Modi Rushes to Insure Half a Billion Indians Before Election

first_imgPrime Minister Narendra Modi’s plan to provide health insurance to half a billion Indians — a mass of people larger than the entire population of South America — before he seeks a fresh mandate next year is already facing serious hurdles.Almost five months after announcing the ambitious program, the government is still working to lock in hospitals and insurance companies in time for its planned August launch. It aims to cover the poorest 40 percent in a country where a 2017 World Health Organisation report found spending on health pushed more than 52 million people below the poverty line.Fighting against accusations from the opposition Congress Party and other political groups that it’s friendlier to business than the poor, Modi’s government is also keen to shore up public support and roll out the program before the federal election scheduled for early 2019.Although beneficiaries have been identified and the IT infrastructure has been put in place, the involvement of hospitals — public and private — and insurance companies was still to be finalized, said Indu Bhushan, chief executive officer of the government’s project.“If we have to provide services to such a large number of people, we can’t do it without the private sector,” Bhushan said. “We don’t have that kind of healthcare capacity in the government sector,” he said, adding he was hopeful the program would be ready by India’s Independence Day on Aug. 15.It’s the government’s second major welfare push this year — in March it presented a draft bill on a social security program designed to cover the country’s 500 million poorest workers, including those in informal employment.The total cost of the program hasn’t yet been calculated, but the promise is to provide poor families up to 500,000 rupees ($7,250) in annual cover. An earlier federal health insurance scheme had managed to cover just 61 percent of those eligible after 10 years of operation, government data show.“It will not be possible for healthcare providers to respond to such a huge expansion of coverage without substantial investment in medical facilities and manpower,” said Owen O’Donnell, associate professor at the Rotterdam-based Erasmus School of Economics. “Without that, the extension of coverage risks being nominal rather than real.”India has long under invested in health and spending as percentage of GDP is lower than most low income countries, including neighbors Nepal and Maldives.Since December, Modi’s been facing rising political turbulence. He won his home state of Gujarat on a wafer-thin majority, lost crucial by-elections in the country’s most populous state, failed to form the government in Karnataka and witnessed protests by students, farmers and underprivileged communities.“The Modi government has decided to launch the ambitious Ayushman Bharat health insurance scheme with an eye on the 2019 polls,” said Satish Misra, senior fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi. He said strategy behind the program mirrors the massive employment guarantee program for the poor that helped its rival Congress win re-election in 2009.The other threat to a speedy roll-out may be India’s federal structure. Health services are controlled by state governments and some like Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal are ruled by regional parties who staunchly oppose the BJP. As a result, they are reluctant to roll out Modi’s program, citing their own pre-existing insurance systems.Assuring quality for money is a critical step, said Stephen Leeder, emeritus professor of public health at the University of Sydney. “If quality is low the scheme will not be politically sustainable,” he said.India’s state governments have the job of deciding whether to run the program through the expansion of the existing health insurance industry — as in the U.S. — or by establishing trusts which directly pay healthcare providers. “The evidence is strongly in favor of one insurer or multiple state-based government insurers,” said Leeder. “This move is highly political and the background political commitment can make or break the scheme.”The program’s reach will also be limited by India’s poor health facilities, dated equipment and shortage of staff in rural areas, where the majority of people eligible for benefits live. India has 0.8 hospital beds per 1000 people, compared to an average of 3.3 among Asian countries, according to data from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. The ratio is often taken as a measure of in-patient health infrastructure.“It is not just about giving money,” said Sanghita Bhattacharyya, senior specialist with Public Health Foundation of India, an independent think-tank. “People in remote villages may need to travel hundreds of kilometers to get to the nearest health facilities.”(c) 2018, Bloomberg Related ItemsNarendra Modilast_img read more

50,000 Indians Became American Citizens in 2017, Next Only to Mexicans

first_imgA total of 50,802 Indian immigrants took the American Oath of Allegiance in 2017, becoming the second largest group after Mexicans to become American citizens.Although the Trump administration is tightening immigration and citizenship rules, there was a numerical increase in the number of Mexicans, Indians, and Chinese citizens giving up their home country passports to become American citizens in 2017, the Times of India reported, citing data from the Department of Homeland Security. During the same time, there was a drop of six percent in naturalization numbers.In 2017, 15,009 more Mexicans became American citizens than in 2016, an increase of 14 percent, the report said. At the same time, 4,614 more Indians gave up their Indian passports than in 2016, marking an increase of 10 percent, while Chinese citizens came in at third, with 1,880 more Chinese giving up their red passport, an increase of 5 percent over 2016.However, those aspiring to become U.S. citizens are finding it tougher now, the publication said, citing officials. According to the New York Times, President Donald Trump wants to cap the number of refugees that can come to the United States to 30,000, and that number is the lowest ceiling any American president has placed on the refugee program since its creation in 1980.Although there is a decline in the naturalization numbers, the number of Indian immigrants who entered the country has seen a massive upswing in seven years. Between 2010 and 2017, 8.3 lakh Indians came to America, the highest among all countries.The naturalization process gives U.S. citizenship to foreign nationals after they have met relevant requirements. It gives them the right to vote. Only green card holders are selected for the naturalization process.However, the huge backlolig in citizenship application processing has been a matter of concern for green card holders. According to the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), the naturalization backlog has gone up to 7.53 lakh applications, a 93 percent rise over the 2015 numbers. On Sept. 17, NPNA filed a lawsuit after the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) failed to respond to requests to provide documents related to backlog of citizenship applications.Indians account for the highest number of highly skilled professionals waiting to get the permanent legal status or the green card. As of May 2018, there were 395,025 foreign citizens who were waiting for the green card under the category of employment-based preference. Out of this total number of foreign nationals, 306,601 were Indians, the figures by USCIS showed. Related ItemsIndian AmericanUnited Stateslast_img read more

The Curse and Riches of the Cobra

first_imgA Supreme Court ordered partial audit of the treasures in the underground chambers of Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Kerala has found over $22 billion of gold, diamonds and other precious metals, making it the richest temple in India, displacing Tirumala Venkateswara Temple in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, which is officially the richest shrine in India. One vault, which is believed to house the most valuable articles — and harbor a curse upon anyone who opens it — has yet to be inventoried.T.P. Sundara Rajan, the lead petitioner, whose advocacy led the Supreme Court to open the temple vaults, died within a month of the discovery, prompting media speculation on the “Curse of the Cobra,” long associated with the temple’s treasures. The Supreme Court has set up a five person committee to examine how to handle the reservation of devotees.The head of the former royal family Padma Rao Sundarji, former King of Tranvancore, principal patron of the temple, has renounced any personal claims to the billions of dollars’ worth of ancient treasures: “But please don’t remove those objects from the temple. They belong to nobody, certainly not to our family. They belong to god and our law permits that.” Related Itemslast_img read more

The Long Last Journey Home

first_imgThe news of a dear one dying overseas is bound to shock family members but the struggle to see the dead body for the last time shatters the grieving family. The situation, earlier faced quietly by many Indian families, now also comes in the public domain through social media.It is not uncommon now to see people requesting External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Twitter for help in bringing back the mortal remains of relatives from overseas.A request was made last month to Swaraj by the Hyderabad-based family members of Mohammed Muneeruzamma, who are unable to get back his body due to financial constraints. Muneeruzamma died in Jeddah on July 24, according to the New Indian Express.But the ministry, however, can only act as a facilitator for transportation of the body, which is released only after the local administration of the concerned country is satisfied with the formalities. The whole procedure involves not only lengthy paperwork but also high monetary cost for the family.As many as 7,694 bodies of Indians were stranded in foreign countries in 2015, Firstpost reported, citing a parliamentary paper. About 8,000 Indians die every year while working overseas, according to data from the Ministry of External Affairs.As many as 65 percent of the deaths abroad occur due to heart ailments and road accidents, according to a recent study that profiled Indians dying abroad. The fatalities are mostly recorded in the 40-60 years age group, the study, conducted by the Airport Health Organization (APHO), Mumbai, showed. The deaths were the most frequent during India’s travel seasons in the months of March-April and November-December, and were proportional to the increase in the travelling population, the Times of India cited the report as saying.All the bodies that arrive at Mumbai airport need to be cleared by APHO, which checks them for traces of any infection that could cause a public health emergency of international concern, the report added.According to the Ministry of External Affairs, “A medical report, death certificate issued from a hospital, a copy of the detailed police report (with an English translation, if the report is written in some other language) in case of accidental or unnatural death, a consent letter from the next of kin of the deceased for local cremation / burial / transportation of mortal remains” are required to complete the repatriation process.”Also required is a copy of the deceased’s passport and visa, documents such as clearance and arrangements for embalming of the mortal remains and clearance from local immigration/customs department. In most cases, where authorities took months before allowing the mortal remains to be repatriated, the deceased died unnatural deaths, with causes ranging from suicide to accidents. Harsh working conditions and at times, non-payment of salaries by employers led to blue-collar workers running away, or in the worst case scenario, committing suicide.The MEA agrees that while there is no undue delay in cases of natural deaths, the time taken to transport the mortal remains to India is longer in the case of unnatural deaths because of different local investigative procedures in different countries.Besides procedural delays, the families back home often have to make arrangements for meeting the financial requirements of bringing back the body.In the recent case of Sharath Koppu, the Indian student who died in a shootout at Kansas in the United States, the family had to reportedly spend nearly Rs 20 lakh to bring his body home.In the case of drowning victim Hemin Limbachiya too, his family and newly-wedded wife had to arrange around $20,000 quickly to take his body to India. Limbachiya, a 26-year-old native of Vadodara, drowned at Waimarama beach in New Zealand in January this year, just weeks after his marriage. An online page set up to help the family after the tragedy collected about $23,000 in donations.“From getting a no-objection certificate from the host country to buying coffins, getting a medical certificate, arranging air tickets and other paperwork, social workers have to step in,” Shameer PTK, a social worker based in Oman, told Firstpost about the challenges involved in the process. “Of course the embassy cooperates, but if there are no social workers to run from pillar to post, the mortal remains of poor workers will stay stuck for months,” he added. Related Itemslast_img read more

‘Male’? ‘Female’? Or ‘X’? Drive for a Third Choice on Government Forms

first_imgCharlie Arrowood does not identify as male or female. So in January, when a new New York City law takes effect, they plan to modify the sex recorded on their birth certificate to one that fits: “X,” a gender-neutral option.Arrowood, who is transgender, changed both their name and sex on the certificate last year. But putting “male” instead of “female” on the document did not feel quite right either.(Charlie Arrowood uses the pronoun “they” and the courtesy title “Mx.,” a gender-neutral alternative to Ms. and Mr.)Addressing the issue with an “X” on the birth certificate, however, creates another snag.The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles offers only the options “M” and “F.” So do the federal agencies that administer passports and Social Security.Yes, this can be very confusing.“It doesn’t make sense,” Arrowood, a lawyer for the transgender advocacy nonprofit Transcend Legal, said last week. “You can’t keep accurate records if you don’t have an accurate representation of someone.”As Americans’ views on gender shift, laws are changing across the country to give people more power to define themselves on the official documents that tell the world who and what they are — but only in some places, in some cases.New York City — whose Council passed a law Sept. 12 creating a designation on birth certificates “to indicate a sex that is not exclusively male or female” — joins California, Oregon and Washington state, which began offering neither-of-the-above birth certificates in January.Washington has had 26 such change requests so far, California, 16, officials in those states said last week. A similar New Jersey law takes effect next year.New York City officials do not know how many people might seek the change, but 330 people requested birth certificate changes to male or female last year. If the city’s experience is like that of Washington state, where 11 percent of the changes requested this year have been for “X,” there could be dozens per year here.Other jurisdictions, like Maine and Washington, D.C., allow a third gender on driver’s licenses but not birth certificates. Still others, like Kansas, forbid any gender change on birth certificates.Charlie Arrowood, a lawyer for the transgender advocacy nonprofit Transcend Legal, in New York. Photo: Annie Tritt/The New York TimesA.T. Furuya, who moved to New York City a few weeks ago from California, is familiar with the headaches that arise when information does not align.Furuya was one of the first people in the country to get a nonbinary birth certificate, in California. But when Furuya went to the California DMV to replace a license a few months later, there were two options: “M” or “F.”“I asked, ‘Is this going to implicate me for lying to the government?’ They said, ‘We hadn’t thought about that.’”California will offer nonbinary driver’s licenses starting next year.Then there are the federal barriers, though a district court judge ruled last week that the State Department could not deny a passport application from a Colorado resident for refusing to select male or female.“Gender-marker changes are a patchwork of policies across the country,” said Arli Christian, director of state policy for the National Center for Transgender Equality. “That leads to these very tricky questions of when you update one document, what do you get on another?”Things can be simpler elsewhere in the world. At least 10 countries — Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Denmark, Germany, India, Malta, Nepal, New Zealand and Pakistan — offer gender-neutral options on passports or national identity cards. India let members of the hijra community put an “E” on their passport — for eunuch — as early as 2005.As for the New York DMV, a spokeswoman, Lisa Koumjian, said the agency was finding its way.“The state has taken a number of affirmative steps to protect and advance the civil rights of all New Yorkers, including those who are transgender or gender nonconforming,” she wrote in an email. “We expect to work with the city and the different systems to support this new initiative.”A state Senate bill to allow “X” on driver’s licenses stalled in committee last year.New York state’s Department of Health, which studied the implications of nonbinary birth certificates, said it was concerned that they could cause people to be denied Medicaid benefits because the federal and state data sources used by Medicaid to verify eligibility recognize only male and female.The new New York City birth certificate law, sponsored by the Council speaker, Corey Johnson, also lets people change the sex on their birth certificates without a note from a health professional, a change that transgender advocates had long pushed for.Arrowood conceded that their gender identity can be difficult for others to understand. Arrowood’s birth certificate, issued at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan 31 years ago, said female.“I was never transitioning ‘towards male,’” Arrowood said, “but away from female.”(Furuya said it often takes them a few tries to explain who they are, too. When asked how they identified, they sent a diagram with four category umbrellas and nine subcategories.)Gretchen Van Wye, assistant commissioner in the city Health Department’s Bureau of Vital Statistics, said that with the new law, the city was struggling to navigate the space between “sex,” the biological category that a birth certificate purports to define, and gender, which is largely seen as more subjective.“There’s a difference between sex and gender,” she said. “But we conflate those on the birth certificate, and we’re trying to serve the needs of the most while accommodating the requests that we’re getting.” Discrepancies between the sex on someone’s official document and the gender presented in person can lead to discrimination and harassment, advocates say.Some news reports about the new birth certificate law said that it would also let parents give their newborns the “X” designation, for example if they did not want to impose gender stereotypes. This is not true, nor is it the intent of the law, the Health Department said: “X” will be available only as a change, not a birth sex.The Health Department adopted this policy at the recommendation of InterACT, a group that gives support to what are called intersex youth — born with anatomy or chromosomes that are not typically male or female.Intersex children have often been subjected to surgery to “correct” their conditions, something the advocates oppose.InterACT’s law and policy director, Alesdair H. Ittelson, said that because nonbinary options are not yet widely protected or recognized, putting an “X” on children’s birth certificates can potentially stigmatize them without their consent.Notwithstanding what is on their children’s birth certificates, a tiny but growing number of parents are raising children as “theybies,” letting them choose a gender when they are ready.One of them is Nathan Levitt, a nurse practitioner who works at NYU Langone Health with transgender people and has a 20-month-old named Zo. Levitt was raised female and now identifies as transgender male.He said he wonders “what my life would have been like had I had that opportunity to choose what I most identified with, instead of later on in life realizing this gender doesn’t really fit for me.”Zo belongs to a gender-open playgroup in Brooklyn that includes three other “theybies.” The playgroup’s founder, Bobby McCullough, whose child, Sojourner, was born in December, persuaded the hospital and the Health Department to give Sojourner an “undetermined or unknown” designation usually reserved for very premature infants.The “sex” line on Sojourner’s birth certificate reads “****.”McCullough said he would not want to put an “X” on Sojourner’s birth certificate because it is too limiting.“I wanted a designation that literally acknowledged that we don’t know if our kid is nonbinary, male or female,” McCullough said. “’X’ is an answer in and of itself.” Related Itemslast_img read more

Darjeeling’s Tea Gardens Limp Back

first_imgA year after labor conflicts and strikes paralyzed the industry, the tea gardens of Darjeeling are limping back to normalcy.Nearly 8.5 million kilograms of tea is produced in 87 tea gardens of Darjeeling annually. It had fallen to paltry 2.8 million kg in 2017. Nearly 80 percent is exported to countries like Japan, Germany, USA, UK, France and Russia, among others. In 2018, nearly 6 million kg of Darjeeling tea was exported.The 2017 labor shutdown had whiplashed the second flush, considered most important in terms of quality and export, “The timing of the agitation couldn’t have been worse as it coincided with the second flush, which is mostly exported because of its quality. It was the first time that tea gardens in the hills were included in the agitation. As a result, the tea industry faced disastrous consequences,” said Subrata Bose, a small tea grower based in Siliguri. “The first and second flush are considered premium, contributing about 45 percent of the annual production and the tea produced in these seasons is mostly exported.”Industry insiders say it will take a few years to fully recover from the shutdown. The unrest provided a fertile ground for other tea growing regions, especially Nepal, to make a play for importers of the world famed brew.Kaushik Basu, Secretary of Darjeeling Tea Association, said: “It cannot be ruled out that Darjeeling tea suffered immensely because of the strike. It created apprehension in the minds of buyers who fear the re-run of the situation. They even begun to buy tea from alternative markets of Nepal and other countries,” said.Tea marketers from Japan, which imports 2 million kg of the Darjeeling tea every year, tapped tea from Nepal tea growers in 2017. “The situation made the buyers jittery and the demand came down by 10-12 percent as compared to other years. Sadly, neither the state nor the Central government came up to iron out the doubts in the minds of the buyers. It could take at least 3-5 years for the situation to turn normal only if no further strike occurs,” Base said.Nepal tea enters India through the Indo-Nepal Free Trade Agreement free trade agreement. The agreement was extended for another seven years in 2016.Nepal’s tea gardens, spread across 28,000 hectares, mostly in the east, are gradually expanding to the central and western parts of the country. These tea gardens produce over 24 million kgs of tea per year, of which around 6 million kg is orthodox, just shy of the 8 million kg of orthodox tea produced in Darjeeling.According to industry analysts, the Darjeeling tea industry loses Rs 120 crore every year to cheap leaf tea imported from Nepal under the rubric of “Darjeeling tea.”Plucking tea in a tea estate in Darjeeling. Photo: G SinghThe tea gardens are also skrinking. “The hills are losing tea plantations areas to encroachments and increasing population. Several decades ago, Darjeeling produced around 20 million kg of team which has come down to just over 8 million kg on an average. It is becoming difficult to compete with other tea growing countries,” said a prominent tea grower on condition of anonymity.Sumon Majumder, the general manager at Darjeeling Impex Limited, one of the leading tea exporters in the eastern India is counting on 2019 as the year the Darjeeling tea industry rebounds: “The pruning has been good this year (2018) and the climatic conditions are also favorable because of chilling cold which helps in improving its quality. We sincerely hope that the quality of first flush will be really good that would translate into higher returns. The exports are likely to pick up, because of good quality and increased production.”But the 2017 shutdown was a body blow to the industry, he says: “There was 5.6 percent growth in the export of tea starting 2017. The future looked bright but then came the near four-month shutdown in the hills in demand of Gorkhaland that virtually destroyed everything, because it was time for second flush considered the most profitable produce. We are still trying to recover as our export of Darjeeling tea fell down to Rs 7 crore in 2018 from around Rs 10 cr in 2016. Apart from monetary loss, it generated fear in the minds of the international buyers forcing them to stay away from buying Darjeeling tea.”Tea growers are apprehensive over union demands for wage hikes.In August 2018, a three-day strike was called in 196 gardens of Terai and Dooars by the joint forum of 23 trade unions demanding revision of minimum wages.  The two regions accounted for more than a quarter of the country’s tea production in 2017.Sumon Majumder, the general manager at Darjeeling Impex Limited: “Apart from monetary loss, it (the shutdown) generated fear in the minds of the international buyers forcing them to stay away from buying Darjeeling tea.” Photo: G SinghThe trade unions are gearing up for a movement for wage hike in wages. Abhijit Mazumder, the president of Terrai Sangrami Chai Mazdur Union based in Siliguri, said: “The state government has been playing in the hands of the employers and they have been dilly-dallying on our demand to raise the wages of the laborers.”Mazumder said the union is planning a new agitation: “We have been raising our voice for over four year for hike of wages but to no avail. We have been demanding that wages to be increased to Rs 400-Rs 450 from Rs 159 being paid to the workers. The onus should not only be on the workers, but also on the employees who are exploiting them.  The workers have also tried to produce best quality of tea, but have got nothing in return.”Harkaram Chaudhary, superintendent manager of Namring Tea Estate in Darjeeling, expressed apprehension about the rising risks to Darjeeling tea: “The quality of tea is getting affected, because of increasing tea plucking rounds from seven to 10-12 days due to severe labor shortage. The long plucking rounds have been impacting the quality of the tea. We export around 250 kg of Oolong tea of the 300 kg produced. Climate change is also the reason as erratic weather has changed the texture of the leaves and bushes have become dormant.”India is home to a wide variety of teas, including black tea, orthodox tea, green tea and organic tea. Unlike many other tea producing and exporting nations, India has a manufacturing base for both CTC, or black tea, and orthodox tea, in addition to green tea. India offers several high-quality specialty teas, such as Darjeeling, Assam Orthodox and the high- range Nilgiri, which has a distinctive aroma, strength, color and flavor.“The brew is known for its aroma and flavor and is sought after the tea lovers across the world. It will continue to remain the favorite cuppa for us no matter what comes. The strike is over and buyers are coming back and they are aware that it is now also happening in other countries. We expect the current year to bring higher returns for the tea industry,” said S. Patra, the secretary of Indian Tea Association. Second Largest Tea Producer in the WorldIndia is the world’s second largest tea producer and fourth largest exporter after Kenya, China and Sri Lanka.India’s tea exports stood at US$ 837.33 million in 2017-18, as compared to US$ 731.25 million the previous year, according to the Tea Board of India.In the first six months of the current financial year, April-Oct 2018, tea exports had touched US$ 463.95 million. During this time, major importers of Indian tea were Russia ($ 64.14 million), Iran ($ 57.63 million), US ($ 34.90 million), UK ($ 34.31 million) and UAE ($ 30.15 million). Related Itemsfeaturedlast_img read more

Cisco to Buy Indian-origin Founders’ Springpath for $320 Million

first_imgUnited States-based Cisco Systems Inc. has announced its plans to acquire Springpath, which was founded by Indian-origin entrepreneurs Mallik Mahalingam and Krishna Yadappanavar, in an all-cash deal of $320 million. The deal is expected to be closed in the current fiscal year following customary regulatory reviews.Springpath, the hyperconvergence software leader based at Sunnyvale in California, was founded by the former VMware executives in 2012. Mahalingam is a former research associate at IIT Kanpur and had earlier worked with Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Netframe Systems. Yadappanavar, a graduate of BITS Pilani, worked with  Commvault and the NAS product line at EMC before moving to VMware.Springpath to Help Cisco GrowSpringpath has developed a distributed file system purpose-built for hyperconvergence that enables server-based storage systems. With this acquisition, the networking equipment provider, Cisco, hopes to continue to deliver next-generation data center innovation to its customers, the company said in a press release.“Springpath’s file system technology was built specifically for hyperconvergence, which we believe will deliver sustainable differentiation in this fast-growing segment. I’m excited to be able to provide our customers and partners with the simplicity and agility they need in data center innovation,” Rob Salvagno, Cisco vice president, corporate business development, said.Cisco and Springpath have been involved in a strategic relationship for quite some time now. In early 2016, the two companies worked together to launch HyperFlex, the industry’s first fully integrated hyperconverged infrastructure system.“This acquisition is a meaningful addition to our data center portfolio and aligns with our overall transition to providing more software-centric solutions,” said Salvagno.By acquiring Springpath, Cisco can to grow its computing business, which will help customers understand the benefits of simple and economic software-defined infrastructure.Interest in IndiaIn the recent past, Cisco said it is committed to invest and hire more people in India and the US. The company began operations in India in 1995 and in the financial year of 2016, its profits had a 340 per cent growth, backed by the Smart City initiatives and its partnership with Reliance Jio.The company employs almost 12,000 people across its various centres in New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Pune, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Gurugram.In March, the company said it was aiming at investing $100 million in startups and training 2.5 lakh students in India by 2020.Indian-origin Entrepreneurs Draw InvestorsIn the recent past, a number of Indian-origin internet entrepreneurs in the US have attracted investor interest, VCCircle reported.Outcome Health, a Chicago-based health-tech company founded by two Indian-American entrepreneurs Rishi Shah and Shradha Agarwal, recently raised $500 million at a valuation of $5.5 billion.Netskope, a Cloud security  firm founded by Sanjay Beri, the former India head of Juniper Networks, raised $100 million in a Series E round. Netskope had a post-money valuation of $1.25 billion, which made it a member of the unicorn club, comprising companies valued at more than one billion dollars in the US.Earlier this month, US-based biotech company Roivant Sciences, founded by Indian-origin entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, raised $1.1 billion from SoftBank. Related ItemsCisco acquisition SpringpathIIT alumni US entrepreneursIndian-American entrepreneursLittle IndiaMallik Mahalingam Krishna Yadappanavar SpringpathSilicon Valley Indian startupsSpringpath Cisco deallast_img read more

Dawood Ibrahim Listed on UK’s Asset Freeze List

first_imgDawood Ibrahim, India’s most wanted terrorist, figures as the only national of the country on an updated list of financial sanctions released by the United Kingdom’s Treasury Department. The list, called the ‘Consolidated List of Financial Sanctions Targets in the UK’, was updated on August 12. It contained 21 aliases for the underworld don.The list also included three recorded addresses in Pakistan, where he is reportedly based. The addresses listed are:  House No 37, 30th Street – Defence Housing Authority, Karachi, Pakistan; Noorabad, Karachi, Pakistan (Palatial bungalow in the hilly area); and White House, Near Saudi Mosque, Clifton, Karachi, Pakistan. A fourth address — House no.29, Margalla Road, F 6/2 Street no.22, Karachi, Pakistan — is no longer part of record.The list also mentions 21 aliases used by Dawood:  Abdul, Shaikh, Ismail; Abdul Aziz, Abdul Hamid; Abdul Rehman, Shaikh, Mohd, Ismail; Anis, Ibrahim, Shaikh, Mohd; Bhai, Bada; Bhai, Dawood; Bhai, Iqbal; Dilip, Aziz; Ebrahim, Dawood; Farooqi, Sheikh; Hasan, Kaskar, Dawood; Hassan, Dawood; Ibrahim, Anis; Ibrahim, Dowood, Hassan, Shaikh; Kaskar, Daud, Hasan, Shaikh, Ibrahim; Kaskar, Daud, Ibrahim, Memon; Kaskar, Dawood, Hasan, Ibrahim; Memon, Dawood, Ibrahim; Sabri, Dawood; Sahab, Haji; and Seth, Bada.He made it to the list first in November 2003 with following notes: “Father’s name is Sheikh Ibrahim Ali Kaskar, mother’s name is Amina Bi, wife’s name is Mehjabeen Shaikh. Also referred to as Hizrat and Mucchad.”The list also features affiliates of al-Qaeda and ISIS.About the Underworld DonDawood is also named in the United States’ Treasury List as a terrorist as part of its international sanctions program. This effectively forbids US financial entities from working with him, and permits seizure of any assets believed to be in his control. The US Treasury also keeps a fact sheet on him, which claims he was in contact with al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.Dawood Ibrahim is said to have masterminded and provided logistics for the 1993 serial Mumbai bomb blasts, in which 260 people were killed and more than 600 suffered injuries. He fled India after the 1993 bombings and took refuge in Pakistan, a charge that Islamabad denies.In 2003, he was labeled a Global terrorist by India and the US. His passport was revoked by the Government of India and he now goes by a string of Indian and Pakistan passports he acquired. He is said to be in  control of much of hawala system — an informal money transfer system operating outside of traditional banking, finance and remittance channels.Dawood was born on 26 December 1955 in a Konkani Muslim family at Kher in Ratnagiri, Maharashtra. His father was a police constable. Dawood and his brother formed the D-company, which financed some Bollywood studios and films during the 1980s and 1990s. A number of Hindi films have been made on the D-company, including Once Upon a Time in Mumbai, Company, D, Shootout at Wadala and Shootout at Lokhandwala. Related Items1993 Mumbai blast caseal-QaedaCompanyDD-CompanyDawood hawala systemDawood IbrahimDawood Ibrahim UK financial sanctionsDawood Ibrahim UK Treasury DepartmentDawood PakistanISISLittle IndiaNRIOnce Upon a Time in MumbaiShootout at LokhandwalaShootout at Wadalalast_img read more

There are no Indians in shelters now: Consul General Anupam Ray

first_imgAs catastrophic disasters Harvey and Irma battered America, in quick succession, the authorities are left assessing and taking stock of the devastation the storms left behind for days to come.Harvey, which made a landfall as a Category 4 Hurricane with winds of 130 mph in Texas, is now estimated to be one of the costliest weather disasters ever in the US history. The estimated cost of disaster from Hurricane Harvey is around $190 billion or the 1 percentage point of GDP, according to AccuWeather President Joel Myers.The Indian-American community in Houston is now busy in rehabilitation and fund-raising activities. The Indian diaspora in the US is planning to raise $1 million for relief efforts after they met at the Indian consulate.Little India talked to Anupam Ray, the consul general of India in Houston , to take stock of the recovery and relief work.The Indian diaspora has been remarkable in showing their support during the catastrophe, with the latest being that they have pledged to raise $1 million to help in the relief work in response to your urgings, as per reports. What are your thoughts about the alacrity with which Indian-Americans have been reacting in the situation? While it is truly commendable that the diaspora thought of doing their bit to raise funds but I would clarify that I cannot take the credit of inspiring them. It was something that they decided on their own when they met at the consulate. It’s an excellent endeavor but they did it without my urging them to do so.You have been very vocal about Indian participation in the rehab process and how a large number of them were the first responders. What made them so attentive and attuned to the needs of people in the hour?The diaspora has been very supportive always but perhaps it was the first time that a calamity of such a large magnitude occurred at a place with such a high concentration of Indians in America. So, we got to see a unique brotherhood where everyone was ready to help each other. Disasters like these don’t happen everyday and the way community came forward was exceptional and truly enlightening.A lot has been written about the Indian American participation in ethnic media outlets but do you feel that the mainstream could have covered it more? The ethnic media is part of the community and they do not miss any effort or great work done by our people here. As for the mainstream media, I do not think they have reported on any community specifically. Anyway these works are not done for publicity and we were not expecting any press coverage out of it. The fact that our Prime Minister said that the Indian American community is sort of integrated into America and there have been exceptional success stories says enough about the contribution of Indian community here. We do not necessarily want mileage about doing any good for the society.Do you think that we have a sense of the number of displaced Indians or any other assessment about the loss? Are there any reports of any casualties from the community besides the two college students who succumbed?The unfortunate death of the two students was not really related to the hurricane. They succumbed to death during the same time but not necessarily due to Harvey. As for the other losses our estimate is that the number of Indians displaced from their homes is in high hundreds. We do not have the exact numbers yet but we do know that there are 150,000 Indians in the Houston area, which makes about 50k families. We are assessing the number in high hundreds and our estimate is that 2 percent of the Indian population is displaced.What is the current situation of Indian in Houston? Are they still in shelters or in temples, mosques and gurudwaras? I am happy to say that none of the Indians are now in shelters. Those who have suffered damage to their houses have now moved out of shelters and have been offered to live with their friends or relatives in the area. The community bond between the Indians is so strong that we noticed that Indians began moving out of shelters within 36-48 hours after the tragedy.  I myself visited many shelters and found no Indians any longer there. My staff has visited almost all the shelters and friends or families have picked all Indians. As for the religious places they are community-based organizations and did a wonderful job of providing hot food to shelter. It is alleviating to see how these places that derive sustenance from the communities steadfastly were there to help when the need arose.A lot of Indians in the region were without flood insurance. Does the authority have any plan to tackle that situation? Are there any without medical insurance too that may need attention in the days to come?Not just the Indians but also many Americans were also without flood insurance. I would say that their needs are not exclusive and are same as that of everybody who suffered a loss in the area right now. The state would decide its course however a lot of Indian companies have contributed to the Mayor’s fund for Harvey Relief also in the Rebuild Texas Fund by Governor. The major Indian oil companies in Houston – GAIL, Oil India and ONGC have also committed $10,000 each besides other organizations. Related ItemsAnupam Ray HoustonAnupam Ray Hurricane HarveyIndian community HoustonIndian Consul General HoustonIndian diaspora Hurricane HarveyIndian embassy Hurricane HarveyLittle Indialast_img read more

This Indian in UAE Has Posted 80,000 Selfies in 4 Years

first_imgSudheer Andicot, an Indian expat residing in the United Arab Emirates is now a star among his friends for quite a unique reason. The 64-year-old Dubai-based employee in a private company has posted more than 80,000 selfies on Facebook during the last four years.Selfies Are Not Just For YoungstersAndicot claims that he has posted more than 146,000 photos on the social media site in the last four years, of which 80,000 are selfies, Gulf News reported. That makes it an average of one selfie clicked by him every 26 minutes. Most selfies have been taken with friends, family members, celebrities, and sometimes, even with strangers.Known among friends as Omanakuttan alias OK, Andicot, who hails from Kerala, has now emerged as an overnight sensation among them after the news about him was published.His obsession with taking selfies was triggered when his attempt to take a selfie with Malayalam superstar Nivin Pauly failed miserably. “I was so upset to see only some strands of my hair in that selfie. One gentleman then helped me take a proper picture on my phone,” recalled Andicot, who has been working as a business development manager at RAG Foodstuff Trading in Dubai Investment Park for eight years.This failure propelled him to practice hard to master the art of taking selfies quickly. It gradually became his hobby, and he started taking more than 60-80 selfies a day.“I had always been fond of taking everyone’s pictures. After I started taking selfies, I felt it is a better way of taking pictures in my signature style. Thus it became my hobby,” he told Gulf News.He also made it clear that he does not have any mental health problems, something that people routinely say about his obsession.“Maybe that is applicable to people who take only their own selfies in different poses and post them. I take selfies to freeze the memories of my life at least in this last leg of my journey,” he added.Even though he is a selfie maniac himself, Andicot strongly conveys his warning to all the people who risk their lives to capture the shots.“It is not worth risking your life to take dangerous selfies. Just enjoy the moment and spread happiness by capturing special moments in a selfie,” says Andicot, who will retire next year. His dream now is to own an iPhone X. Related ItemsDubai NRI selfie expertIndian selfie GulfIndian selfie kingIndian UAE selfie maniacLittle IndiaSudheer AndicotSudheer selfielast_img read more

Kerber pulls through a surprising challenge, faces Keys next

first_imgTyphoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. She took out one major winner — Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza — in the second round, and took a set off an almost dumbfounded Kerber to open the fourth.Kerber, returning from a form slump that saw her ranking drop into the 20s in 2017, had to produce some of her best tennis.She finished a 14-shot rally early in the second set by racing to the net and reaching at full stretch to track down a drop shot and send a forehand winner over the net post. NEXT BLOCK ASIA 2.0 introduces GURUS AWARDS to recognize and reward industry influencers Read Next Germany’s Angelique Kerber reacts after losing a point to Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei during their fourth round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne. APMELBOURNE, Australia — Angelique Kerber remains the only Grand Slam singles winner in the Australian Open women’s draw after surviving a frustrating fourth-round match.For a while, though, it appeared Kerber’s progression may have unraveled against No. 88 Hsieh Su-wei, a former top-ranked doubles player with a double-handed grip on both sides.ADVERTISEMENT John Lloyd Cruz a dashing guest at Vhong Navarro’s wedding Panelo on facing commute challenge: ‘It’s a silly acceptance’ PLAY LIST 02:28Panelo on facing commute challenge: ‘It’s a silly acceptance’00:50Trending Articles00:45Onyok Velasco see bright future for PH boxing in Olympics01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City Keys returned to the quarterfinals here for the first time in three years with a 6-3, 6-2 win over No. 8-seeded Caroline Garcia. She has yet to drop a set at Melbourne Park and is averaging a brisk 62.5 minutes on court through her first four rounds.Going into the fourth round, Keys had only dropped 14 games — the second fewest among the women through three rounds, just behind Kerber’s 13 games.Keys, the only American woman to reach the fourth round, said she feels like she’s playing without pressure since returning from her wrist injury that forced her out of last year’s Australian Open.“I definitely realize how much l love it and how much pressure I put on myself,” in the past, she said. “Just being really happy to be back out here and not at home in a cast.”Hsieh certainly made the most of her time back in the spotlight, returning to the fourth round at a major for the first round in a decade.ADVERTISEMENT With a mix of slice and chips, lobs and bunts, whippy half-volleys and wristy crosscourt ground strokes off both wings, Hsieh pushed Kerber to the extremes and unsettled her rhythm.Former No. 1-ranked Kerber finally got a succession of breaks to take the second set and dominate the third in a 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 victory on Monday afternoon.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSLillard, Anthony lead Blazers over ThunderSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutout“Credit to her. She played an unbelievable match,” said Kerber, who won the Australian and U.S. Open titles and reached No. 1 in 2016. “I was feeling I was running everywhere. She was playing a lot of corners and drop shots. I was bringing a lot of balls back.”After holding it together to improve her 2018 winning streak to 13, Kerber faces U.S. Open quarterfinalist Madison Keys in the quarterfinals.center_img Slow and steady hope for near-extinct Bangladesh tortoises View comments MOST READ Globe Business launches leading cloud-enabled and hardware-agnostic conferencing platform in PH Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC LATEST STORIES 2 ‘newbie’ drug pushers fall in Lucena sting The 30-year-old German player had to serve to stay in the match in the ninth game of the second set. Then, after winning four straight points and converting a break-point chance with a sliding forehand winner down the line, Kerber crouched and screamed to celebrate the point.She served out the set at love and then got critical service breaks in the first and fifth games of the final set as Hseih began to tire and started to miss the lines.Hsieh has won two Grand Slam doubles titles, and was ranked No. 1 in doubles in 2014 but had a career-high singles ranking of 23. At age 32, she was oldest woman still in the singles draw. Recent work with former doubles champion — and Australian Open tournament director — Paul McNamee paid off with her singles ranking expected to rise again. She’ll likely also attract more attention from sponsors after going through the singles in an unadorned white tank top and black skirt.On the men’s side, Tomas Berdych returned to the Australian Open quarterfinals for the seventh time after a 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 win over Fabio Fognini.Berdych has been this far at Melbourne Park for seven of the last eight years. The only time he’s failed to reach at least the quarters was last year when he lost in the third round to Roger Federer.He could meet Federer again in the next round, if second-ranked Federer wins his fourth-round match against Marton Fucsovics later Monday. Not all South Koreans are happy about unified hockey teamlast_img read more

Hockey World League, Semi-Final: India wear black arm bands to condole the deaths of martyrs

first_imgIn their match against Pakistan, the Indian team, led by midfielder Manpreet Singh including the Indian Team support staff, were seen wearing black arm bands to condole the deaths of martyrs in the recent attacks on the Indian Army.Captain Manpreet Singh after the victory went on to say: “We wanted to win on the field today to show not only our proud nation but all the World that we will stand up and fight for what we believe in through sport.”India on Sunday came out with a flawless performance as they thrashed Pakistan 7-1 in their Pool B encounter of the FIH Hockey World League Semi-Final in London.Akashdeep Singh, Talwinder Singh and Harmanpreet Singh all three contributed with a brace while the other goal was scored by Pardeep Mor in the 49th minute of the game.The team faced Pakistan after two strong wins in their previous matches where they beat Scotland 4-1 and Canada 3-0 in the Pool B encounters.last_img read more

10 months agoWolves boss Nuno delighted after defeat of Bournemouth

first_imgWolves boss Nuno delighted after defeat of Bournemouthby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveRaul Jimenez was again on the scoresheet as Wolves defeated Bournemouth on Saturday.An early goal from Raul Jimenez and a late strike by substitute Ivan Cavaleiro handed Wolves the three points.Following wins against Chelsea and Newcastle in the past 10 days, it is the first time since March 1980 that Wanderers have recorded a trio of consecutive victories in the top division.Wolves boss Nuno stated afterwards, “The boys playing in this weather, in the rain, and how hard it was, I’m very proud of them today. They did a fantastic job because we have to adapt to the realities. We were versatile enough to realise that today was about defending and counter attacks – exploiting our talent to achieve what we achieved today, a deserved win.“The organisation, the shape and how compact we were. We didn’t allow too many situations to Bournemouth, who are a fantastic team and played very well. Always trying to help our team mates is what defending is all about. There were not many chances, it was very hard for both teams. They matched us in shape, it was a tough game. We are happy but credit to Bournemouth, it was very difficult.”On third win in a row, he added: “We achieved a third win, but it’s not over, we have to go again. Before we were in a bad moment, now we’re in a good moment and why is important to recognise. Their character, the way they commit themselves to the work on a daily basis and to the competition so well done.“I’m very proud of the work we do every day. The character took us out of the bad moment. The only secret is work, we have to work hard. We do the same things, we were committed and football is like this. It’s life, sometimes you have bad moments, sometimes you have good moment. Rising up, reacting and bouncing back is what I’m most proud of.” About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

TrustedHousesitters Is Like Free Airbnb for Pet-Lovers

first_img For Sale: A Treehouse in the Suburbs Designed by John Lautner Editors’ Recommendations Give Your Hypercar the Garage It Deserves with a Custom Aston Martin Lair The Opus OP15′ Is a Tricked-Out, Off-Road-Ready Travel Trailer World’s First Luxury Space Hotel Promises Climbing Wall, Low-Gravity Basketball Courts Live Out Your Westworld Dreams at Casteel Creek Retreat Do you love pets and travel and not paying for hotel rooms? How would you like to stay in an exotic Italian villa full of kittens or on a swanky Hong Kong houseboat with a lovable rescue bulldog — and pay next to nothing for the privilege? TrustedHousesitters is just what you’re seeking.The gist of the site is simple. There are countless home- and pet-owners who would love to travel the world but can’t bear to leave their pet alone or in the care of strangers. There are also countless others — read virtually every sane, breathing human — who would love to travel the world without paying for accommodations. TrustedHousesitters provides that connection between travel-hungry pet owners and budget-minded housesitters.Like most online marketplaces — eBay, Etsy, Airbnb — registered sitters establish a profile which is verified through a multi-point system, including global identity checks and criminal background screening. They choose the details of their preferred “sit,” like where, when, and what types of pets they’re interested in. The site then provides regular email alerts whenever a matched sit is available. As long as sitters are reasonably flexible with their travel dates, it’s easy to travel for weeks or months every year.It’s a hyper-competitive market since there are far more housesitters looking for a sit than there are houses to be sat. The most successful housesitters upload videos, provide extensive references, and go the extra mile to prove to prospective home and pet owners that they’re doing it as much for their love of pets as for their love of travel. Pet owners often love their pets as much as parents love their children, so they understandably want boatloads of reassurance that they’re leaving their pets in good hands.Each homeowner/pet-owner likewise receives a verified profile with similar background screening. They then outline the details of their home (size, location, and amenities) and their pets (how many, age, and general disposition).If you’re the sort who prefers an Airbnb-style stay (compared to a traditional hotel) with a legit local feel, just consider some of the amazing properties TrustedHousesitters makes available to you. This stunning, three-bedroom Tuscan farmhouse is home to three cats and boasts a swimming pool and sweeping valley views. This modern barn-style home is on a New Zealand avocado farm just five minutes from a beautiful beach. This luxury houseboat in Hong Kong’s Aberdeen Marina is home to a sweet rescue bulldog.Registration is USD $119 annually for both homeowners/pet-owner. The fee includes unlimited travel or sits respectively, plus access to a free vet care advice line and a host of other benefits.last_img read more

Celebrate National Forest Week in Nova Scotia

first_imgSunday, May 2 is the beginning of National Forest Week in Canada,Natural Resources Minister Richard Hurlburt announced today,April 30. Nova Scotians can celebrate the week by taking part isvarious activities around the province. The theme for the week is Canada’s Forests — A Fine Balance andit focuses on the decline of wildlife habitat and the increase inspecies at risk. “Our forests contribute significantly to a healthy environment,economy and lifestyle for all Nova Scotians,” said Mr. Hurlburt.”In addition, they provide food and shelter for thousands ofwildlife species.” Activities are planned across the province to increase awarenessabout the many living things that call our forests home. Children’s entertainer Jim Dalling will perform his “Ask me ifI’m a Tree” show for school children in grades 3 to 6 throughoutNova Scotia during National Forest Week. The show is aneducational, interactive presentation that brings the message ofresponsible forest use and sustainable forest management. “Mr. Dalling’s presentation will show our children the importanceof our forests to every-day life,” said Mr. Hurlburt. “NationalForest Week is an opportunity for all of us to consider the truevalue of Nova Scotia’s forests.” Other events around the province include school visits byDepartment of Natural Resources staff, who will talk withstudents in grades 4 to 6 classes about the importance of ourforests and will distribute seedlings for them to plant. The Department of Natural Resources will also host mall displaysin Sydney on Friday, May 7 and New Minas on Saturday, May 8. Achildren’s forest planting will take place in Hilden, Colchester,Co., on Wednesday, May 5. In addition, staff at the NaturalResources Education Centre in Middle Musquodoboit will host anopen house on Saturday, May 8 on the McCurdy woodlot to focus onHurricane Juan damage and clean-up activities. National Forest Week is sponsored by the Canadian ForestryAssociation and runs until Saturday, May 8. Information about thedifferent activities is available at www.gov.ns.ca/natr .last_img read more

Nova Scotias Tree for Boston Begins Journey

first_imgNova Scotia’s Christmas Tree for Boston started its journey from Mill Cove, Lunenburg Co., today, Nov. 12, with a planned stopover at Halifax City Hall for a final public send-off, Wednesday morning. “The Halifax Explosion was a dark time in our province’s history, but the people of Boston were there for us, providing much needed support and aid,” said Natural Resources Minister Zach Churchill. “This beautiful Nova Scotia Christmas tree is a wonderful symbol of our continued gratitude. “Thank you to the Milligan family for making such a gracious donation.” Mary Lou Milligan donated this year’s tree from her property in Mill Cove. Neighbours, community members, hundreds of young students and a representative from the U.S. Consulate watched as the 15-metre white spruce was cut and lowered to a flatbed truck. Ms. Milligan will travel to Boston with her daughter and two grandsons for the Tree Lighting ceremony on Thursday, Dec. 5. “I can’t wait to see our tree light up the Boston Common,” said Ms. Milligan. “We’re so excited to be a part of this special tradition.” This is the 42nd year of the Boston tree tradition, in thanks for the medical personnel and supplies Bostonians provided after the explosion of Dec. 6, 1917. “The Nova Scotia Christmas tree is a wonderful tradition that perfectly illustrates the strong ties between my two homes — Boston and Halifax,” said Scott Whitmore, Consul from the U.S. Consolate General office in Halifax. “I am honoured to be part of this year’s festivities and hope to see the tree in Boston when I go home for the holidays, just as I did with my family last year.” The special tree-lighting ceremony in Boston will be televised before a crowd of about 30,000 to a TV audience of about 300,000. “We are very grateful to the Milligan family for generously donating this year’s tree, which is Boston’s official Christmas tree,” said Thomas Menino, Mayor of Boston. “The beautiful evergreen will brighten the holidays for the public on Boston Common, and we are pleased that the rich gift-giving tradition continues with our friends in Nova Scotia.” “On behalf of Nova Scotians, I’m very proud that we can share this tradition with our friends in Boston and look forward to this year’s ceremonies,” said Andrew Younger, Minister responsible for Communications Nova Scotia. Wednesday’s Grand Parade sendoff celebration in Halifax will begin at 11:30 a.m. The tree will travel down the Bedford Highway to Halifax’s St. Stephen’s Elementary School, at 3669 Highland Ave., for a 30 minute outdoor student rally at 10 a.m., then travel down Novalea to Devonshire, past the Memorial Bell Tower, to Gottingen, down Russell, onto Barrington, to Halifax’s Grand Parade. The Tree for Boston is transported by the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal via the Digby ferry, across the Bay of Fundy to Saint John, N.B., then down through Maine and on to Massachusetts. It will arrive at Boston Common under police escort and be erected and decorated with hundreds of LED lights. The ceremony will feature two live performances by the Nova Scotian percussion ensemble Squid, and remarks by Mayor Menino and Mr. Younger. To learn more, go to http://novascotia.ca/TreeforBoston. Follow the tree’s travels on Twitter @treeforBoston and “like” the tree on Facebook at www.facebook.com/treeforboston.last_img read more

Fake call centre busted 15 held

first_imgGB Nagar/Ghaziabad: With the arrested of 15 persons, a fake call Center was busted in a joint operation carried out by Gautam Buddh Nagar cyber cell police and Ghaziabad police. Police officials said that the gang used to dupe people by offering them lucrative profits on insurance policies, loans and share market exchange.According to police, the fake call center was being operated from past one year from a rented flat in Shakti Khand-2 in Indirapuram area of Ghaziabad. Cops said that the arrested persons were identified as Sonu,Vickey, Rakesh, Prince, Ravi Kumar, Mhd Kasim, Anis Mirza, Suryakant, Siprince, Sohaib, Sanjay and Kapil and three other women Renu Chaudhary, Nisha and Rachna. All the accused persons are residents of Ghazibad and Delhi and worked as telecallers. Also Read – Cylinder blast kills mother and daughter in Karawal NagarVaibhav Krishna, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Gautam Buddh Nagar said that the matter came to light after an FIR was lodged by a victim in Surajpur police station of Greater Noida, who claimed to have been duped by the gang. “Harjeet Singh, a native of Bhatinda in Punjab, had lodged a complaint against the gang with Gautam Buddh Nagar police. Singh alleged that seven persons of the gang duped him with over Rs 50 lakhs by offering him lucrative profits on LIC policy. Police acted upon the complaint and a trap was laid to nab the accused persons,” said Krishna. Also Read – Two persons arrested for killing manager of Muthoot Finance”The accused persons were arrested on Saturday night from Indirapuram area from a rented house where they were running an office named ‘NCR Insurance Policy’. Police have recovered 36 mobile phones, 28 debit cards and Rs 6 lakh 30 thousand cash apart from a few other documents,” added Krishna. Aparna Gautam, Circle Officer-III, Ghaziabad said that the gang had duped hundreds of persons from Delhi-NCR regions and other various states. “Upon sustained interrogations, it came to light that the gang would specifically target those persons whose policies would have expired and claim to renew the policies. Police have also come across over 25 hired bank accounts whose owners were given a share in the amount deposited in their accounts. We are also scanning and trying to get details of these bank accounts,” said Gautam.last_img read more

Mulcair raises red flags after Canadian sniper breaks record in Iraq

first_imgOTTAWA – NDP leader Tom Mulcair is forgoing the celebration and raising red flags following reports that a Canadian sniper in Iraq shattered the world record for the longest confirmed kill.In a letter Friday to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Mulcair says the incident “seriously calls into question your government’s claim that Canadian forces are not involved in direct combat in Iraq.”National Defence says the sniper is part of the Joint Task Force 2 special forces unit and was supporting Iraqi forces in their fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant when he shot an enemy fighter from 3,540 metres away.That is more than a kilometre farther than the previous record, held by a British sniper who shot a Taliban fighter in Afghanistan in 2009.Officials have refused to provide any other details about the incident, including where and when it occurred, citing operational security. But they maintain that the soldier was operating within the established limits of Canada’s so-called “advise and assist” mission in Iraq.Those limits, however, have been repeatedly questioned over the course of the nearly four-year mission, with much of the debate revolving around whether Canadian soldiers are engaged in combat.While news of the shot has spread like wildfire, prompting accolades and even disbelief from current and former military personnel around the world, Mulcair demanded Trudeau provide answers about the mission in Iraq.“Will you now confirm that Canadian troops have engaged in ground combat since your government took office?” he wrote.“Why have you not declared that the current military operation is now a combat mission? Why has there been no debate in the House of Commons regarding this change of mission?”Opposition parties have repeatedly accused the Liberals of misleading the public about the nature of Canada’s mission in Iraq by claiming that Canadian troops are not in combat.That includes revelations three years ago that Canadian troops were calling in airstrikes on ISIL targets, and last November when it was revealed they could shoot in situations other than self-defence.But National Defence spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier stood on Friday by past assertions that Canadian soldiers are not engaged in combat in Iraq, despite the record-breaking shot.“Members of the Canadian Special Operations Task Force do not accompany leading combat elements, but enable the Iraqi security forces who are in a tough combat mission,” he said.“This takes the form of advice in planning for their operations and assistance to defeat (ISIL) through the use of coalition resources.”The latest controversy comes as the clock ticks down on the current mission in Iraq, whose mandate is set to expire next week.The Liberals have said Canada will maintain a presence in Iraq and the fight against ISIL, though officials say no decision has been made on whether to extend the current mission or change it.Canada has about 200 special forces operating in northern Iraq, including inside Mosul, supported by a combat hospital, a helicopter detachment, a military surveillance plane and an air-to-air refuelling aircraft.last_img read more

Fort Nelson receives a surprise food delivery

first_imgFORT NELSON, B.C. – A refrigerated food truck slipped then tipped over in a ditch, north of Fort Nelson leaving its food available for residents to load up on before the contents of the truck spoiled.Friday, December 14th, a refrigerated truck carrying $150,000 of meat, produce and fruit became an unexpected gift to the community of Fort Nelson. The truck was headed to a grocery store in Alaska, unfortunately, it ended up in a ditch then tipping over. The driver of the truck was without injury yet the contents of the truck now tampered could not be delivered.Devan Boynton and Jenna Mickie Owners/ Operators of Archies Towing recovered the tipped over truck on Saturday, December 15th and were able to get the refrigeration on the truck running to protect the food and not to spoil the produce because of the cold temperatures outside. With the truck parked in the work yard and the permission of the company owner to give away the food. Boynton and Mickie were ready to share. “The food was perfectly packaged and sealed it was in good condition to be given away,” said Boynton who welcomed the community to his towing business’s property so the contents of the truck could be removed and accessed by the community.Sunday, December 16th word had made its way to the FB Group, ‘Rants and Raves Fort Nelson’ via several live videos posted by Lisa Gustafson.  The videos showed a loader removing pallets of food from the truck as smiling happy people urge one another to take food before it spoils from the cold.Close to 500 people came to Archie’s towing, all the food was salvaged and nothing went to waste, residents used boxes, crates and recycle bags as they shared and took food they would use. Packages of meat were wrapped and ready to be sold as they even had price tags, there were hams. pork, chicken, produce included cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes and lettuce. There was even fruit, such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and grapes.Boynton and his business partner/wife Jenna Mickie were very happy, “We felt really good,” said Boynton “We thank the town for helping us and it was nice to welcome the community to see our new location.”last_img read more

UK PM May under pressure to step down over Brexit

first_imgLondon: British Prime Minister Theresa May is facing intense pressure from within her own Cabinet on Sunday to step down over her handling of the Brexit process. According to numerous UK media reports, disgruntled ministers and MPs are plotting to give her an ultimatum to resign as the price for backing her controversial withdrawal agreement in a third Parliament vote next week, a move which could even see her forced out to make way for a caretaker Prime Minister in the form of her deputy David Lidington. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USDowning Street has dismissed reports of any such plot, with Lidington, Britain’s Minister for the Cabinet Office, stressing he is “100 per cent behind the Prime Minister”. “This is not about the Prime Minister changing Prime Ministers wouldn’t help, changing the party of government wouldn’t help,” said UK Chancellor Philip Hammond, calling on MPs to unite behind May. Asked about calls for a second referendum after nearly a million people marched through the streets of London on Saturday to demand a so-called People’s Vote , he agreed that another referendum over Britain’s membership of the European Union (EU) should be considered. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential polls”It is a coherent proposition and deserves to be considered, along with the other proposals,” the senior Cabinet minister said. The latest leadership row within the Conservative Party comes ahead of a week where May is expected to lose further control over the Brexit process as a cross-party group of MPs press for alternatives to her divorce deal to be debated in the House of Commons on Wednesday. May had secured a short delay to the March 29 Brexit deadline from the EU, with the requirement to come up with a credible plan for Britain’s exit from the 28-member economic bloc by April 12 or crash out without any deal in place. If May’s deal is voted through by MPs in a third Commons vote by next week, the EU has agreed to extend the Brexit deadline further until May 22 to finalise the exit strategy. If not, Britain would be heading for a chaotic no-deal Brexit on April 12. The British PM spent the weekend at her countryside retreat at Chequers trying to finalise her next steps ahead of an expected Cabinet meeting on Monday, when ministers may threaten resignations over her Brexit strategy. There is a growing expectation among MPs that Downing Street will try to delay holding the next meaningful vote on her twice-defeated withdrawal agreement over the controversial Irish backstop clause because of concerns that May would have to resign if she lost it for a third time. The vote had been expected early next week if House of Commons Speaker John Bercow allows the motion to be tabled without any substantial changes.last_img read more