Germany eases dual citizenship rules

News4u-News Desk-Germany has adopted a new law that allows dual citizenship for the children of immigrants, a step that will benefit mainly young people from the country’s three-million-strong Turkish-origin community

Until now, Germany-born children of immigrants from most non-EU countries were granted both German and their parents’ citizenship at birth but then had to opt for one of them by age 23.

Under a law passed yesterday, those born since 1990 will now be allowed to keep both passports, scrapping the requirement that had forced young adults to make an often agonising choice.

The rule applies for those who at age 21 have lived in Germany at least eight years and attended school for at least six, and for holders of German school diplomas or job qualifications.

Representatives of the Turkish community have argued the new law does not go far enough because it excludes first-generation immigrants who came to Germany as “guest workers”.

The citizenship reform was a key demand of the centre-left Social Democrats before they agreed to join Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives in a ‘grand coalition’ government last year.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, a conservative, called the law’s passage a “big step”, while recalling that the debate over the change “a bitter and hard battle”.

Conservatives had opposed dual citizenship in such cases, arguing that it is impossible to be loyal to two countries.

In the end the law passed by 463-111 with one abstention. Social Democrat lawmaker Ruediger Veit hailed the “huge step toward a modern citizenship law”.

“From now on every child who is born here and grows up here is and remains a citizen of this country, with all the rights and obligations,” said Veit.

Germany had already allowed dual citizenship if the other country was a member of the 28-nation European Union or one of several dozen other nations.

Angela Merkel

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AgustaWestland: ED slaps laundering case against ex-IAF chief

News4u-News Desk-Stepping up the heat in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday registered a money laundering case against former IAF chief SP Tyagi and others to probe proceeds of crime in the alleged kickbacks paid to procure the flying machines.

ED, which earlier registered a case under foreign exchange laws in this deal, decided to slap a criminal case to track the “illegal money” of the bribe, alleged to be over Rs 360 crore, dealt between the middlemen and other people named by CBI in its FIR filed in March 2013.

Taking cognisance of the more-than-a-year-old CBI complaint, the agency has booked Tyagi, his family members, European nationals Carlo Gerosa, Christian Michel and Guido Haschke and four companies — Italy-based Finmeccanica, UK-based AgustaWestland and Chandigarh-based IDS Infotech and Aeromatrix — in its criminal complaint filed under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

A total of 13 entities have been named by ED in the case.

Sources said the agency will soon initiate the process of recording of statements of these people even as it dispatches Letters Rogatory (LRs), or judicial requests to a few European countries, including Italy, seeking their cooperation.

Sources said the agency has already zeroed in on some of the immovable and movable assets of the accused which will be attached under the provisions of the laundering laws.

In order to track the alleged “bribe money” in this deal, it was important for the agency to register a criminal case as that would be conducive for it to seek cooperation from other countries under existing treaties and tax information exchange protocols.

The supply of 12 VVIP helicopters from AgustaWestland came under the scanner after Italian authorities alleged that bribe was paid by the company to clinch the deal.

The Italian prosecutor who carried out the preliminary inquiry alleged that the CEO of Finmeccanica, the parent company of UK-based AgustaWestland, had used the services of middlemen to bribe Indian officials.

The agency has already approached Defence Ministry seeking the relevant documents and other vital details available with them in this regard.

The documents, sources said, would help both the probes registered by ED — of foreign exchange violations (under the Foreign Exchange Management Act) and the laundering case filed on Friday.

Sources said the two cases registered by ED would be conducted separately.

The agency has also got in touch with some banks which were found to have been used to channel funds of private firms and individuals allegedly involved in the case.

CBI’s allegation against the former Air Chief is that he reduced the flying ceiling of the helicopter so that AgustaWestland was included in the bids.

Tyagi has dismissed the allegations against him and denied any wrongdoing.

CBI has questioned most of the India-based accused in this case.

It also recently questioned former West Bengal Governor MK Narayanan and Goa Governor BV Wanchoo as “witnesses” in the case.

Defence Ministry has encashed a major chunk of bank guarantees worth over Rs 2,400 crore deposited by AgustaWestland in banks in Italy and India after the deal was scrapped by the previous UPA government in December last year.

former IAF chief SP Tyagi

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PM inaugurates Uri hydroelectric project

News4u-News Desk-Prime Minister Narendra Modi today inaugurated the 240-Megawatt Uri-II Hydro Electric Project (HEP) located near the Line of Control in Baramulla district of Kashmir.

Inaugurating the 240-Megawatt Uri-II Hydro Electric Project (HEP) located near the Line of Control in Baramulla district of Kashmir, he said renewable energy, including hydro power, is fast developing as an alternative to thermal power.

He cited the success of Bhutan in developing alternative sources of power as an example which “impressed” him during his visit to the Himalayan kingdom last month.

Modi also supported the PPP model to improve the power infrastructure of the country. Taking a dig at the previous UPA government, he said had the issue of establishing transmission lines been taken up by it in right earnest, the situation would have been much better now.

He also announced starting of Class XI in the local Kendriya Vidyalaya from this month following the demand of locals who met him during his visit.

“The future of a country is bright if its people demand education. I am very happy to make this announcement,” he said.

The Prime Minister dedicated the power project to the nation in the presence of Jammu and Kashmir Governor N N Vohra, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and top officials of National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC).

This is the second power project on Jhelum river in Uri area and is located downstream of 480-MW Uri-I HEP, which is already operational.

The Uri-II HEP has a concrete gravity dam which is 52-metre high and 157-metre long with four spillways of nine metres each.

The 4.23-km head race tunnel carries water from the dam to the powerhouse, which has four units of 60 MW each designed to generate 1,124 million units of electricity in a year.

The work on the power project was completed in time despite a massive earthquake striking the area on October 8, 2005 two weeks after Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) started work on it.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi

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Nine killed in landslide at Indonesian gold mine

News4u-News Desk-A landslide at an illegal gold mine has killed nine men in remote eastern Indonesia, an official said on Friday, the latest deaths in an industry that is booming across the sprawling archipelago.

Four people were still missing and two others were rescued alive after the landslide struck Wednesday near Dageuwo village, Papua province, local search and rescue chief Marsudi told.

Rescuers had to fly to the scene of the accident in the country’s easternmost province, as the mountainous, remote area could not be reached by land, said the official, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

All the victims were believed to be illegal miners, he added. Illegal gold mining has boomed in Indonesia in recent years as the price of the precious metal has surged, and deaths are common.

But experts warn that the widespread practice of using mercury to extract gold from ore is putting the health of miners at risk and poisoning communities where they work.

The United Nations estimates that up to 15 million so-called “artisanal small-scale gold miners” operate in 70 countries worldwide.

Nine killed in landslide at Indonesian gold mine

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FIFAWC2014: Loew’s Germany face acid test against old rivals France

News4u-Sports Desk-Under-fire Germany face rejuvenated France in today’s World Cup quarter-final at Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Maracana stadium in a mouth-watering clash of two European powerhouses.

This represents an acid test for Germany coach Joachim Loew with his side heavily criticised for below-par performances in this edition.

A place in Tuesday’s semi-final against either Brazil or Colombia in Belo Horizonte is at stake.

“Didier Deschamps has turned France around since 2010 and we’re looking forward to another classic,” said Loew who took charge after the 2006 World Cup.

Their 4-0 hammering of Portugal in their opening group match confirmed their status amongst the world’s elite, but a series of unimpressive performances have seen Loew’s Germans receive heavy criticism.

Having been held to a 2-2 draw by Ghana, then grinding out a 1-0 win over the USA in their final group match, poor finishing saw Germany labour to a 2-1 extra-time win over Algeria in Monday’s last 16 clash.

Former captains Michael Ballack, Oliver Kahn and Lothar Matthaeus have all questioned Loew’s selections with playmaker Mesut Ozil struggling and centre-backs Jerome Boateng and Benedikt Hoewedes being played out of position as wing-backs.

“That was the worst performance for years,” Ballack reflected after the Algeria match, while Kahn was equally unimpressed: “This line-up isn’t working any more”.

Loew has a contract with the German FA (DFB) until June 2016, but a quarter-final exit will put him under pressure to resign despite steering his side to the semi-finals of the last three major tournaments.

In contrast, France have risen steadily under their coach Deschamps and are unrecognisable from their chaotic 2010 campaign in South Africa.

With Karim Benzema in top form, France are dreaming of their first World Cup title since their 1998 triumph on home soil, but their focus is solely on Germany.

“Everyone can dream, including me, but I’m a pragmatist and a realist, Friday is the only thing that counts,” said Deschamps.

While the Germans are struggling to find the right combinations for their fast-paced attacking game, Deschamps says his harmonious squad is a “pleasure” to work with and the French will “give it everything we’ve got”.

Honours are even in terms of recent meetings with France claiming a 2-1 win in Bremen in February 2012, while Germany claimed revenge by the exact same scoreline in Paris 12 months later.

The French lead the series with 11 wins to Germany’s eight in 25 previous meetings.

Both sides played down the relevance of their legendary 1982 World Cup semi-final, which Germany won 5-4 on penalties after a dramatic 3-3 extra-time draw.

The Seville game attained notoriety when Germany keeper Harald Schumacher shoulder-charged Patrick Battiston, leaving the Frenchman unconscious on the ground.

With the media quick to ask whether France can claim some World Cup revenge, both Loew and Deschamps pointed to the fact most of their respective players were not born at the time.

Germany will have centre-back Mats Hummels back after missing the Algeria win with flu, while Lukas Podolski is fit again after a thigh strain.

There is a question mark over midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger who came off with cramp, but gave the thumbs down when pointing at his knee, which blighted him with tendinitis before the World Cup.

There is a question mark over France defender Raphael Varane, who spent the night in hospital with dehydration after Monday’s 2-0 win over Nigeria in the last 16.

Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho is fit again after knee problems, while it remains to be seen who Deschamps names as striker between Olivier Giroud or Antoine Griezmann.


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Indian nurses in Iraq freed, to reach Kochi tomorrow

News4u-News Desk- A group of 46 Indian nurses held captive by Sunni militants ISIS in strife-torn Iraq have been set free and were being brought back home in a special Air India plane which left this evening for Erbil, a non-conflict zone.

The nurses are expected to reach Kochi on Saturday morning, officials said on a day of dramatic developments in efforts to end their ordeal.

“I can confirm that the Indian nurses moved out against their will are free. They are in touch with the Indian Embassy officials at Erbil,” the Spokesperson of the External Affairs Ministry told reporters in New Delhi.

Erbil in north Iraq is the capital of Kurdistan region of the Arab Gulf country.

The ordeal of the nurses, who were working at a hospital in Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit, began when a swift ISIS(Islamic State for Iraq and Syria) offensive was launched on June 9.

The nurses were moved out on Thursday against their will and were held in the militant-held city of Mosul, 250 km from Tikrit. The Erbil International airport is 70 km from Mosul.

“The nurses are safe, unharmed,” the spokesperson said, adding the special Air India flight has taken off from Delhi.

“We won’t be satisfied till we reach culmination of our efforts and bring all nationals back.” he added.

A joint-secretary level IFS officer and an IAS woman officer from Kerala are among the Indian officials travelling on the chartered flight.

At a separate press conference in Delhi, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the nurses have reached the border near the international airport at Erbil for their evacuation to India.

“The nurses will reach Kochi tomorrow morning,” Chandy said.

“The government of India, the embassy in Baghdad and the state government, all have worked together and finally we are achieving the objective to bring back the nurses to India,” he said.

In Kochi, airport sources said Air India’s special flight Boeing 777 carrying the nurses and other passengers from Erbil is expected to reach the city around 6.40 am on Saturday.

The nurses were moved in a vehicle by rebels from their hospital in Tikrit on Thursday and were lodged in an old building near a hospital in Mosul, according to family members of a nurse from Kottayam.

“My daughter called me around 10.45 last night and said the group had been accommodated in a hall in Mosul. It appears to be part of a hospital…She told me not to get panicky if she did not call home frequently as she was not sure if there would be a facility to get the phone charged,” said Sobha, whose daughter is one of the nurses.

Syed Akbaruddin

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Iraq struggles to drive back Sunni militants

News4u-News Desk-Iraqi forces on Thursday struggled to break a military stalemate with Sunni militants, as US officials reached out to key leaders to push for an end to political chaos in the strife-torn country.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has offered an amnesty aimed at undercutting support for the militants who have overrun large areas of Iraq, after the new parliament’s first session ended in farce, with MPs walking out instead of working on government formation.

With calls for politicians to come together unsuccessful, Washington contacted Iraqi and regional players individually, with President Barack Obama calling Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah and Vice President Joe Biden talking to former Iraqi parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, a prominent Sunni leader.

The White House said Biden and Nujaifi agreed on the importance of Iraqis “moving expeditiously to form a new government capable of uniting the country”.

Secretary of State John Kerry meanwhile phoned Kurdish leader Massud Barzani and stressed the important role the Kurds could play in a new unity government in Baghdad, seen as vital to meeting the challenge of Islamic State jihadists, who have led the militant offensive, spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

Maliki’s amnesty call appeared to be a bid to split the broad alliance of jihadists, loyalists of executed dictator Saddam Hussein and anti-government tribes waging the offensive.

Maliki’s announcement came a day after an eagerly awaited opening to the Council of Representatives descended into chaos and ended in disarray without a speaker being elected. Under a de facto agreement, Iraq’s premier is a Shiite Arab, the speaker Sunni Arab and the president a Kurd.

Presiding MP Mahdi Hafez said the legislature would reconvene on July 8 if leaders were able to agree on senior posts. In another sign of political discord, Maliki on Wednesday rejected an assertion by the autonomous Kurdish region that its control of disputed territory is here to stay.

On the ground, Iraqi forces were struggling to break a stalemate with militants after initially wilting before the onslaught.

They have since performed better, albeit with limited offensive success. A police lieutenant colonel said security forces on Thursday clashed with militants near Tikrit, the hometown of Saddam Hussein, which they have been unsuccessfully fighting to retake in a highly-touted operation for over a week.

The cost of the conflict has been high for Iraq’s forces, with nearly 900 security personnel among 2,400 people killed in June, the highest figure in years, according to the UN.

Iraq PM Maliki

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Child abuse could lead to permanent brain damage

News4u-Features Desk-London: Child abuse can reduce the volume of grey matter in the brain that is responsible for processing information, a new study has found.

The study, by experts at London’s King’s College and the FIDMAG Sisters Hospitallers Foundation for Research and Teaching in Spain, analysed the association between childhood maltreatment and the volume of cerebral grey matter.

“Childhood maltreatment acts as a severe stressor that produces a cascade of physiological and neurobiological changes that lead to enduring alterations in the brain structure,” said Joaquim Radua, a researcher at FIDMAG.

In order to understand the most robust abnormalities in grey matter volumes, the research team, which included the National University of Singapore, carried out a meta-analysis of the voxel based morphometric study on childhood maltreatment.

VBM is a neuroimaging analysis technique that allows investigation of focal differences in brain anatomy comparing magnetic brain resonance of two groups of people.

The study included twelve different groups of data made up of a total of 331 individuals (56 children or adolescents and 275 adults) with a history of childhood maltreatment, plus 362 individuals who were not exposed to maltreatment (56 children or adolescents and 306 adults).

In order to examine the cerebral regions with more or less grey matter volumes in maltreated individuals, a three-dimensional meta-analytical neuroimaging method was used called ‘signed differential mapping’ (SDM), developed by Radua.

Relative to comparison subjects, individuals exposed to childhood maltreatment exhibited significantly smaller grey matter volumes: in the right orbitofrontal/superior temporal gyrus extending to the amygdala, insula, and parahippocampal and middle temporal gyri and in the left inferior frontal and postcentral gyri.

“Deficits in the right orbitofrontal-temporal-limbic and left inferior frontal regions remained in a subgroup analysis of unmedicated participants, indicating that these abnormalities were not related to medication but to maltreatment,” said Radua.

The abnormalities in the left postcentral gyrus were found only in older maltreated individuals.

These findings show that the most consistent grey matter abnormalities in individuals exposed to childhood maltreatment are located in ventrolateral prefrontal and limbic-temporal regions.

These regions have relatively late development, i.e. after the maltreatment and the malfunction could explain the affective and cognitive deficit of people with a history of child abuse, researchers said.

The study was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry. PTI

Child abuse could lead to permanent brain damage

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No automatic arrest under anti-dowry law : SC

News4u-News Desk-Expressing concern over the misuse of the anti-dowry law by “disgruntled” wives against their husbands and in-laws, the Supreme Court has ruled that the police cannot “automatically” arrest the accused in such cases and it must give reasons for taking such steps.

The apex court said the attitude to arrest first and then proceed with the rest is “despicable” and it must be curbed.

It directed all state governments to ensure that police do not resort to arresting in all offences punishable up to seven-year jail term including dowry harassment cases.

“We direct all the state governments to instruct its police officers not to automatically arrest when a case under Section 498-A of the IPC (dowry harassment) is registered but to satisfy themselves about the necessity for arrest under the parameters laid down flowing from Section 41 CrPC,” a bench headed by Justice C K Prasad said.

It added that the police officer shall furnish the reasons and materials which necessitated the arrest before the magistrate.

It said that a person accused of offence punishable with imprisonment for a term which may be less than seven years or which may extend to seven years with or without fine, cannot be arrested by the police officer only on its satisfaction that such person had committed the offence.

The top court added that before arrest in such cases, the police officer has to be further satisfied that such an arrest is necessary to prevent a person from committing any further offence or for proper investigation of the case or to prevent the accused from causing the evidence of the offence to disappear.

“Law further requires the police officers to record the reasons in writing for not making the arrest. In pith and core, the police office before arrest must put a question to himself, why arrest? Is it really required? What purpose it will serve? What object it will achieve?

“It is only after these questions are addressed and one or the other conditions as enumerated above is satisfied, the power of arrest needs to be exercised. In fine, before arrest first the police officers should have reason to believe on the basis of information and material that the accused has committed the offence,” the bench added.

“Section 498-A of the IPC was introduced with avowed object to combat the menace of harassment to a woman at the hands of her husband and his relatives. The fact that Section 498-A is a cognisable and non-bailable offence has lent it a dubious place of pride amongst the provisions that are used as weapons rather than shield by disgruntled wives.

“The simplest way to harass is to get the husband and his relatives arrested under this provision. In quite a number of cases, bed-ridden grandfathers and grandmothers of the husbands, their sisters living abroad for decades are arrested,” the bench informed.

The bench also said that the arrest curtails freedom, brings humiliation and casts scars forever and no arrest should be made only because the offence is non-bailable and cognisable.

“The existence of the power to arrest is one thing, the justification for the exercise of it is quite another. Apart from power to arrest, the police officers must be able to justify the reasons thereof.

“No arrest can be made in a routine manner on a mere allegation of commission of an offence made against a person. It would be prudent and wise for a police officer that no arrest is made without a reasonable satisfaction reached after some investigation as to the genuineness of the allegation,” the bench said.

Referring to crime statistics, the apex court said 1,97,762 persons were arrested in 2012 for offence under Section 498-A and nearly a quarter of those arrested under this provision were women depicting that mothers and sisters of the husbands were liberally included in their arrest net.

“Its share is 6 percent out of the total persons arrested under the crimes committed under Indian Penal Code. It accounts for 4.5 percent of total crimes committed under different sections of penal code, more than any other crimes except theft and hurt,” it said.

It said the rate of charge-sheeting in cases is as high as 93.6 percent, while the conviction rate is only 15 percent, which is lowest across all heads and as many as 3,72,706 cases are pending at trial stage.

“It has not come out of its colonial image despite six decades of Independence, it is largely considered as a tool of harassment, oppression and surely not considered a friend of public. The need for caution in exercising the drastic power of arrest has been emphasised time and again by courts but has not yielded desired result.

“Power to arrest greatly contributes to its arrogance so also the failure of the magistracy to check it. Not only this, the power of arrest is one of the lucrative sources of police corruption. The attitude to arrest first and then proceed with the rest is despicable. It has become a handy tool to the police officers who lack sensitivity or act with oblique motive,” the top court said.

The apex court said that failure of police officials will be liable for department proceedings and amount to contempt of court for not complying with its direction.

It said, “Authorising detention without recording reasons as aforesaid by the judicial magistrate concerned shall be liable for departmental action by the appropriate High Court.”

Supreme Court of India

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Poverty definition immaterial for financial services: Rajan

News4u-Business Desk-As the debate over the definition of poverty continues, Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan on Wednesday said descriptions don’t matter when it comes to financial services, which are unavailable for a large number of people.

“It doesn’t matter that we have a precise definition. There’s so much demand for financial services in the country that we don’t need to delineate ‘you get it, you don’t’. Everybody needs it,” Rajan told reporters in Mumbai on Wednesday.

The Governor spoke after meeting Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, who is the UN Secretary General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development, at the RBI headquarters in Mumbai.

“Just creating an environment in which it can expand is enough. We have to work on creating that environment. But we don’t need to choose between people. Whoever can benefit, they should get it,” Rajan added.

Queen Maxima appreciated the approaches adopted in the country to achieve financial inclusion goals and specifically mentioned the use of prepaid cards.

“I am happy to see the good work being done in the direction of financial literacy to achieve the inclusion goals,” Maxima said.

She called for more innovative efforts at making financial products available to low-income households. Innovation is also needed on the delivery channel side, she said.

Some estimates pegging the percentage of the population untouched by financial services at nearly 50 percent have prompted the government and the RBI to start affirmative action through financial inclusion programmes.

Former RBI governor and ex-chairman of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council C Rangarajan on Tuesday submitted a report on the Suresh Tendulkar Committee’s methodology of estimating poverty to the Planning Commission.

The report is expected to clear the ambiguity over the number of poor in the country.

The Planning Commission’s estimates had drawn flak in September 2011 when, in an affidavit in the Supreme Court, it stated that households with a daily per capita consumption of over Rs 32 in urban areas and Rs 26 in rural areas would not be treated as poor.

According to the Commission’s estimates based on Tendulkar’s methodology released in July 2012, the poverty ratio declined to 21.9 percent in 2011-12 from 37.2 percent in 2004-05 on account of an increase in per capita consumption.

The national poverty line, using Tendulkar’s methodology, was estimated at Rs 816 per capita per month in villages and Rs 1,000 per capita per month in cities.

Raghuram Rajan

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