WHO: Ebola outbreak is a public health emergency

News4u-News Desk- The World Health Organisation declared the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to be an international public health emergency that requires an extraordinary response to stop its spread.

It is the largest and longest outbreak ever recorded of Ebola, which has a death rate of about 50 per cent and has so far killed at least 932 people. WHO declared similar emergencies for the swine flu pandemic in 2009 and for polio in May.

The WHO chief, Dr Margaret Chan, said the announcement is “a clear call for international solidarity” although she acknowledged that many countries would probably not have any Ebola cases.

“Countries affected to date simply do not have the capacity to manage an outbreak of this size and complexity on their own,” Chan said at a news conference in Geneva. “I urge the international community to provide this support on the most urgent basis possible.”

The agency had convened an expert committee this week to assess the severity of the continuing epidemic. The current outbreak of Ebola began in Guinea in March and has since spread to Sierra Leone and Liberia, with a suspected cluster in Nigeria.

There is no licensed treatment or vaccine for Ebola. The impact of the WHO declaration is unclear; the declaration about polio doesn’t yet seem to have slowed the spread of virus.

“Statements won’t save lives,” said Dr Bart Janssens, director of operations for Doctors Without Borders. For weeks, (we) have been repeating that a massive medical, epidemiological and public health response is desperately needed. … Lives are being lost because the response is too slow.”

In the United States, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention have already elevated their Ebola response to the highest level and have recommended against travelling to West Africa.

Thursday, CDC director Dr Tom Frieden told a Congressional hearing that the current outbreak is set to sicken more people than all previous outbreaks of the disease combined.

“I don’t know what the advantage is of declaring an international emergency,” said Dr. David Heymann, who directed WHO’s response to the SARS outbreak and is now a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

“This could bring in more foreign aid but we don’t know that yet,” he said. Other experts hoped the declaration would send more health workers to West Africa.

“The situation is very critical and different from what we’ve seen before,” said Dr. Heinz Feldmann, chief of virology at the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. “There are so many locations with transmission popping up and we just need more people on the ground.”

WHO did not recommend any travel or trade bans but said people who had close contact with Ebola patients should not travel internationally.

For countries with Ebola, WHO issued various recommendations, including exit screening at international airports and border crossings to spot potential cases. It also discouraged mass gatherings..


Ebola

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Phoolan Devi murder: Court convicts Rana, acquits 10 others

News4u-News Desk- A Delhi court convicted key accused Sher Singh Rana in the 13-year-old sensational murder of bandit-turned-politician Phoolan Devi, who was then a Lok Sabha member, in front of her Ashoka Road residence in New Delhi.

Additional Sessions Judge Bharat Parashar, however, acquitted 10 other accused in the case due to lack of evidence against them.

“Except Sher Singh Rana, I am acquitting all the accused. Sher Singh Rana is convicted for the offences under Sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder) and 34 (common intention) under the IPC,” the judge said and fixed the matter for August 12 for arguments and pronouncement of quantum of sentence.

As soon as the judge pronounced the judgement, 38-year-old Rana said, “Why have you convicted only me. Others were also there.” The judge, however, said that he can file an appeal before the high court challenging the order.

“I have passed the judgement, you can file an appeal in the high court,” the judge said.

The court acquitted Dhan Prakash, Shekhar Singh, Rajbir Singh, Vijay Singh alias Raju (Rana’s brother), Rajender Singh alias Ravinder Singh, Keshav Chauhan, Praveen Mittal, Amit Rathi, Surender Singh Negi alias Suri and Sharavan Kumar.

The proceedings against accused Pradeep Singh were abated after he died in Tihar Jail in November 2013.

Rana, Shekhar Singh, Rajbir Singh and Sharavan Kumar were produced in the court from judicial custody while other accused were on bail.

37-year-old Phoolan was shot dead from close range by three masked gunmen in the heart of the capital’s VIP area as she returned home for lunch after attending Lok Sabha on July 25, 2001.

Delhi Police had chargesheeted 11 men accusing them of eliminating Phoolan to avenge the 1981 Behmai massacre in which she had allegedly killed a number of Thakurs.

The charge sheet had named Rana, Dhan Prakash, Shekhar Singh, Rajbir Singh, Vijay Singh, Rajender Singh, Keshav Chauhan, Praveen Mittal, Amit Rathi, Surender Singh Negi and Pradeep Singh as accused.


Phoolan Devi murder: Court convicts Rana, acquits 10 others

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Modi gets clean chit from Guj Police in poll code violation case

News4u-News Desk- Giving a clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Gujarat police filed a closure report in a metropolitan court in a case of alleged violation of model code of conduct during the Lok Sabha election.

“We have filed a closure summary report before the metropolitan court number 11 here today,” a senior officer of the Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) said. The closure summary maintaining that no case was made out against Modi was filed in the court of Metropolitan Magistrate MH Patel.

To a question whether Modi has been given a clean chit in the case that was filed on the instructions of the Election Commission, he replied in the affirmative.

An FIR was registered against Modi, who was then the Gujarat Chief Minister, following a directive from the poll panel for allegedly violating provisions of the Representation of People Act on April 30 this year.

Modi had triggered a controversy when he addressed a press conference immediately after casting his vote at a school in Ranip area of Ahmedabad, part of party veteran LK Advani’s Gandhinagar seat, where he prominently displayed the BJP’s election symbol lotus.

Accusing him of violating the election law, the Congress party had filed a complaint with the EC. The poll panel’s order directing lodging of a complaint/FIR said Modi had violated the provisions of Sections 126 (1)(a) and 126 (l)(b) of Representation of People Act, 1951.

The maximum punishment under these provisions of RPA is up to two years imprisonment. The EC order had said, “The commission is of the view that by holding that meeting and also by addressing the same today when the polling is going on in the entire state of Gujarat and in different parts of the country, Narendra Modi has violated the provisions of Sections 126 (1)(a) and 126 (l)(b) of RP Act 1951. Therefore, the commission directs … that complaint/ FIR as the case may be, should be filed against Narendra Modi and all others who were involved in the convening and holding of the said meeting,” the EC order had said.

Section 126 (1) (a) of RP Act prohibits holding of public meetings during period of 48 hours ending with the hour fixed for conclusion of poll.

Modi is also facing a separate case in connection with the incident wherein an Aam Aadmi Party worker has said that the police had filed an incomplete FIR in the case.

Nishant Verma, in his complaint to the Ahmedabad (rural) court, has demanded that Modi be additionally charged under sections section 130 of RPA and IPC sections 114, 171 (c) and (f).


Modi

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Pakistan hands over captured BSF jawan

News4u-News Desk- Pakistan on Friday handed over to India a BSF jawan who was captured by Pakistan Rangers after he was swept away into their territory by strong currents of Chenab river.

The 30-year-old trooper Satyasheel Yadav was handed over to Border Security Force (BSF) officials by the commanders of the Pakistan Rangers at the zero line at Octroi border post along the International Border (IB) in R S Pura sector of Jammu district.

He is in good health, a senior BSF officer said, adding that he has been taken for debriefing.

“Yadav was handed over to us at 4.18 PM near border pillar 918 along the International Border in Jammu and Kashmir.

The trooper is well and he is being taken to our nearby border post where the BSF DG and other force commanders would meet him,” he said.

Yadav, who was dressed in his dark green combat fatigue, walked into the Indian soil flanked by his seniors.

BSF chief D K Pathak had flown in from Delhi especially for the handover event.

Earlier, Yadav told reporters in Pakistan that his boat accidentally strayed into the neighbouring land after it went out of control in strong river currents.

“My colleagues swam out but I do not know swimming. The boat took me into Pakistani territory. I jumped into water near a Pakistan post and was rescued by jawans of Pakistan Rangers,” he said in his narration of the events leading to his capture.

Yadav, flanked by Rangers’ officials, said he was made “comfortable” by them.

“They took my introduction. They helped me to the extent they could. They kept me better than what I had thought. I have no complaints. I am happy,” he said.

Yadav was out on a patrol on Wednesday with three other personnel in the Paragwal-Khour sub-sector of general area Akhnoor when the boat they were travelling in developed a problem.

BSF officials had said that when the patrol squad was negotiating a narrow bend in the river in this sector, the engine of the motorboat failed.

A rescue boat later sent to fetch the BSF men was taken by three personnel but Yadav got drifted in the strong current as the rope holding him snapped and he subsequently landed 400 metres away in the Sialkot sector of Pakistan where he was picked up by the villagers initially and then handed over to the Rangers, they said.

Yadav is a resident of village Ranipura in Firozabad district of Uttar Pradesh and has three children.

He joined the country’s largest border guarding force in 2005.


Pakistan hands over captured BSF jawan

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BASIC countries ask developed nations to ‘walk the talk’

News4u-News Desk-Environment Ministers of BASIC countries including India and China said developed countries should “walk the talk” in addressing climate change in keeping with their historic responsibilities. “…we expect that developed world should walk the talk,” Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said at the end of the 18th ministerial meeting on climate change here, reiterating a position held by the BASIC countries.

“What we found out is that even on the mitigation front, actions of the BASIC countries of South Africa, Brazil, China and ours, are more concrete than the developed world. I will suggest that we will make a compendium of what we have done and put up before the forthcoming UN Climate Summit meeting in September,” he told reporters.

Vice Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission of China, Xie Zhenhua said 60 per cent of the cut in emission is contributed by the developing countries. He said discussions between US and China at the bilateral level is shared with the BASIC countries, allying apprehensions that bilateral meetings were diluting multilateral discussions on climate change.

In a joint statement, the Ministers’ urged developed countries to implement their commitments towards developing countries for provision of finance, technology and capacity-building support.

They emphasised that the developed countries should take the lead in addressing climate change in accordance with their historical responsibilities, the latest available scientific evidence on climate change trends.

Earlier, speaking at the meeting, Javadekar had also sought enhanced action by developing countries.

The 18th Basic Meeting here preceded the crucial UN Climate summit meeting in September called by UN Secretary General and the crucial session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris next year.

To a question on what the Ministers were expecting from the UN summit, South African Minister for Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa said they need a “political momentum and a will” to combat climate change and for developed countries to lead in the endeavour.

The Environment Ministers in the joint statement stressed that the 2015 outcome to be adopted in Paris should be comprehensive, balanced, equitable and fair in order to enhance the full, effective and sustained implementation of the UN Convention.

It reaffirmed that the process and outcome of the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) must be in full accordance with all the principles, provisions and structure of the Convention, “in particular the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities”.

Concurring the need for all parties to communicate their intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) on emission reduction as early as possible, the statement underlined that INDCs of developing countries will be in the context of their social and development needs and premised on the extent of financial, technological and capacity-building support provided by developed countries.

The Ministers affirmed that the INDCs would include all pillars of the Durban Platform-mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology development and transfer and capacity-building.

They reiterating that the Kyoto Protocol remains the essential and legally binding basis for addressing pre-2020 mitigation ambition and called for the expeditious ratification of the second commitment period of the protocol.

Expressing serious concern on the low level of mitigation ambition of developed countries, the ministers called for necessary arrangements for increasing emission reduction targets by all developed countries.

Javadekar hoped that continuous meeting and efforts will build up pressure on the developed countries to fulfil their responsibilities, adding, representatives from G-77 countries and other blocks will be invited at the next BASIC meeting in South Africa.

The Ministers also called for full operationalisation and close coordination between institutions established in the Bali process, including Green Climate Fund, Standing Committee on Finance, Technology Executive Committee, among others.

With lack of any clear roadmap for providing USD 100 billion per year by developed countries by 2020, the Ministers urged them to honour their obligations to provide new, additional and predictable financial support to developing countries in a measurable, reportable and verifiable manner.


BASIC countries ask developed nations to ‘walk the talk’

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Guardians of the Galaxy (Movie-Review)

News4u-Entertainment Desk- A bounty hunter finds himself pursued by powerful enemies after he steals an orb. Realising that the orb can be deadly in the wrong hands, he forms a team with four other dodgy individuals, all united by a common cause - to keep the orb (and what it contains) from the wrong hands.

Marvel’s latest offering is quite unlike any in its genre. Apart from wit, guile, strength and a gift for being resourceful, these Guardians are quite the underdogs. Peter Quill (Pratt) is the aforementioned bounty hunter and the villains - Ronan (Pace) and his lord Thanos (Brolin) - want the orb for what it contains.

Thanos sends the chartreuse-coloured Gamora (Saldana) to planet Xandar to steal it from Quill, but their ensuing tussle on the street attracts the attention of a genetically engineered raccoon, Rocket (Cooper) and his tree-mutant companion Groot (Diesel). The subsequent melee lands the bunch in a galactic prison called The Kyln, where they meet the muscular Drax (Bautista) who takes everything literally.

Post-prison break, Quill, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot (vocabulary limited to “I am Groot”) form a hesitant alliance, the aim being to keep the orb from Ronan and Gamora’s half-sister Nebula’s (Gillan) grasp and then sell it. From Xandar to the Kyln, the action shifts to Knowhere, an interstellar trade station shaped like a gigantic alien-like head.

Although a team, Gunn gives each Guardian a well-thought-out personality. Refreshingly innovative, delightfully quirky, very well-made and even boundary-bending, the humour keeps rolling with laser-blast frequency in this wildly imaginative and thoroughly entertaining film. The screenplay is tighter than a racetrack with hairpin turns, but the narrative does have a few fissures.

Despite these chinks, the charming performances, strange characters (don’t miss Del Toro as The Collector), spaceships and of course, the 70s soundtrack (a highlight by itself) make this one a heck of an intergalactic romp.

Don’t miss Stan Lee’s customary cameo and in case you’re new to Marvel film lore, stay past the end credits roll. Courtesy toi…


Guardians of the Galaxy

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Drought and war in E Africa put 14 million people at risk: UN

News4u-News Desk-Poor rains and multiple conflicts across eastern Africa have put over 14 million people in need of food aid, three years since extreme drought devastated the region, the United Nations said on Friday.

“The situation is very worrisome,” said Matthew Conway, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) for Eastern Africa. “There are similarities to the situation that we saw leading to the 2011 crisis,” he said, adding that the United Nations was appealing for USD 2.6 billion in aid.

Conditions are still far from the crisis in 2011, when some 12 million people in four nations were hit by one of the worst droughts in 60 years, with parts of Somalia declared famine zones.

The 14.4 million people classified by the UN as food insecure are spread over nine nations, with the hardest hit countries including war-torn South Sudan and Somalia. Aid workers say famine could be declared in South Sudan within weeks if fighting continues, while last month the UN warned Somalia is sliding back into an acute hunger crisis.

Arid northern Kenya, which like much of the region suffers from recurring droughts, is also struggling.

Oxfam said failed or poor rains, conflict and drought have contributed to the rising food insecurity in the region.

“It is imperative that we learn from the lessons of 2011,” Oxfam’s regional director Fran Equiza told reporters. “Early intervention has the potential to save thousands of lives and keep millions more from the brink of starvation.”

Some 2.7 million people are in dire need of supplies in Ethiopia and 1.3 million in Kenya, many of them refugees from neighbouring Somalia.

Some 120,000 are in need in Djibouti. In Sudan, five million people are at risk, while in South Sudan 3.5 million are struggling.

Tens of thousands are also in need in Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda. More than 250,000 people, half of them children, died in the devastating 2011 famine in Somalia.


Ban ki Moon

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US jets strike jihadists in Iraq to halt advance

News4u-News Desk-The US military on Friday began its air strikes on areas in Iraq controlled by Islamist militants as it dropped laser-guided bombs on a mobile artillery in a bid to halt the advance of terrorists on the city of Erbil where Amrican diplomats are stationed.

“Two F/A-18 aircraft dropped 500-pound laser-guided bombs on a mobile artillery piece near Erbil. ISIL was using this artillery to shell Kurdish forces defending Erbil where US personnel are located,” Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said.

“The decision to strike was made by the US Central Command commander under authorisation granted him by the commander in chief,” he said.

“As the (US) President made clear, the United States military will continue to take direct action against ISIL when they threaten our personnel and facilities,” Kirby said.

Late last night, in an address to the nation, President Barack Obama announced that he has ordered for targeted military strikes against ISIL.

He said in recent days, terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have continued to move across Iraq, and have neared the city of Erbil, where American diplomats and civilians serve at US consulate and American military personnel advise Iraqi forces.

“To stop the advance on Erbil, I’ve directed our military to take targeted strikes against ISIL terrorist convoys should they move toward the city,” he said.

“We intend to stay vigilant, and take action if these terrorist forces threaten our personnel or facilities anywhere in Iraq, including our consulate in Erbil and our embassy in Baghdad.

We’re also providing urgent assistance to Iraqi government and Kurdish forces so they can more effectively wage the fight against ISIL,” Obama said.

However, Obama reiterated that he will not allow the US to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq.

“And so even as we support Iraqis as they take the fight to these terrorists, American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq, because there’s no American military solution to the larger crisis in Iraq.

The only lasting solution is reconciliation among Iraqi communities and stronger Iraqi security forces,” he said.

“The US military will also remain ready to conduct targeted air strikes, if necessary, to help forces in Iraq fighting to break the siege of Mount Sinjar and protect Iraqi civilians trapped there,” US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a statement from New Delhi where he is travelling.

“In addition, we are prepared to conduct air strikes to protect American personnel against ISIL terrorist convoys should they approach Erbil,” the Defense Secretary said.


US jet FA18

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Govt committed to safeguard freedom of press: Javadekar

News4u-News Desk-Committing to safeguard the freedom of press, Government on Friday ruled out any interference in media but wanted “self mechanisms” to be improved to maintain accountability and responsibility of the fourth pillar of democracy.

Information and Broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar, while responding to concerns expressed by members in Rajya Sabha over freedom of media said the government is committed to protect the independence of press.

He, however, said no freedom comes without responsibility and said that media’s affairs should be looked after by its own mechanisms.

“I don’t like the word ‘regulation’ so there should be self mechanisms,” Javadekar said.

He said there is need for “improvement” in these self regulatory mechanisms. “More life needs to be breathed into these mechanisms,” he said.

These self mechanisms should have provision for penal action for irresponsible reporting, he said.

The Minister said presently there is Press Council of India for the print media which is but a “toothless wonder.”

Even the orders of Press Council are not published, he said.

He said that for news channels there is the News Broadcasting Standards Authority while for entertainment channels there exists Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC).

To look into issues related to advertisements, he said there is Advertising Standards Council of India.

He said that at times there is “sensationalism” in news reports related to leaders or other areas and there have been cases where people have even committed suicide.

Referring to the phenomenon of paid news, he said people know about its reality.

On social media, Javadekar said the need for evolving a mechanism to regulate it is an issue for consideration but it pertains to a subject administered by another ministry as this medium comes under the information and technology law.


Information and Broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar

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Modi extended open invite to address US Congress joint session

News4u-News Desk- In a goodwill gesture, Speaker of US House of Representatives John Boehner has invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address a joint session of the US Congress at a date convenient to him.

However, Modi would not be able to address the Congress when he comes to Washington DC in the last week of September mainly because of the unpredictability of the schedule of both the House of Representatives and the Senate due to mid-term elections in November.

In a letter addressed to Modi, Speaker Boehner said there is an interest in the US House of Representatives in inviting the new Indian Prime Minister to address a Joint Meeting of the Congress.

More than 80 lawmakers had recently written to Boehner, urging him to invite Modi to address a joint session of the Congress. A similar letter was written by several Senators to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

“If not for the unpredictability of the House schedule in late September of this year, an invitation for you to address a Joint Meeting during your upcoming trip to the United States would have been extended,” Boehner wrote in his letter dated July 30.

“I would be very interested in exploring with you the possibility of a visit to the United States Capitol and an address to a Joint Meeting of Congress should your travels bring you back to our country in the months and years ahead,” Boehner said.

“I wish you the best of luck for a safe and successful journey to the United States in September. We look forward to working with you and your government to strengthen the relationship between the people of your country and those of the United States, and to build a more peaceful and prosperous world,” Boehner said in his letter.

The letter from Boehner to Modi is said to be a rare goodwill gesture, as such invitation letters are normally issued with specific time and date. However, Boehner has issued an open-ended letter inviting Modi to address a joint session of the Congress.


Indo Us ties

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