Chuck Hagel’s India visit aimed at nurturing defense ties: Pentagon

News4u-News Desk- WASHINGTON: US defense secretary Chuck Hagel will visit New Delhi next week during which he will hold talks with his counterpart Arun Jaitley and other top officials, aimed at “nurturing” ties with India after the formation of the new government, a top Pentagon official has said.

“The purpose of this trip is to nurture the relationship and not to ink any deal,” Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby told PTI.

According to Kirby, defense secretary Hagel attaches a very high priority to the India-US defense ties.

During his three-day stay in New Delhi beginning August 7, Hagel will hold talks with Jaitley and is also expected to meet National Security Advisor Ajit K Doval and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj.

He is likely to call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Hagel’s meetings will focus on the converging interests of India and the US in the Asia Pacific, their common interests in Afghanistan and initiatives to strengthen bilateral defense cooperation, including military exercises, defense, trade, co-production and co-development, and research and new technologies, Kirby said.

Insisting that Hagel’s visit is about “nurturing relationship” and not about “military sales”, Kirby said that election of a new government offers an opportunity to fulfill potential of India-US strategic partnership.

“We are committed to a long-term strategic partnership with India. We view India as a regional and emerging global power as well as provider of security and strategic partner,” he said.

“We understand the importance of strategic relationship with India and we want to make sure that this relationship stays close and that we are able to create the conditions where our co-operation is normal,” he added.

Kirby, who would accompany Hagel, said the defence secretary very much respects the role that India plays.

“He (Hagel) recognizes that India is global player, is a strong nation and that she is becoming stronger and more influential and he respects it. This is a relationship that matters deeply to him,” the Pentagon Press Secretary said.

In his meeting with Jaitley, Hagel would talk about the Defense Trade and Technology Initiative, which was started during the previous UPA regime, and is considered to be path breaking in terms of defense ties between the two countries.

“US and India have converging strategic interest in the Asia Pacific region and that is demonstrated by our rebalance and by India’s Look East Policy. We also have common interest in Afghanistan,” Kirby said.


Chuck Hagel’s India visit aimed at nurturing defense ties: Pentagon

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Imam of China’s biggest mosque killed in Xinjiang

News4u-News Desk- BEIJING: The head of a China’s largest mosque was murdered after conducting morning prayers, the local government in the far western region of Xinjiang said Thursday, amid intensifying violence in the turbulent region.

Jume Tahir, the government-appointed imam of the 600-year-old Id Kah mosque in the city of Kashgar, was killed on Wednesday by “three thugs influenced by religious extremist ideology”, the Xinjiang government web portal Tianshan said.

Police launched an all-out investigation and shot dead two of the alleged assailants while capturing the other at about noon on Wednesday as they violently resisted with “knives and hatchets,” Tianshan said.

Tianshan said Tahir’s killing was “premeditated” and that the suspects intended to commit a “ruthless murder”.

It also said they wanted to “increase their influence through ‘doing something big’”.

Tianshan identified the suspects by their names in phonetic Chinese. The official Xinhua news agency in an English-language report gave their names as Turghun Tursun, Memetjan Remutillan and Nurmemet Abidilimit.

Neither Tianshan nor Xinhua initially identified who among them was shot dead and who was apprehended.

Tahir was found dead in a pool of blood outside the mosque’s prayer house, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported earlier on its website.

Xinjiang, home to China’s mostly Muslim Uighur ethnic minority, has seen escalating violence which in the past year has spilled over into other parts of China.

RFA cited what it described as “witnesses and other officials”, including the director of a neighbourhood stability committee in Kashgar, who described the killing as an assassination.

Imams and other religious leaders in China are appointed by the government and subject to strict control on the content of their preaching.

US-based RFA said that Tahir had been critical of violence carried out by Uighurs, and China’s official Xinhua news agency in early July quoted him as condemning terrorist violence carried out in the name of ethnicity and religion.

Tahir, 74, “enjoyed a high reputation among Muslims nationwide”, Xinhua said in its dispatch on Thursday.

Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the exiled World Uyghur Congress (WUC), did not condemn the killing.

“Chinese policies in the area have caused things to happen which should not happen,” he told AFP in an email.

“According to local Uighurs, Jume Tahir consistently co-operated with the government, aided the monitoring of religious activities, and used his position in the mosque to promote Chinese policies which are unacceptable to Uighurs,” he said.

“Local Uighurs suspected he had a special relationship with the Chinese ministry of security.”

The Id Kah mosque is said to have a capacity of up to 20,000 people. Kashgar, where the mosque is located, is an old oasis city that was part of the Silk Road trade route that ran from Europe to Asia.

The killing of Tahir came two days after dozens of people died in violence between Uighurs and security authorities in the Kashgar region.

Nearly 100 people were left dead or wounded, the WUC said, while authorities put the toll in the “several tens” in what they called a “terror attack” on a police station and township in Shache county, known as Yarkand in the Uighur language.

Beijing commonly blames separatists from Xinjiang for carrying out terror attacks which have grown in scale over the past year and spread outside the restive and resource-rich region.

A market attack in Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital city, in May left 39 people dead, while a deadly rampage by knife-wielding assailants at a train station in Kunming in China’s southwest in March killed 29 people.

They came after a fiery vehicle crash at Tiananmen Square, Beijing’s symbolic heart, in October last year.

The violence has led China to carry out a broad crackdown on terrorism. President Xi Jinping on a visit to Xinjiang in late April called for a “strike first” strategy to fight terrorism and said the Kashgar area is China’s “front line in anti-terrorist efforts”.

Chinese prosecutors on Wednesday brought charges of separatism — which can carry the death penalty — against prominent Uighur academic Ilham Tohti, detained earlier this year.

Rights groups and analysts accuse China’s government of cultural and religious repression which they say fuels unrest in Xinjiang, which borders Central Asia.

The government, however, argues it has boosted economic development in the area and that it upholds minority rights in a country with 56 recognised ethnic groups. AFP


Imam of China’s biggest mosque killed in Xinjiang

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Arizona inmate uses basketball hoop to leap to freedom

News4u-News Desk- PHOENIX: A physically fit felon escaped from a detention facility in Arizona by scaling a basketball hoop in the yard and then jumping from it onto a fence, authorities said on Monday.

Wade Cole Dickinson, 28, remains at large more than two weeks after fleeing from the Yavapai county detention facility, a report by the local sheriff’s office said.

Investigators say he climbed the 10-foot-tall hoop and used it as platform to leap to the fence. From there he pulled apart a seam in the fencing, it said, reached the center’s roof and then scaled another fence separating him from freedom.

Dickinson, who listed his occupation as a personal trainer, was awaiting transfer to prison after being sentenced to 24 years on charges including fraud, trafficking in stolen property, drug possession and illegal possession of a firearm.

The report by the sheriff’s office found that officials at the detention center knew he was an escape risk, but that no one was watching him in the yard when he made his July 12 getaway.

A video camera monitoring the area had been broken, apparently with a basketball, prior to the escape, it said. Reuters


Arizona inmate uses basketball hoop to leap to freedom

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German teen floods club toilet in futile hunt for lost mobile phone

News4u-News Desk- BERLIN: A German teen who lost his mobile phone in a pond tried to get it back by draining the water and pumping it into a nearby toilet but caused major damage when the water flooded the tank and sent the waste spewing, a local newspaper reported.

“I thought two pumps would drain enough of the water from the pond so I could find my cell phone,” the 16-year-old German from Klein Hesepe told Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung newspaper. “I knew the phone was probably dead but wanted to get the data card back with the numbers, pictures and videos of my friends.”

The pond contained 1.8 million liters of water and the local toilet had a 1,000-litre tank. The teenager wrongly thought the toilet was connected to the sewage system. The water overwhelmed the tank and sent sewage flooding out across a fishing club.

“It almost worked,” the teenager told the newspaper.Reuters


Mobile Phone

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Obama says after 9/11, US ‘tortured some folks’

News4u-News Desk- WASHINGTON: The United States tortured al-Qaida detainees captured after the 9/11 attacks, President Obama said Friday, in some of his most expansive comments to date about a controversial set of CIA practices that he banned after taking office.

“We tortured some folks,” Obama said at a televised news conference at the White House. “We did some things that were contrary to our values.”

Addressing the impending release of a Senate report that criticizes CIA treatment of detainees, Obama said he believed the mistreatment stemmed from the pressure national security officials felt to forestall another attack. He said Americans should not be too “sanctimonious,” about passing judgment through the lens of a seemingly safer present day.

That view, which he expressed as a candidate for national office in 2008 and early in his presidency, explains why Obama did not push to pursue criminal charges against the Bush era officials who carried out the CIA program. To this day, many of those officials insist that what they did was not torture, which is a felony under US law.

The president’s comments are a blow to those former officials, as well as an estimated 200 people currently working at the CIA who played some role in the interrogation program.

In 2009, Obama said he preferred to “look forward, not backwards,” on the issue, and he decided that no CIA officer who was following legal guidance-however flawed that guidance turned out to be -should be prosecuted. A long-running criminal investigation into whether the CIA exceeded the guidance-which is an allegation of the Senate report-was closed in 2012 without charges.

Still, Obama’s remarks on Friday were more emphatic than his previous comments on the subject, including a May 2009 speech in which he trumpeted his ban of “so-called enhanced interrogation techniques,” and “brutal methods,” but did not flatly say the US had engaged in torture.

At an April 2009 new conference, he said, “I believe that waterboarding was torture and, whatever legal rationales were used, it was a mistake.”

In addition to water boarding, the CIA used stress positions, sleep deprivation, nudity, humiliation, cold and other tactics that, taken together, were extremely brutal, the Senate report is expected to say. Obama on Friday did not mention a specific method, but he said the CIA used techniques that “any fair minded person would believe were torture.”

“We crossed a line,” he said. “That needs to be understood and accepted…We did some things that were wrong, and thats what that report reflects.”

Obama on Friday did not address two other central arguments of the soon-to-be-released Senate report - that the brutal interrogations didn’t produce life-saving intelligence, and that the CIA lied to other elements of the US government about exactly what it was doing.

The president also expressed confidence in his CIA director, John Brennan, in the wake of an internal CIA report documenting that the spy agency improperly accessed Senate computers. There have been calls for his resignation on Capitol Hill.

Obama said the internal report made clear that “some very poor judgment was shown,” but he seemed to say it wasn’t Brennan’s fault, and he praised his director for ordering the inquiry in the first place.AP


Obama

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It’s pretty clear that Apple is winning the war with Samsung

News4u-Business Desk- If there’s one thing that’s clear today, it’s that Apple has been completely right in its smartphone strategy so far.

While there were many people (including people who work for Business Insider) shrieking that Apple was going to get knocked flat by Samsung and Android, it’s looking increasingly like that’s not going to happen.

Samsung delivered a rough earnings report this quarter. For the third straight quarter it posted a drop in operating income. This time, operating profit dropped 25% on a year-over-year business. It was dragged down by the mobile business which actually saw profits drop 30% on a year-over-year basis.

During the same period, Apple’s operating income was up 12%. Apple doesn’t break out its iPhone line in terms of operating profit, but iPhone sales were up 9%.

It gets worse for Samsung. Its market share slid to 25.2% of the smartphone market for Q2, down from 32.5% last year in the second quarter. Apple’s market share slid as well, but by a smaller amount, going to 11.9%, down from 13.4%. Reuters reports, “Samsung was the only major manufacturer to report a drop in absolute number of shipments” during the quarter.

So, what’s eating Samsung? It’s fighting, and losing, two battles.

At the high end it’s competing with Apple. Apple isn’t going anywhere. It remains strong thanks to a sterling brand, high-quality phones, and iOS, the best mobile operating system in the world.

At the low-end of the market it’s competing with upstarts like Chinese phone maker Xiaomi, and an army of Android phone makers that use Android. There’s little reason for a consumer to pay a premium for Samsung phones instead of a Samsung clone.

This is all instructive when thinking about Apple and what it should do in the future. While there are people pushing Apple to lower prices on the iPhone, it seems like Apple is doing the exact right thing by keeping its phones priced at a premium. It has expensive, new high-end phones that generate healthy sales and profits. They also establish Apple as a premium phone maker.

Apple isn’t ignoring the low-end of the market, though. It sells older iPhones at lower prices. Those phones are doing very well and it’s reflected in the company’s earnings.

The danger for Apple is that it whiffs on the next wave of mobile users who are coming from emerging markets. But in the last two earnings calls Apple has made it clear that it’s doing well in those places despite selling relatively expensive phones.

Sales in the Greater China region were up 28% on a year-over-year basis last quarter. On the earnings call, CEO Tim Cook said sales in Brazil, Russia, India, and China (the BRIC countries) were up 55% on a year-over-year basis.

On Apple’s March quarter earnings call, Cook said, through the first half of fiscal 2014, iPhone sales in Brazil were up 61%, in Russia up 97%, in Turkey up 56%, in India up 55%, and in Vietnam they were up 262%. Cook pointed out that these are not “historic strongholds” for Apple.

Looking at those numbers, and comparing them to where Samsung is at, it’s hard to argue that Apple is making a mistake with the iPhone business.

Apple was right to ignore the pundits calling for a lower cost phone last year. And if it ignores them again this year, it will probably be the right call once again.

Bottom line: Apple knows what it’s doing.Bloomberg


Apple

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WTO deal not dead, can sign in September if concerns addressed: India

News4u-News Desk- NEW DELHI/GENEVA: India is willing to sign a global trade deal, which it has torpedoed, if other World Trade Organization members can agree to its parallel demand for concessions on stockpiling food, senior officials in New Delhi said on Friday.

The deadline to sign the WTO pact to ease worldwide customs rules lapsed at midnight in Geneva on Thursday after India demanded that the group also finalise an agreement giving it more freedom to subsidise and stockpile food grains than is allowed by WTO rules.

It was not immediately clear if the latest comments by Indian officials would open a window for the deal to be resurrected.

In Geneva, a trade diplomat from a developing nation said: “The trust that countries have in what India says is going to be significantly diminished.”

The officials in New Delhi said the deal could be signed as early as September.

“It is ridiculous to say the Bali deal is dead,” said a senior official at the trade ministry, referring to the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) pact that was agreed on the Indonesian island of Bali last year.

“We are totally committed to the TFA, and only asking for an agreement on food security,” said the official, who cannot be identified under briefing rules.

Another trade official said: “We expect that the (WTO) director general will call a meeting in September and we are ready to sign the deal in September itself, provided TFA and food security issues are passed together. We are quite hopeful for the deal.”PTI


PM Modi & John Kerry

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Indian-origin student jailed for gold bars theft in Singapore

News4u-News Desk- SINGAPORE: A 22-year-old Indian-origin student has been jailed for four months in Singapore for stealing four gold bars worth 14,775 dollars from a shop here.

Sivasakthi Kumanaran Nagarajan, who faced a jail term of seven years and a fine, pleaded guilty on Friday to the theft on July 4, The Straits Times reported on Saturday.

Nagarajan and two of his compatriots identified the shop in a suburb housing estate to steal the gold bars last month.

One of his compatriots, 19-year-old Vairavan Venkatesh, had allegedly posed as a customer and ran off with the gold bars after pretending to inspect them.

Venkatesh, a full time National Serviceman, told a sales assistant in the shop that his father owned a goldsmith shop back home in India.

Foreman Sastha Pillay, the third partner in the crime, sold the loot and shared the money with his two friends.

Cases against Sastha, 29, and Venkatesh are pending.PTI


Indian-origin student jailed

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Govt for cleaner energy through well defined roadmap: Javadekar

News4u-News Desk- Terming innovation as key to lasting and sustainable way of development, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said that focus on cleaner energy through a well defined roadmap was the new mantra of the government.

He, however, rued that the country lacks in innovation and said that the system does not allow innovative brains to flourish despite having talent.

The environment minister said that the new dispensation has done many things to give real impetus to the solar, wind and clean energy sector in this year’s budget.

“The lasting and sustainable way of development comes through innovation. The mantra for the new government is focused on cleaner energy through a well defined roadmap,” he said.

“Unfortunately we lack in innovation…Our education, our system does not allow innovation or innovative brains to flourish. Yes we have great talents,” he said after conferring the Climate Solver Awards 2013 organised by WWF-India and Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW).

Laying stress on innovation, the minister mentioned a recent news about “Indians brains” constituting one-third of organisations like NASA and said that they got the finishing touch to their career in US as they “devised and decided” to grow on innovation. “The material cost may not be more than Rs 2000. But that becomes Rs 20,000 and the additional 18,000 becomes innovation. That’s how you get rich. Thats the sustainable way. Science, Technology and Innovation changed our lives permanently,” he said.

Laying emphasis on innovation which “impacted the society in geometric proportions”, Javadekar also quoted example of solar panels over canals in Gujarat and said that it was the innovative use of solar energy that gave three pronged benefits to the society. “These included enhancement of energy efficiency, saving land resources and minimising evaporation of water due to placing of solar panels on the banks of irrigation canals in Gujarat,” he said.

Javadekar also touched upon several key climate friendly initiatives that had been introduced in the Union Budget this year including increase in cess on coal from Rs 50 per ton to Rs 100 per ton, raising more revenue for clean energy and others. The minister also released a report on “Solar Air Conditioning and Solar Desalination in India”.

Appreciating the comprehensive study done on renewable energy, the minister said the initiative encouraged the use of similar technologies by local communities which would solve the problem of energy, water and environment in an integrated manner.

“On climate change, some people are so pessimistic. I am an optimist. We will bring out ways for things which will benefit the world,” he said.

“We recently passed in Rajya Sabha the Finance bill. In that, more than the budget announcement, there are many changes brought in to accommodate all the demands of the solar and wind industry. These are things we have already addressed and this is how things are moving,” Javadekar said.

Later talking to reporters, the Minister said that the Narendra Modi government is very conscious and has a positive programme for cleaner energy.

“Climate change is real and we must take necessary measures — adaptation, technology development, mitigation. We want to purify and make improvement in air water quality and solid waste management. But the solar and wind energy will give us clean energy and low carbon footprints,” he said.

On a question, he said that the Prime Minister has himself very interested on the subject and has written a book on climate change. “He (PM) is very concerned on all these development and issues,” he said.

The Climate Solver winners were awarded under two categories Energy Access and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Reduction- and five small and medium enterprises were awarded during the event.

Elaborating on the report released today, officials said that it focuses on two innovative renewable energy applications - solar air conditioning and solar desalination.

“Technologies such as solar air conditioning and solar desalination hold promise of becoming harbingers of change, equity and prosperity for 45 per cent of India’s rural households which still struggle with electricity supply.

“It is absolutely critical to build a better understanding of the technological, financial, institutional and regulatory challenges hindering rapid large scale deployment of these solutions in the country,” said Arunabha Ghosh, CEO, CEEW.


Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar

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Developed nations should understand challenges of developing countries: PM

News4u-News Desk- Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said developed countries should understand the challenges of poverty in developing nations and their governments’ responsibilities to address them.

Modi conveyed the message to US Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker when they called on him in New Delhi on Friday.

“Prime Minister emphasized the need for developed countries to understand the challenges of poverty in developing countries and their governments’ responsibilities in addressing them when discussions take place in international forums,” a PMO statement said on Friday.

The meeting took place against the backdrop of India taking a tough stance on the issue of foodgrain holding and food subsidy at the WTO talks in Geneva on Thursday night after which the US blamed it for failure of the negotiations.

Asked about this, External Affairs Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said the Prime Minister articulated India’s requirement of ensuring that food security is provided for a significant number of people because of the circumstances in which the country is.

“I think the PM is on record to have said that development challenges that developing countries face are something that should be understood by all.

“India, as a developing country, has challenges and responsibility to ensure food supplies to all its people and that is reflected in our stance. That stance takes into account our needs. If other countries have a different stance, we understand their perspectives because they come from a different direction,” he said.

The spokesman added “our direction is determined by our current circumstances which require us to provide food security for a significant number of people and that is what the PM has said.”

Narendra Modi

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