Thursday, January 4, 2018

Sri Lanka’s ex-Central Bank chief Arjuna Mahendran held responsible for bond scam

Arjuna Mahendran was hand-picked by PM Wickremesinghe

A Presidential Commission of Inquiry has held former Governor of Sri Lanka’s Central Bank Arjuna Mahendran responsible for causing a loss of LKR 11,145 million to public institutions.

In a televised statement on Wednesday, President Maithripala Sirisena said: “I will not hesitate to take steps to recover the loss of LKR 11,145 million to the government and to take legal action against the offenders and punish them.”

‘PM didn’t take action’

The commission had also noted that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who hand-picked Mr. Mahendran for the role, did not take action against him for wrongdoing.

Further, it recommended legal action against former Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayake for corruption and providing false evidence.
In August 2017, Mr. Karunanayake, a prominent figure in Mr. Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP), resigned amid opposition and civil society pressure.

He is accused of financial links with bond dealer and son-in-law of Mr. Mahendran, Arjun Aloysius, whose firm Perpetual Treasuries bought over 50% of the controversial bond auction in 2015. The commission has recommended legal action against Mr. Aloysius too, among others.
The Central Bank bond scam was the first major blow to the newly-elected government, especially to the UNP. Earlier, in October 2016, a parliamentary Committee on Public Enterprises ruled that Mr. Mahendran was “directly responsible” for the irregularities in the bond sale.
In January 2017, Mr. Sirisena appointed a Commission of Inquiry to probe the matter further, a move that some in political circles saw as a reflection of the growing tension between his Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and Mr. Wickremesinghe’s UNP, coalition partners in the government.
The hindu

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

India caste protest disrupts Mumbai

Thousands of protesters from India's low-caste Dalit community have disrupted key transport services in the country's financial capital, Mumbai.

Several local trains have been delayed or cancelled, buses have been damaged and schools are shut.

Similar disruptions have also been reported from other parts of the western state of Maharashtra.

Dalit groups are protesting against violence involving right-wing Hindu groups in Pune city on Monday.

One man was killed in the clashes as Dalits marked the 200th anniversary of a battle they won, fighting alongside British colonial forces, against an upper caste ruler.

More than 100 protesters have been arrested since then. The state authorities have appealed for peace.

Devendra Fadnavis, the state's chief minister, has ordered a judicial inquiry into the clashes in Pune.

Many domestic airlines have waived cancellation charges on flights to and from Mumbai as well as other neighbouring cities.

The city also witnessed violence on Tuesday as protesters pelted stones at trains and clashed with security forces in several locations.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Korea dog meat campaigners accused of barking up wrong tree

Barking at their rescuers, labradors, beagles and mongrels desperately scrambled out of rusty cages in South Korea: saved from the dinner plate by a deal with dog-meat farmer Kim Young-Hwan.

In the face of falling demand, Kim agreed to close his establishment in exchange for compensation from US-based Humane Society International (HSI). The dogs are bound for a new life in adoptive homes in the West.

He is the 10th canine-meat farmer to accept such an offer in three years. The exact sums are confidential, but each deal requires hundreds of thousands of dollars once adoption costs are included.

"This business is doomed... I wanted to quit before it's too late," Kim said.

The 56-year-old had 170 dogs at his farm in Namyangju, north of Seoul.

"The price has plummeted in recent years," he told AFP. "I'm barely making ends meet these days. Plus I've been harassed by animal rights groups all the time. It's such a hassle."

The push by animal rights activists, including many overseas groups, to outlaw dog meat consumption in the South has sparked mixed reactions and accusations of Western hypocrisy.

- 'Lambs or rabbits' -

South Koreans are believed to consume about one million dogs a year as a summertime delicacy, with the greasy red meat -- which is invariably boiled for tenderness -- believed to increase energy.

The tradition has declined as the nation increasingly embraces the idea of dogs as pets instead of livestock, with eating them now something of a taboo among young South Koreans.

Nevertheless, activists have stepped up campaigns to ban dog consumption, with online petitions urging boycotts of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics over the issue and protests in Seoul.

Such lobbying has provoked angry debates over what many describe as cultural double standards.

"I don't eat dogs, but I am disgusted by those who preach that only animals deemed cuddly enough or friendly enough by Westerners deserve to live," read one online comment.

One fifth of the South's 50 million people own pets, mostly dogs and cats, said another netizen, but for many of the rest, dogs were "no more special than lambs or rabbits".

Similar debates have emerged in other Asian nations where dogs are eaten.

China's most notorious dog meat festival in the southwestern town of Yulin has drawn crowds despite international outrage, with sellers saying the criticism has actually encouraged more people to eat canines.

Taiwan banned dog meat consumption in April to mixed reaction, with some deeming it unfair to single out certain species under what was mocked as the "cute animal protection law".

Polls show South Korean public opinion is divided.

According to a survey this year 70 percent of South Koreans do not eat dogs, but far fewer -- about 40 percent -- believe the practice should be banned.

It also found 65 percent support raising and slaughtering dogs in more humane conditions.

There is currently no law on how to treat or slaughter canines in the meat trade in South Korea. But while farmers have urged Seoul to include dogs under livestock welfare regulations, animal rights groups oppose doing so, seeking complete abolition instead.

- Suffer and love -

At Kim's rundown farm, dogs sat behind tarnished brown rusty bars, their bowls filled with soupy scraps.

Housed in pairs, they spent up to a year in cages about two square metres and reeking of excrement before being sent to slaughterhouses.

Senior HSI director Kelly O'Meara said no animals should endure such awful conditions, and dogs in particular had "a special place" for people as they are often pets.

"That has certainly been the case in the West, but in Asia we see more and more people having dogs as companion animals too," she told AFP.

Each such farm closure -- one of HSI's most expensive initiatives -- is broadcast live online.

But Ahn Yong-Geun, a food and nutrition professor at ChungCheong University in Cheongju, questioned whether such organisations would condemn larger-scale beef or pork industries -- which have lobbying power and broad public support -- "in the same angry, aggressive fashion".

"The activists won't get as much excitement from donors about a pig rescue project or a cow rescue project, although these animals have just as much capacity to suffer and love as dogs," said Ahn, a vocal critic of the push to ban dog meat.

Wendy Higgins, director of international media at HSI, said the group encouraged people to "reduce and replace meat in their diet" but admitted rescue campaigns for animals such as cattle or pigs were not common.

Even so campaigns against cruelty in dog farming could "make people widen their circle of compassion for other animals in animal agriculture too", she added.

For his part farmer Kim will not be raising any other animals for meat -- he is banned from doing so under the deal with HSI.

"The social atmosphere has changed," he said, adding: "Eating dog is seen as if it's a crime these days."

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Designer Of Bugs Bunny, Bob Givens Passes Away

Bugs Bunny’s animator, Bob Givens had recently passed away at the age of 99 on 14, December.

Givens drew the very first official design for our favourite Looney Tunes icon. His daughter, Mariana had Givens posted about his health on Facebook and said that his condition had changed and was resting peacefully in Palliative care at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Burbank. The next day, she posted that he had passed away.

Givens had worked for Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and then moved to Warner Bros. He worked with Chuck Jones and Tex Avery.

Givens created the official design for Bugs Bunny in 1940. And this appeared in the animated movie, A Wild Hare. This movie had included a famous phrase, “What’s up, Doc? which is now synonymous with our character.

Obama warns against 'irresponsible' social media use

Former US President Barack Obama has warned against the irresponsible use of social media, in a rare interview since stepping down in January.

He warned that such actions were distorting people's understanding of complex issues, and spreading misinformation.

His successor Donald Trump is a prolific user of Twitter, but Mr Obama did not mention him by name.

Mr Obama was quizzed by Prince Harry on BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Prince Harry, fifth in line to the throne, is one of several prominent figures who are guest-editing the programme over the Christmas period.

The ex-president said those in positions of power should be careful when posting messages, warning that social media is distorting civil discourse.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Alberto Fujimori Asks Peruvians for Forgiveness

Former President Alberto Fujimori, in his first public statement since being granted a medical pardon, acknowledged on Tuesday that he had disappointed many Peruvians and asked for forgiveness “with all my heart.”

video of Mr. Fujimori speaking from a hospital bed was released on his official Facebook page on Tuesday. The former leader, who had been imprisoned for human rights abuses, also thanked President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who had granted the pardon.

I am aware that the results during my government on one side were well received,” Mr. Fujimori said in the video. “On the other hand, I recognize that I have also disappointed other fellow Peruvians. I ask them to forgive me with all my heart.”

The decision to pardon Mr. Fujimori, who is 79 and has cardiac arrhythmia and tongue cancer, among other medical problems, prompted an outcry across the nation. Thousands have taken to the streets across the country to protest the move.

In a televised address on Monday, Mr. Kuczynski defended his decision as justified clemency for an ailing man whose authoritarian government had helped the country progress. He urged protesters to “turn the page” and accept it.

I am convinced that those of us who feel democratic should not allow Alberto Fujimori to die in prison, because justice is not revenge,” Mr. Kuczynski said, adding, “This has been perhaps the most difficult decision of my life.”

Monday, December 25, 2017

The tsunami of 2004 has taken place for 13 years. It's a video that's about those memories.

Guatemala Says it Will Relocate its Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

Guatemala’s president announced on Christmas Eve that the Central American country will move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, becoming the first nation to follow the lead of U.S. President Donald Trump in ordering the change.

Guatemala was one of nine nations that voted with the United States and Israel on Thursday when the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted a non-binding resolution denouncing Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Trump didn’t set any timetable for moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and neither did Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

A DAY IN A MANGER This is why we celebrate Christmas on December 25… and it’s not because that’s when Jesus was born

The nativity didn't take place in December at all

EVERY year, on Christmas day, Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus and churches all over the country tell the nativity story.

We have celebrated Christmas on this date since the fourth century
It turns out that is pretty unlikely – and he was probably born in the spring or autumn.

In fact, no one knows the exact date of the birth, and the bible doesn’t specify a date.

The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25th was in 336, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine - the first Christian Roman Emperor.

A few years after that, Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated then.

The birth of Jesus was unlikely to have been in December

The reason for the choice of December 25 goes back to an ancient belief that prophets died on the same date they were conceived.

Believing Jesus died on March 25, early theologians pinpointed that as the date of the annunciation, when Mary was told she would have the baby.

December 25 is nine months after that and was, therefore, chosen as the birth date.

WEDDING ALBUM!Virat Kohli Anushka Sharma Wedding/Marriage Video - Italy!...

Friday, December 22, 2017

We throw out a third of all food we grow

In US and Canada, around 40% of leftovers are discarded

Washington: Globally, we throw out about 1.3 billion tonnes of food a year, or a third of all the food that we grow.
That’s important for at least two reasons. The less the world wastes, the easier it will be to meet the food needs of the global population in coming years. Second, cutting back on waste could go a long way to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

How do we manage to waste so much?

Food waste is a glaring measure of inequality. In poor countries, most of the food waste is on the farm or on its way to market. In South Asia, for instance, half of all the cauliflower that’s grown is lost because there’s not enough refrigeration, according to Rosa Rolle, an expert on food waste and loss at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Why is recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital so contentious?

Of all the issues at the heart of the enduring conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, none is as sensitive as the status of Jerusalem. The holy city has been at the centre of peace-making efforts for decades.

Seventy years ago, when the UN voted to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, Jerusalem was defined as a separate entity under international supervision. In the war of 1948 it was divided, like Berlin in the cold war, into western and eastern sectors under Israeli and Jordanian control respectively. Nineteen years later, in June 1967, Israel captured the eastern side, expanded the city’s boundaries and annexed it – an act that was never recognised internationally.

Israel routinely describes the city, with its Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy places, as its “united and eternal” capital. For their part, the Palestinians say East Jerusalem must be the capital of a future independent Palestinian state. The unequivocal international view, accepted by all previous US administrations, is that the city’s status must be addressed in peace negotiations.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Exclusive Video Of Jayalalithaa Inside Apollo Hospital

Jonghyun: Funeral held for K-pop star and Shinee member

A private funeral service is being held for Korean superstar Jonghyun, who took his own life last week aged 27.
Jonghyun, whose real name was Kim Jong-hyun, was the lead singer of one of the biggest K-pop groups, Shinee.

His death has sparked waves of grief among the global K-pop community - hundreds of fans have paid tribute at the hospital where his body was held.

A note believed to have been sent by him to a friend spoke of his struggles with depression and fame.
It said he was "broken from the inside" and that "the life of fame was never meant for me".

Fish sex so loud it could deafen dolphins

A species of Mexican fish amasses in reproductive orgies so loud they can deafen other sea animals, awed scientists said Wednesday, calling for preservation of the "spectacle" threatened by overfishing.
An individual spawning Gulf corvina, said the research team, utters a mating call resembling "a really loud machine gun", with multiple, rapid sound pulses.

And when hundreds of thousands of fish get together to spawn once a year, "the collective chorus sounds like a crowd cheering at a stadium or perhaps a really loud beehive," study co-author Timothy Rowell from the University of San Diego told AFP.

"The sound levels generated by chorusing is loud enough to cause at least temporary if not permanent hearing loss in marine mammals that were observed preying on the fish," he said.

Rowell and colleague Brad Erisman of the University of Texas used specialised underwater sound gear to eavesdrop on spawning Gulf corvina, a popular eating fish.

Each spring, all adults of the species migrate to a single site -- the Colorado River Delta in the northernmost part of Mexico's Gulf of California -- for what scientists call a "spawning aggregation" that can number into the low millions.

The frenzy sees all the world's adult corvinas gathered in less than one percent of their usual home range for a few weeks.

During this time, male corvinas emit calls that reverberate through the hulls of fishing boats, and can be heard even above water -- drawing in the fishers.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Sunny Leone declines to perform in Bengaluru

Says safety is more important
Actor Sunny Leone has finally spoken out about the controversy surrounding her performance in the city on New Year’s eve. Taking to social media on Tuesday, she said she will not perform in Bengaluru, as safety is more important.

The police had announced that permission will not be given to the event, proposed to be held in Manyata Tech Park.

Earlier, activists of the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike Yuva Sene had protested against Ms. Leone’s participation in the New Year’s eve party, even threatening ‘mass suicide’ if she were to perform.
However, the police maintained that their decision to deny permission for the event had nothing to do with the protest and was taken keeping law and order concerns in mind, as most of the police personnel would be deployed on bandobast duty on that day.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Malaysia and Sri Lanka to enhance cooperation in many fields

President Maithripala Sirisena and the visiting Prime Minister of Malaysia Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak agreed to expand existing close cooperation in many fields including trade and investment, agriculture, science and technology including nano and bio technology, e-commerce, e-courts, international forums, military training, diplomatic training and intelligence exchange to curb drugs and human smuggling.

Three agreements were signed after the bilateral talks held between the two leaders, in which, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and number of Malaysian and Sri Lankan ministers also participated. The bilateral meeting was held at the Presidential Secretariat, today (18).

Sunday, December 17, 2017

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