Beijing: China’s former internet censor, who once held high-profile meetings with industry leaders such as Apple Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tim Cook and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, has been sentenced to 14 years in prison on corruption charges. The Intermediate People’s Court in the eastern city of Ningbo said Lu Wei had confessed to accepting 32 million yuan ($4.6 million) in bribes, expressed remorse and would not appeal his sentence. Lu helped lead the ruling Communist Party’s tightening of control over domestic cyberspace and championed Beijing’s position that governments have a right to filter and censor their countries’ internet. China has 700 million people online, but heavily censors content, especially that of a political nature, along with sites related to gambling and pornography. Social media sites such as Facebook and Google are also blocked.
NEW DELHI: Putting a full stop to all speculation, the BJP on Sunday released names of candidates in four Lok Sabha seats in Delhi and all the four are sitting MPs — Dr Harsh Vardhan from Chandni Chowk, Manoj Tiwari from North-East, Pravesh Verma from West Delhi and Ramesh Bidhuri from South Delhi. Sources in the party said that the other seats will be out soon and the party is waiting for the list of Congress candidates, after which it will take the final call. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c detailsDr Harsh Vardhan is the incumbent Union science & technology and environment minister. Last time he got 44.58 per cent votes followed by AAP’s Ashutosh (30.71 per cent) and Congress party’s Kapil Sibal (17.94 per cent). AAP has nominated Pankaj Gupta this time and according to sources, Congress may field Delhi unit chief and former CM Shiela Dikshit. From North-East Delhi the BJP has announed the name of its Delhi unit chief Manoj Tiwari, a star campaigner of the party. Last time Tiwari got 45.25 per cent vote followed by AAP’s Anand Kumar (34.31 per cent). This time AAP leader Dilip Pandey is fighting from this seat. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from ThursdayIn the last election, BJP South Delhi candidate Ramesh Bidhuri got 45.17 per cent vote followed by AAP’s Col Devinder Sehrawat with 35.46 per cent and Congress party’s Ramesh Kumar who got 11 per cent vote. This time AAP’s young face Raghav Chadha is fighting from this seat. The BJP’s West Delhi candidate Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma is the son of late BJP leader and Delhi Chief Minister Sahib Singh Verma. In the last election he got 48.30 per cent vote followed by AAP’s Jarnail Singh with 28 per cent and Congress party’s Mahabal Mishra with 14 per cent vote. This time AAP’s candidate from the seat is Balbir Singh Jakhar.
Beijing: China said on Tuesday that the vexed issue of designating Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN will be “properly resolved” but it did not give any timeline, days after Chinese President Xi Jinping met Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan here. China put a technical hold in March on a fresh proposal to impose a ban on the head of Pakistan-based JeM which claimed responsibility for the deadly Pulwama terror attack. It was for the fourth time, China blocked Azhar’s listing as a global terrorist by the UN. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss account details under automatic exchange framework “I can only say that I believe that this will be properly resolved,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a media briefing here. He was responding to questions on the media reports that China has reportedly consented to lift its technical hold on a fresh proposal moved by France, the UK and the US to list Azhar under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council. The US, the UK and France this time stepped up pressure on Beijing by taking the issue directly to the powerful UN Security Council (UNSC). Also Read – Trio win Nobel Medicine Prize for work on cells, oxygen Though China can exercise its veto power as a permanent member of the UNSC, Beijing has staunchly opposed the issue to be taken to the apex UN body as it has to publically explain its stand on its reservations to list Azhar, whose group JeM has already been designated as terror outfit by UN, before exercising its veto. China has accused the US of scuttling progress to resolve the issue by taking it to the UNSC and insisted that it should be resolved at the 1267 Committee whose proceedings are not publicised. “Regarding the listing issue in the 1267 Committee, we have expressed our position many times and I just want to stress two points,” Geng said answering a number of questions on Azhar’s issue. “First, we support the listing issue being settled within the 1267 committee through dialogue and consultation and I believe this is the consensus of most members. Second, the relevant consultations are going on within the committee and has achieved some progress. Third, I believe, with the joint efforts of all parties, this issue can be properly resolved,” he said. On reports that China would lift its technical hold on May 1, he said, “on the listing issue, China is still working with the relevant parties and we are in contact with all relevant parties within the 1267 Committee and I believe with the joint efforts of all parties, this will be properly resolved.” Asked about the recent visit of Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale to Beijing during which he held talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi as well as New Delhi shared the technical evidence of JeM’s involvement in the Pulwama terror attack, Geng reiterated that China is still working with the relevant parties. “I believe with the joint efforts of all parties, this will be properly resolved,” he said. The efforts to resolve Azhar’s listing issue gathered momentum last week with the visit of Imran Khan to Beijing to attend China’s 2nd Belt and Road Forum (BRF) which was held here from April 25-27. During the visit, Khan held talks with Xi, besides meeting Premier Li Keqiang and Vice President Wang Qishan during which India-Pakistan tension following the Pulwama terror attack as well as listing of Azhar reportedly figured. An official statement of China issued after Xi-Khan meeting on Sunday said the Chinese President had expressed hope that Pakistan and India can meet each other halfway and improve their relations. Both leaders also exchanged views on the situation in South Asia. Asked about the outcome of Khan’s visit and his talks with the Chinese leaders, Geng said, “I would like to stress that Pakistan is China’s ‘All Weather Strategic Cooperative Partner’.” Both the countries are “Iron Brothers”, he said, adding that “we firmly support each other on the issues concerning our core interests. Pakistan is always one of China’s diplomatic priorities”. “No matter how the international and regional situation may evolve, we firmly support Pakistan in safeguarding its sovereignty and dignity, independently choosing its development path based on its own conditions, securing a sound external environment and playing a constructive role in international and regional affairs,” he said. “We commend the Pakistani government’s and people’s efforts in fighting terrorism and extremism and their great endeavours and sacrifices to this end,” he said, lauding Pakistan’s counter terrorism efforts. “We call on the international community to fairly and justly see Pakistan’s endeavours and contributions in counter terrorism and step up dialogue and cooperation with the country,” he said. China and Pakistan will continue to deepen their high level exchanges and support each other and step up strategic coordination, “make more coordinated efforts in international and regional affairs and deepen our all weather strategic cooperation,” he added.
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó took to the streets a small contingent of heavily armed troops early Tuesday, calling for the military to rise up and oust socialist leader Nicolas Maduro. In an all-or-nothing gamble, the Trump administration’s man in Caracas, opposition leader Juan Guaidó, has opened what he’s calling the “final phase” of the effort to overthrow the elected government of Venezuela. Appearing in a video flanked by a few dozen heavily armed troops outside La Carlota air base in the capital city before sunrise on Tuesday morning, Guaidó said: “the moment is now.” Beside him stood another opposition figure, Leopoldo López, who played a role in the 2002 coup attempt against former President Hugo Chávez. Until today, López was under house arrest; now he is somehow on the loose. Also Read – A special kind of bondWith the opposition resorting to open military rebellion on the streets of Caracas, the slow-motion coup against Venezuelan democracy that has been underway for some time appears to be reaching its crescendo. Trump recognised Guaidó as “acting president” in January and began shifting control of Venezuelan state assets in the US to him. In the months since then, provocations meant to push the government of President Nicolás Maduro into heavy-handed repression have been steadily escalating. At least a thousand soldiers, national guardsmen, and other security officials who had abandoned their posts and fled to Colombia have been slowly slipping back into the country, possibly in preparation for today. Also Read – Insider threat managementThe majority of the Venezuelan people and the bulk of the armed forces remain loyal to the constitutional government of Nicolas Maduro, but the Washington-backed opposition is putting everything on the line in a make-or-break moment. If Guaidó prevails, Latin America gets its newest US-installed extreme right-wing government and the Bolivarian Revolution will be extinguished. Venezuela’s unforgivable sin has been its insistence, since the election of Chávez in 1998, to chart its own path of development independent of US control and neoliberal economics. Over the past 20 years, the socialist government has pursued programs to tackle inequality and mass poverty, devoting larger shares of the country’s wealth to education, health, and social welfare. It nationalised more of the country’s massive oil industry and devoted the resources to social programmes — a blow to US energy giants like ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips. Venezuela’s success helped set off a “pink wave” of left-led coalition victories in elections across the region. Tangible alternatives to the old status quo in Latin America were being built everywhere. A combination of efforts by local right-wing forces and US economic pressure, however, has succeeded in rolling back most of these gains. Venezuela, the biggest prize of all, is one of the last left-led governments still standing. The Venezuelan economy is in a state of severe crisis. The US sanctions and product and food shortages (often purposely engineered by Venezuelan businesses), combined with hyperinflation and government mismanagement, have weakened support for Maduro. For too long, the state remained dependent on oil revenue to fund its “social missions,” but world oil prices have fallen sharply since the early 2000s. The financial boom that sustained the Bolivarian Revolution’s programs is long passed. Over three million Venezuelans have left the country and even among its supporters, like the Communist Party of Venezuela, the Maduro government is facing criticism for its “lack of response” to the hardships being imposed on the population. Venezuelan oligarchs, the extreme right, and the US foreign policy establishment and its corporate backers have calculated that now is the time to strike. The Venezuelan government is weakened. Guaidó has united the usually fractious opposition forces. And an administration more determined to dominate and control Latin America rules in Washington. All the pieces have lined up to re-assert imperial power over wayward Venezuela. As if on cue, the leading lights of the pro-regime change crowd are publicly cheering on the overthrow of democracy in Venezuela this morning. National Security Advisor John Bolton, one of the architects of the Iraq War and advocate of attacking Iran, was quick to declare US backing for Guaidó. Trump’s Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, said the opposition forces “cannot be defeated.” And Florida’s Sen. Marco Rubio, knowing what was at stake, tweeted to the opposition: “Do not allow this moment to slip away. It may not come again.” The Organisation for the American States, longing a channel for the dissemination of US policy in the region, is backing the coup. The right-wing governments which surround Venezuela are also joining the chorus, with Colombian President Iván Duque and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro both declaring for Guaidó. Cuba and Bolivia, meanwhile, remain steadfast behind Maduro. There is no going back from this point for Guaidó and the opposition. If their efforts fail today, as they have in the past, it is hard to imagine how Washington’s “acting president” could possibly continue as the open and public leader of the anti-Maduro forces. With the backing of the Trump administration, he has repeatedly incited military officers to treason and instigated economic sabotage. After conferring with army chiefs, Maduro says the military is behind the government and that “nerves of steel” will carry the day against the opposition. Polling also suggests that despite their unhappiness with the Maduro government, the vast majority of Venezuelans are strongly opposed to any foreign intervention into their country’s affairs. (The author is the Managing Editor, People’s World. Views expressed are strictly personal)
Literally translating into the ‘abode of clouds’, Meghalaya boasts of charming scenery and serenity. Aside misty hills, valleys, sparkling lakes and rivers, this heavenly state of India is also endowed with numerous gorgeous waterfalls. From creating sacred forests and building bridges of living roots to garnering beliefs in forest spirits and stone monoliths along with boasting of some of the cleanest villages in Asia, people of Meghalaya share a fascinating relationship with nature. Also Read – Oman – Beauty with an addressAs a child, I was always fascinated by the beauty of Shillong and Cherrapunji. The hills, clean and bountiful rivers, lakes, virgin forests (known as sacred groves here) and waterfalls, few of which could be seen even from our small home, are some of my fondest memories. My native place, Shillong, never went out of my memory even after more than three decades of living in Delhi. The reasons were obvious – its charm and unending beauty. I happily packed for a trip to Shillong when my husband offered me to accompany him on a business trip. The promise was to take him around some unexplored places of Shillong and Cherrapunji. We took an early morning flight from Delhi to Guwahati and proceeded to Shillong by car, which took us around 2.5 hrs. Also Read – CANADA: A traveller’s delightVisiting Shillong after a gap of three years, I noticed that the roads have widened to four lanes, shortening the journey by an hour with enhanced driving comfort. Our first stop was a viewpoint from where we could see Barapani or Umiam Lake, nestling among pine trees. After capturing a few shots and savouring the sweetest slices of pineapples, we proceeded further. The road from here onwards winds through picturesque pine hills, a treat to the eye. We reached our hotel around noon and after a quick lunch, we set out for sightseeing before dusk set in at around 5 pm. Our first destination was Wards Lake situated at the foot of pinewood hill. The highlights of the lake are the hundreds of fish below its iconic wooden bridge. We threw popcorn and, soon, innumerable fish came to gobble them. We then proceeded for Lady Hydari Park, a well laid-out park with vivid varieties of flowers and orchids. The weeping willow swaying lazily in the breeze adds to the serenity of the park. In the evening, we enjoyed a glimpse of traditional Meghalaya dances. There are three primary forms of dances performed in the state by three respective tribes, Khasi, Garo and Jaintia. The Khasi dancers performed a Thanksgiving Dance, Shad Suk Minsiem. While the girls wore traditional silk dhara (a yellow silk festive dress) and gold and red beads jewellery, the men were in traditional shirts, jackets and dhotis. Chad Sukra or sowing festival dance of the Jaintia tribe was also performed. The Wangle dance of the Garo tribe to the rhythm of long tribal drums induced us to sway to the beat. Next morning, after an early breakfast, we started our journey to Cherrapunji known as ‘Sohra’ by the locals. We stopped at the Shillong peak and enjoyed a panoramic view of the city below. From Shillong peak, we headed straight to Cherrapunji. On the way, we reached a dense forest where our guide Gregory Warjari informed that we were heading for a three-tier fall recently discovered by locals. The walk to the falls was tough. There are spots where one has to go down at a 900 angle. Makeshift bamboo ladders are used to tackle the steep trek. The gruelling journey was forgotten once we confronted the majestic three-tier Weisawdeng falls. Nestled in the thick of green vegetation were three pools of emerald water. We spent some time wading our feet, trying to imbibe the jungle sounds and gargling water. After the arduous trek followed by lunch, we left for the Mawsmai caves. These are wonderful lime caves with mesmerising stalactite and stalagmite formations. These caves are well-lit and it is quite adventurous to walk, crawl and slide through the caves. After this, we drove a few kilometres through rugged rocky landscape to reach the Nohkalikai Falls. The falls has a height of 1,115 ft. But as it is rain-fed, there was less water during March. The small shops lined along the viewpoint of the falls had an array of local products like cinnamon, bay leaves and berries. It was amusing to note that these small shops, like other roadside tea shops and eateries, are ‘manned’ by ladies. Being a matriarchal society, women occupy a very respectable place in Meghalaya’s social structure. As dusk set in, the clouds descended and it started drizzling. In the evening, we enjoyed music around a bonfire. The next morning, we were awoken at 5 am by bright sunlight pouring through the wide windows of our room. After a quick breakfast, we set on our way to Dawki, a three-hour journey towards the Indo-Bangladesh border. The vegetation had by now changed from pine to more tropical as we were heading towards the warmer areas of Meghalaya. We decided to go a little further from Dawki to Shnongpdeng. The water of River Umngot is so clear at this point that the bedrocks are visible as are the fish swimming through the rocks. Going by its name, once again, the bright sunny day quickly became cloudy and it began pouring. But the rain receded by the time we reached the famous Living Root bridge. It was again quite a trek to reach the root bridge. But it was worth every bit. What an amazing example of coexistence of man and nature! Ancestors of this land faced tremendous problem crossing the river during monsoons when water gushed down in great speed. The bamboo bridges they constructed were either washed away or decayed. So, they came up with this idea of living root bridge. They planted rubber trees on either side of the river and then laid a bamboo bridge across the water. To this bridge, they entwined the roots of the rubber tree. With passing time, when the bamboos decayed, the roots had already grown and replaced the bamboos and formed a bridge. These bridges are still widely used in the interiors of Meghalaya. Our final stop was Mawlyngong, the cleanest village in Asia. This hamlet located in the East Khasi Hills is referred to as ‘God’s own garden’. The entire village replicates a garden, with flowers of the most exotic varieties blossoming all around. Every nook and corner has a traditional dustbin made of bamboo hanging from a tree or a post. Positively, with more inflow of tourists to this village, the income of villagers is increasing. But, as a result, the simple humble abodes are being gradually replaced by concrete houses. Wide roads are replacing narrow lanes. With modernisation, the essence and the old charm of the village is fast disappearing. For us Delhiites, this trip was very refreshing. It was a visit to a place so different in culture, language, food and dress. Yet, we did not feel as if we are in another world. That’s the beauty of unity in diversity of India.
Cairo — Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi Sunday backed Saudi Arabia’s rejection of a seat on the UN Security Council, saying the diplomatic body had failed in its responsibility towards the Arab world.Arabi told reporters that Saudi Arabia was right to object to the Security Council’s management methods and the fact that it failed in its responsibility to secure international peace, “which it is not doing at all.”He said Arab states, including Palestine and Syria, were the worst affected by the Security Council’s weakness in the last six decades. His remarks come a day after Arab nations urged Saudi Arabia to reverse its decision to reject a seat on the 15-nation Security Council.Arab ambassadors to the UN said it was crucial for Saudi Arabia to represent the Arab and Muslim world on the council “at this important and historical stage, specifically for the Middle East region.”Saudi Arabia won a prized two-year seat on the Security Council on Thursday, but a day later Riyadh said it would not take it up because of the world body’s “double standards” on Syria and other Middle East hotspots.“Work mechanisms and double-standards on the Security Council prevent it from carrying out its duties and assuming its responsibilities in keeping world peace,” the Saudi foreign ministry said, calling for reforms of the council.Many diplomats and analysts have said the Saudi protest was a message to the United States that it wanted a tougher stance on Syria and was angry that Washington had opened contacts with Tehran, a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Washington – For the USA, Morocco is a key regional actor, said top officials of the Department of State who were briefing via teleconference accredited reporters with the US diplomacy on the tour by Secretary of State John Kerry in several MENA countries.We consider that Morocco, where Kerry is expected to arrive on November 11, is a key regional actor, they said on Sunday in Washington.They added that Rabat and Washington are linked by a strategic dialogue, an FTA enforced in 2006 and a Millennium account challenge compact worth 700 million dirhams. The upcoming visit by John Kerry and the Morocco-US strategic dialogue highlight the special, long-standing partnership between America and the Kingdom, spokesperson of the Department of State Jen Psaki said on Thursday.
Geneva- Morocco boasts a flagship model of integrated child protection policy at the regional level, Minister of Solidarity, Women, family and Social Development, Bassima Hakkaoui, said Wednesday in Geneva.The Kingdom is characterized by a public policy project concocted through a consultation process involving all relevant stakeholders, the minister told the Moroccan News Agency (MAP) on the sidelines of the examination of the third and fourth periodic reports of Morocco before the committee on the rights of the child.This strategy is overseen by a ministerial committee under the chairmanship of the Government Chief, underlined Hakkaoui, who chairs the Moroccan delegation participating in this debate, held within the framework of the 67th session of the Committee. During this debate, the committee members praised the progress made in Morocco in the protection of children’s rights by setting specific goals as part of the implementation of Morocco’s international commitments in this field.
Rabat – King Mohammed VI of Morocco arrived this Sunday in New Delhi to participate in the third India-Africa Forum Summit, scheduled for October 26 to 29.Spokesperson of India’s Ministry of External Affairs, Vikas Swarup announced in a tweet that King Mohammed VI is the first head of state to arrive in New Delhi, adding that he “was received by Minister [of State for Agriculture] Sanjeev Balyan”.#IAFS The first Head of State arrives. King of Morocco Mohammed VI in Delhi, received by Minister Sanjeev Balyan pic.twitter.com/ZIX2jEVkCV— Vikas Swarup (@MEAIndia) October 25, 2015The India-Africa Summit begins on Monday but the main summit, attended by heads of state and government, including nearly 40 kings, presidents and prime ministers, is on October 29. The Summit will provide a high-level political platform for African Heads of State and government and the Indian government to debate their common problems, including food, health and environment, as well as expand cooperation on maritime security and counterterrorism.This is the second trip of King Mohammed VI to India, since he came to power in 1999. Multiple local media reports said the visit translates the importance Morocco attaches to strengthening its relations with the Asian country.Moroccan-Indian trade relations have scored a steady growth recently. In 2014, trade between the two countries stood at $1.36 billion, with India’s exports to Morocco amounting to $500.5 million, while imports were valued at $855.8 million.Indian exports to Morocco in 2014 decreased by 21.6 percent compared to the previous year, while Moroccan exports to India registered an increase of 10.2 percent. The trade balance is almost always in favor of Morocco due to exports of phosphoric acid and rock phosphate to India.
Abidjan – Ivorian president Alassane Ouattara arrived on Sunday in Marrakech to take part in the 22nd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-22).During his visit to the Kingdom, President Ouattara will hold talks with several heads of state and other personalities, Cote d’Ivoire’s presidency said in a statement.Ivorian President will visit France on Tuesday, November 22, where he will hold talks with French President, François Hollande, the same source said. The COP 22 is an opportunity to debate and discuss several issues relating in particular to agriculture, food security, energy, industry, transport and water.The event is taking place in Bab Ighli village, which extends over an area of nearly 300,000 m2.Around 20,000 delegates from 196 countries are gathering at the COP 22.