UNHCR condemns Lanka sending back Pakistani asylum seekers

News4u-News Desk- The UN refugee agency has condemned Sri Lanka’s decision of sending back 88 Pakistani asylum seekers despite international calls to stop deporting them to a place where their lives could be in danger.

“Initially, those deportees had been men previously placed into detention, but now whole families were being deported,” Adrian Edwards, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson has said.

“UNHCR is seriously concerned at these deportations, including of families and vulnerable people whose international protection needs have not been assessed,” Edwards said.

The UNHCR said at least 88 Pakistanis have been sent home since August 1.

“By sending these people back, Sri Lanka is in breach of its obligations under international law concerning the principle of no-forced-returns, or non-refoulement,” he added.

The UNHCR guidelines say members of the Pakistani religious minorities including the Ahmadiyya Muslim, Christian and Shia may be in need of international protection and require particularly careful examination of their asylum claims.

At least 157 asylum seekers, including 84 Pakistanis, 71 Afghans and 2 Iranians remained under Sri Lankan detention, according to UNHCR.


UNHCR

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Magnitude-5.1 quake rattles Ecuador’s capital Quito

News4u-News Desk- An earthquake measured at a preliminary magnitude of 5.1 has rattled Ecuador’s capital and surrounding areas, causing tall buildings to sway and sending people scurrying into the streets.

The US Geological Survey said the quake which occurred Tuesday was centred 14 miles (23 kilometres) northeast of Quito at a depth of 4 miles (7 kilometres).

There were no early reports of injuries or severe damage, but officials said some roads had been blocked by small landslides.

Authorities halted operations at the capital Tababela airport as a precaution because of a thick layer of dust thrown up into the sky around Quito.


Magnitude-5.1 quake

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ISRO mulls developing higher capability comm satellites

News4u-News Desk- ISRO is planning to develop communication satellites in higher frequency bands and power and data handling capacity in the range of 100 Gigabits per second to meet the growing demands of broadband internet and rural telecom connectivity, ISRO chairman K Radhakrishnan said.

Radhakrishnan also said the premier space research organisation is looking for suitable foreign partners to acquire the technology and upgrade ISRO’s current satellite platforms to meet the future demands.

“For the future, we are looking for communication satellites in the higher frequency bands with about 15 KW of power and data handling capacity in the range of 100 Gigabits per second that can meet the ever growing demand in the country towards broadband internet, rural telecom connectivity etc,” the chief of the Indian Space Research Organisation said.

He was speaking at the convocation of BITS-Pilani Hyderabad campus.

Besides launching new satellites, the organisation has also plans of replacing the ageing satellites and enhance the observation capability to the level of 0.25 m spatial resolution and provide new capability for imaging from geo stationary orbit with 50 m spatial resolution, he said.

ISRO is also partnering with Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA to jointly develop a dual frequency microwave imaging satellite by 2020, Radhakrishnan said.

“In this scheme of alliance, ISRO is responsible for the overall satellite platform, S Band synthetic aperture radar and the launch of the satellite by GSLV,” he explained.

On the moon mission, he said India is in the process of developing its own Lander-module and lunar rover as well as orbiter craft for Chandrayaan-2 that is targeted for launch by GSLV within the next three years.

Elaborating on the Mars mission, the ISRO head stated that the Mars orbiter space aircraft has traversed nearly 88 percent distance along its designated path to the red planet.

“The next operational milestone is the insertion of the spacecraft into the Martian orbit on September 24, 2014. If successful, India will be the first Asian country to orbit a spacecraft around planet Mars and the first country in the world to achieve this in the first attempt,” he said.

According to him, a number of critical technologies are being developed for a possible human spaceflight in the future.


ISRO mulls developing higher capability comm satellites

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PM to announce financial inclusion mission on I-Day

News4u-News Desk- Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to unveil an ambitious financial inclusion scheme on the Independence Day to provide bank accounts to 15 crore poor persons with an overdraft facility of Rs 5,000 and accident insurance of Rs 1 lakh.

Financial Inclusion Mission, which has been approved by the Cabinet, will be formally launched by Modi here at the end of this month, sources said. The government is gearing up to operationalise the scheme across the country on August 28 or 29, they added.

The scheme, to be pushed by the government in a mission mode, seeks to provide two accounts to 7.5 crore identified households by August 2018. The main features of the scheme include Rs 5,000 overdraft facility for Aadhar-linked accounts, Ru Pay Debit Card with inbuilt Rs 1 lakh accident insurance cover and minimum monthly renumeration of Rs 5,000 to business correspondents who will provide the last link between the account holders and the bank.

The new scheme, sources said, is a significant improvement over the UPA’s financial inclusion programme.

The earlier scheme had no focus on households and no emphasis was given on urban financial inclusion, according to some experts.

Besides, they maintained that there was a cumbersome Know Your Customer formality, restricting account opening. Other deficiencies cited included lack of credit disbursement and 47 percent of business correspondents being untraceable, resulting in inactive accounts.

The new scheme, sources said, has tried to address all the possible deficiencies and its monitoring would be done at state and district levels. The ‘mission mode’ approach has been envisaged with the Finance Minister as head of the mission.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi

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JKWDC provides loans over Rs 13 crore to women entrepreneurs

News4u-Features Desk- Jammu and Kashmir Women’s Development Corporation (JKWDC) has provided loans to the tune of Rs 13.25 crore during the current financial year to women entrepreneurs generating self employment to over 2500 women in the state.
“Under Sher-e-Kashmir Employment and Welfare Programme for Youth (SKEWPY), JKWDC has so far succeeded in providing loans of Rs 13.25 crore to women entrepreneurs there by empowering 863 women beneficiaries directly and generating self employment to more than 2580 women,” an official spokesman said after the 20th Board of Directors meeting of the corporation.

Similarly under revolving fund between 2011-12 and 2013-14, he said the corporation succeeded in establishing 216 units and generating employment for 627 women.

Regarding recovery process, he said NPA of corporation stands only to the extent of 0.05 of total loaning.

The spokesman said the meeting, which was chaired by Social Welfare minister Sakina Itoo, deliberated at length the steps required to be taken for making the corporation more efficient and at the same time provide more benefits to the under privileged sections of the society.

He said the meeting decided to release fourth instalment (20 per cent) of the sixth pay commission arrears in favour of the corporation employees.

The instalment of arrears would be provided by the corporation out of its own resources keeping in view the encouraging recovery process by it, the spokesman said.

Addressing the meeting, the minister emphasised on bringing more transparency and rationalisation in loan disbursement so that all deserving beneficiaries get their due share without any discrimination at any level.

She asked the officers to give focused attention on wide coverage of beneficiaries of rural and far-flung areas under the schemes of the corporation.


JKWDC provides loans over Rs 13 crore to women entrepreneurs

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SC dismisses PIL seeking ban on Amir Khan’s PK

News4u-Entertainment Desk- In a major relief Supreme Court dismissed the public interest litigation seeking ban on the release of Aamir Khan’s film PK for promoting nudity and vulgarity.

Supreme Court today dismissed plea filed against Aamir Khan and director of film ‘PK’ Rajkumar Hirani for allegedly showing nudity in the movie. Aamir Khans latest poster of film PK had caused a controversy with a section of viewers.

All India Human Rights and Social Justice Front had filed a petition on Wednesday, that the film promotes nudity and pleaded the apex court to immediately intervene in the matter.

The Supreme Court told the petitioner today that “If you don’t like then don’t watch the film but don’t bring religious facets in it”. The Supreme Court also said that “These are matters of art and entertainment and let them remain so”.

As a boost for Aamir Khan’s latest film PK the Supreme Court said that any restrictions on release of film would affect constitutional right of the film makers.


Amir Khan

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Paes-Stepanek knocked out from Cincinnati Masters

News4u-Sports Desk- Fifth seeds Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek were eliminated from the ATP Cincinnati Masters following their defeat against Vasek Pospisil and Jack Sock.

Paes and Stepanek lost 1-6 6-4 8-10 in the second round of the USD 4,017,355 hard court event in the run up to the US Open, the last Grand Slam tournament of the season.

The Canadian-American combo had also ousted the Indo-Pak pair of Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-ul-haq Qureshi earlier in the tournament.

India’s challenge is still alive in the women’s tournament as Sania Mirza and Cara Black have got a bye in the first round.

The fourth seeded Indo-Zimbabwean pair faces Spain’s Anabel Medina Garrigues and Kazakhstan’s Yaroslava Shvedova in the USD 2,567,000 Western and Southern Open.


Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek

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Federer wins milestone 300th Masters match

News4u-Sports Desk- Roger Federer became the first man to win 300 matches at the ATP Masters 1000 level, beating Vasek Pospisil 7-6 (7/4), 5-7, 6-2 on Wednesday in Cincinnati.

The victory in just over two hours put the 33-year-old world number three into the third round as he began his final tune-up tournament for the US Open.

The Swiss great, who had notched his 200th Masters match win against Lleyton Hewitt at Cincinnati five years ago, arrived at the tournament he has won five times off a runner-up finish to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Toronto.

He delivered a dominant third set to finally subdue the 46th-ranked Pospisil, who was a finalist last month in Washington.

He stretched his career record over the Canadian to 3-0.

After taking the first set in the tiebreaker, Federer was broken in the 12th game of the second as the challenger forced a deciding set.

But Federer powered through the third, breaking his opponent twice on the way to victory and finishing with 23 winners and 21 unforced errors, with six aces along the way.

While safely followed top seed Novak Djkokovic into the third round, two of the men’s top eight were toppled.

Taiwan’s Lu Yen-Hsun stunned Czech fourth seed Tomas Berdych 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 while Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz upset number seven Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 — four days after the Bulgarian played a semi-final in Toronto.

Sixth seed David Ferrer fought through three tiebreakers to beat German Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/4), and eighth-seeded Andy Murray advanced with a smooth, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Portugal’s Joao Sousa.

Murray, who lifted the Cincinnati trophy in 2008 and 2011, is searching for his first title since winning Wimbledon 13 months ago.


Roger Federer

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Iran’s Mirzakhani first woman to win prestigious math prize

News4u-News Desk- An Iranian-born mathematician has become the first woman to win a prestigious global prize known as the Field Medal, the International Congress of Mathematicians has announced.

Maryam Mirzakhani, a Harvard educated mathematician and professor at Stanford University in California, was one of four winners announced at the group’s conference in Seoul.

An expert in the geometry of unusual forms, she has come up with novel ways to calculate the volumes of oddly-shaped hyperbolic surfaces, which can be curved like a saddle or curly like a piece of crochet.

“Fluent in a remarkably diverse range of mathematical techniques and disparate mathematical cultures, she embodies a rare combination of superb technical ability, bold ambition, far-reaching vision, and deep curiosity,” the ICM said in a statement Tuesday.

Mirzakhani was born in Tehran in 1977 and earned her PhD in 2004 from Harvard University.

She has previously won the 2009 Blumenthal Award for the Advancement of Research in Pure Mathematics and the 2013 Satter Prize of the American Mathematical Society.

The Fields Medal is given out every four years, to four separate winners.

The other three winners this year were Artur Avila of France, Manjul Bhargava of Princeton University in New Jersey, and Martin Hairer of the University of Warwick in Britain.


Maryam Mirzakhani

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More than one million people affected by Ebola outbreak: WHO

News4u-News Desk- With more than one million people affected by the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the WHO has warned that there is “no early end in sight” to the severe health crisis and called for “extraordinary measures” to stop the transmission of the disease.

According to the latest update issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO), 128 new cases of Ebola virus disease, as well as 56 deaths, were reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone between August 10 and 11, bringing the total number of cases to 1,975 and deaths to 1,069.

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said more than one million people are affected by the disease and these people need daily material support, including food.

The infected people are in the “hot zone of disease transmission” on the borders of the three countries most impacted by the disease.

“There is no early end (to the outbreak) in sight. This is an extraordinary outbreak that requires extraordinary measures for containment. This is a severe health crisis, and it can rapidly become a humanitarian crisis if we do not do more to stop transmission,” Chan said during a briefing in Geneva on Wednesday.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon chaired a UN system-wide coordination on Ebola and stressed the need for the entire UN system to support the WHO’s efforts in combating the outbreak.

Chan said the outbreak has placed every city with an international airport at risk of an imported case.

“Decisions to seal off the hot zone of disease transmission, that is, the area where the borders of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone intersect, are critical for stopping the reinfection of areas via the cross-border movement of people,” she said.

Chan said that the isolation of the zone most affected by the outbreak has made it even more difficult for agencies, like MSF (Doctors without Borders), to bring in staff and supplies.

“The outbreak is unprecedented in its size, severity, and complexity. Cases are occurring in remote rural areas that are difficult to access, but also in capital cities,” she said.

She also expressed concern over the “unprecedented” number of health-care workers who have been infected by the virus.

So far, nearly 170 health-care workers have been infected and more than 80 have died.

The outbreak is also having serious economic consequences on the countries in the region, threatening to push these countries backwards as airlines are cancelling flights and companies are moving their staff out of the region.

“Six months into the outbreak, fear is proving to be the most difficult barrier to overcome. Ban appointed David Nabarro as Senior United Nations System Coordinator for Ebola, in support of the work done by Chan and her team to counter the outbreak, which the agency has designated a “public health emergency of international concern.”

Nabarro would be responsible for ensuring that the UN system makes an effective and coordinated contribution to the global effort to control the outbreak.

Meanwhile, a 12-member ethics panel convened by WHO said it is ethical to treat Ebola patients with experimental drugs to counter the largest, most severe and most complex outbreak of the disease in history.

On the operational side, WHO said it is finalising its strategic operations response plan and expects to share it with countries and partners in the coming days.

The UN health agency said that standard measures, like early detection and isolation of cases, contact tracing and monitoring, and rigorous procedures for infection control, have stopped previous Ebola outbreaks including those in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as Gabon.

The Ebola virus is highly contagious, but is not airborne.

Transmission requires close contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, as can occur during health-care procedures, home care, or traditional burial practices, which involve the close contact of family members and friends with bodies.


Ebola

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