Libya’s rival legislatures agree to resume peace talks


Libya’s rival legislatures agree to resume peace talks

The meeting came weeks after the separate visits by President of the Libyan High Council of State Khalid al-Mishri and Speaker of the Libyan House of Representatives Aguila Saleh to Morocco.

Libya’s two rival legislative bodies have agreed to resume peace talks in Morocco in the last week of September.

In a joint statement issued at the end of a five-day meeting on Thursday, the High Council of State based in the Libyan capital Tripoli and the eastern-based House of Representatives said they “have reached a comprehensive agreement on the criteria and mechanisms to occupy the keys posts of sovereignty”, reports Xinhua news agency.

The statement declined to give further details about the agreement, only confirming that the talks will be held in the last week of September.

The meeting came weeks after the separate visits by President of the Libyan High Council of State Khalid al-Mishri and Speaker of the Libyan House of Representatives Aguila Saleh to Morocco.

In 2015, Morocco hosted the UN-brokered peace talks between Libya’s rival parties that led to the conclusion of the Libyan Political Agreement on forming a national unity government.

Despite that, Libya remains politically divided amid insecurity and escalating violence.

The UN-backed government had been engaged in a deadly armed conflict against the eastern-based army for more than a year over control of the capital Tripoli, before the former recently took over all of western Libya.

 

By Agency




UCO Bank cut MCLR by five basis points


UCO Bank cut MCLR by five basis points

State-run Bank of Maharashtra reduced its MCLR by up to 10 basis points for select tenors effective Monday.

State-owned UCO Bank slashed its marginal cost of fund based lending rate (MCLR) by five basis points. The new rates came into effect from Thursday onwards.

UCO Bank slashed its one-year MCLR to 7.35 per cent from 7.40 per cent and it would be same for all tenors, the lender said in a statement.

On Monday, state-run Bank of Maharashtra reduced its MCLR by up to 10 basis points for select tenors. Its peer Indian Overseas Bank (IOB) also said it will cut its MCLR by 10 basis points (bps) across all tenors effective September 10.

Bank of Maharashtra has reduced its one-year and six-month MCLR to 7.30 per cent (from 7.40 per cent) and 7.25 per cent (from 7.30 per cent) respectively, it said in a release. For overnight, one-month and three-month tenors, the Pune-based lender’s MCLRs have been revised to 6.80 per cent, 7 per cent and 7.20 per cent respectively.

On the other hand, in a filing to exchanges, IOB said its one-year MCLR has been revised to 7.55 per cent from 7.65 per cent, effective September 10. Three-month and six-month MCLRs have been cut to 7.45 per cent from 7.55 per cent.




Louisiana to enter Phase 3 of economic reopening


Louisiana to enter Phase 3 of economic reopening

Louisiana has been in Phase 2 since June 5 and Edwards closed bars for on-premises consumption and mandated masks statewide on July 13.

The US state of Louisiana will move to Phase 3 of economic reopening starting from Friday due to improving situation in the fight against Covid-19, Governor John Bel Edwards announced.

“The data is positive enough that we will be going in to Phase 3 tomorrow,” Xinhua news agency quoted Edwards as saying in a statement on Thursday.

The Governor further said that he will provide details of the Phase 3 on Friday.

During the announcement, Edwards repeatedly urged people not to assume that a new phase means the pandemic is over.

Local media said that Phase 3 is expected to ease restrictions for restaurants, stores, churches, gyms and possibly bars.

Louisiana has been in Phase 2 since June 5 and Edwards closed bars for on-premises consumption and mandated masks statewide on July 13.

The current phase is expected to expire on Friday.

Louisiana on Thursday reported 499 new coronavirus cases, taking the statewide tally to more than 156,000.

The state also registered 21 new fatalities which increased the overall death toll to 5,161.




Libya’s rival legislatures agree to resume peace talks


Libya’s rival legislatures agree to resume peace talks

The meeting came weeks after the separate visits by President of the Libyan High Council of State Khalid al-Mishri and Speaker of the Libyan House of Representatives Aguila Saleh to Morocco.

 

Libya’s two rival legislative bodies have agreed to resume peace talks in Morocco in the last week of September.

In a joint statement issued at the end of a five-day meeting on Thursday, the High Council of State based in the Libyan capital Tripoli and the eastern-based House of Representatives said they “have reached a comprehensive agreement on the criteria and mechanisms to occupy the keys posts of sovereignty”, reports Xinhua news agency.

The statement declined to give further details about the agreement, only confirming that the talks will be held in the last week of September.

The meeting came weeks after the separate visits by President of the Libyan High Council of State Khalid al-Mishri and Speaker of the Libyan House of Representatives Aguila Saleh to Morocco.

In 2015, Morocco hosted the UN-brokered peace talks between Libya’s rival parties that led to the conclusion of the Libyan Political Agreement on forming a national unity government.

Despite that, Libya remains politically divided amid insecurity and escalating violence.

The UN-backed government had been engaged in a deadly armed conflict against the eastern-based army for more than a year over control of the capital Tripoli, before the former recently took over all of western Libya.

 

 




Spilling the beans


Spilling the beans

The extent to which the in house spilling of the beans will tarnish the standing of the omnipotent military and a generally tightlipped Suu Kyi can only be speculated upon.

When Myanmar’s putative icon of democracy, Aung San Suu Kyi, raised the flag of her party, the National League for Democracy, in Yangon on Tuesday, she at least theoretically flagged off the ruling party’s campaign for the election this November.

But the really unprecedented development of the day was the startling confession by two soldiers on the Rohingya persecution, notably executions, mass burials, rape and obliteration of villages. “Shoot all you see and all you hear,” was the stern directive of the commanding officer.

The extent to which the in house spilling of the beans will tarnish the standing of the omnipotent military and a generally tightlipped Suu Kyi can only be speculated upon. Suffice it to register that the video testimony from the two soldiers ~ which was shared with international prosecutors ~ is the first time that representatives of Tatmadaw (the Myanmarese military) have openly confessed to taking part in what UN officials say was a genocidal campaign against the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority.

The statement by the soldiers coincides with the International Criminal Court opening a case to examine whether the Myanmarese military committed large-scale crimes against the Rohingyas. The soldiers have been sent to The Hague to be present during the trial.

This is a “monumental moment for Rohingyas and the people of Myanmar in their ongoing struggle for justice,” is the response of a human rights watchdog. Both soldiers could well be the first “insider witnesses” in the custody of the court.

While it is yet to be confirmed whether these two soldiers committed the crimes to which they confessed, details of their statement conform to descriptions provided by dozens of witnesses and observers, including Rohingya refugees, residents of Rakhine, soldiers and politicians. It is not clear what will happen to the two men, who are not under arrest but were effectively placed in the custody of the ICC on Monday.

The soldiers’ testimony will also add weight to the separate case at the International Court of Justice, where Myanmar has been accused of trying to “destroy the Rohingyas as a group, in whole or in part, by the use of mass murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, as well as the systematic destruction by fire of their villages”.

The regime in Naypidaw, if nominally helmed by Suu Kyi, could arguably have its back to the wall. It shall not be easy to airbrush, far less deny, the hideous narrative. Arguably, the soldiers’ confession will impinge on the proceedings of the International Criminal Court.

Their presence might lend a new dimension to the hearing. Myanmar’s Election Commission is yet to decide whether the vote will still go ahead as planned. In the interim, Suu Kyi has alleged that her campaign was disrupted because of travel restrictions in the wake of Covid19. The objective reflection of the soldiers reflects poorly on the military.




China passed ‘extraordinary, historic test’ with its handling of coronavirus: President Xi Jinping


China passed ‘extraordinary, historic test’ with its handling of coronavirus: President Xi Jinping

Statesman News Service | New Delh
China has passed “an extraordinary and historic test” with its handling of the coronavirus, President Xi Jinping said Tuesday at a triumphant awards ceremony for medical professionals decorated with bugle calls and applause.

The nation’s propaganda machine has churned out praise for China’s Covid-19 response, reframing the public health crisis as an example of the agility and organisation of the Communist leadership.

Xi doled out gold medals to four “heroes” from the medical field in front of hundreds of applauding delegates on Tuesday, all wearing face masks and strikingly large red flower pins.

“We have passed an extraordinary and historic test,” Xi said, praising the country for a “heroic struggle” against the disease.

“We quickly achieved initial success in the people’s war against the coronavirus. We are leading the world in economic recovery and in the fight against Covid-19.”

China has come under intense global scrutiny over its response to the virus, with the United States and Australia leading accusations against Beijing that it covered up the origins and severity of the virus.

Tuesday’s lavish ceremony in the Great Hall of the People began with a minute’s silence for those who lost their lives during the outbreak.

The four awardees included 83-year-old Zhong Nanshan — the country’s most famous medical expert who emerged as the face of China’s fight against the contagion.

He was awarded China’s top national medal by Xi, who placed it around Zhong’s neck.

“We will join hands with the… world’s medical workers to continue the fight in tracing the origins of the virus,” said Zhong.

Beijing has insisted the source of the virus — which first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year — is still unknown.

Three others were given the honorary title of “The People’s Hero” — biochemical expert Chen Wei, the head of a hospital in Wuhan, and a 72-year-old expert in traditional Chinese medicine.

Some delegates were in tears during a series of speeches.

There was no mention however of whistleblower doctor Li Wenliang, who was among the first to be silenced for raising the alarm about the outbreak and later died from the disease.

Before the ceremony, state broadcaster CCTV showed a video montage of Wuhan at the peak of the outbreak set to rousing music, including images of medical staff in hazmat suits and crowded hospitals.

According to official numbers there have been 4,634 deaths in China from Covid-19. The government has largely contained the outbreak through a serious of strict lockdowns and travel restrictions.




Debt-ridden Vodafone Idea aims to raise Rs 25,000 crore


Debt-ridden Vodafone Idea aims to raise Rs 25,000 crore

The fund-raising plans are subject to shareholders’ nod and other statutory approvals.

Vodafone Idea on Friday announced that the company plans to raise up to Rs 25,000 crore in fresh capital through a combination of equity and debt instruments to keep the company afloat.

The announcement comes days after the Supreme Court delivered its verdict on the Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) case and directed the telcos to pay 10 per cent of total AGR-related dues this year, and rest of the payments in 10 instalments, starting next fiscal year.

The fund raising will give a life-line to the loss-making company, which has suffered massive losses, as it has been losing subscribers and faces outstanding AGR dues of about Rs 50,000 crore.


 
“Issue of equity shares or securities convertible into equity shares, Global Depository Receipts, American Depository Receipts, foreign currency convertible bonds, convertible debentures, warrants, composite issue of non-convertible debentures and warrants entitling the warrant holder(s) to apply for equity shares or a combination thereof up to an aggregate amount of Rs. 15,000 crore by way a public issue, preferential allotment, private placement, qualified institutions placement or through any other permissible mode in one or more tranches,” the company said in a regulatory filing on Friday.

The fund-raising plans are subject to shareholders’ nod and other statutory approvals.

The filing further mentioned, “issuance of unsecured and / or secured, non-convertible debentures up to an aggregate amount of Rs. 15,000 crore, by way of public offering or private placement basis or otherwise, in one or more tranches.”

“However, the total raising of funds under (a) and (b) above shall not exceed Rs. 25,000 crore,” it added.

The proposals will be taken up at the company’s annual general meeting scheduled on September 30, 2020.

It is worth mentioning that Vodafone Idea on Thursday clarified that it had received no $ 4 billion investment proposal from Amazon.com or Verizon. However, it constantly evaluates various opportunities as part of corporate strategy, there is no such proposal currently before the Board at yet.

Fund infusion is critical for VIL, the third largest operator in the fiercely-competitive Indian telecom market, where Jio’s entry in 2016 with free calls and cheap data pushed some rivals to exit, acquire, or merge to stay afloat.

Notably, Vodafone Idea’s overall AGR dues stood at over Rs 58,000 crore, of which the company has paid Rs 7,854 crore to the Department of Telecom so far.

The statutory dues arose after the Supreme Court, in October last year, upheld the government’s position on including revenue from non-core businesses in calculating the annual AGR of telecom companies, a share of which is paid as licence and spectrum fee to the exchequer.

VIL has been under severe financial pressure, and analysts time and again have cautioned that the company’s longer-term viability remains under cloud.

In December, Vodafone Idea Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla had said VIL may have to shut if there is no relief on the statutory dues.

The company had reported a staggering Rs 73,878 crore of net loss in fiscal ended March 2020 – the highest ever by any Indian firm – after it provisioned for Supreme Court mandated statutory dues.

It reported a net loss of Rs 25,460 crore for the June quarter after making additional provisions to pay past statutory dues and had said its ability to continue as going concern hinges on the Supreme Court allowing more time to pay dues.




Trump declares Modi support, drags India into US electoral minefield


Trump declares Modi support, drags India into US electoral minefield

“We have great support from India, we have great support from Prime Minister Modi, and I would think that the people, the Indian people would be voting for Trump,” he said on Friday when asked about the Indian American vote.

President Donald Trump has dragged India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi into a possible minefield of US politics by asserting that India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi give him “great support” in the context of the US elections where foreign involvement is a sore point.

“We have great support from India, we have great support from Prime Minister Modi, and I would think that the people, the Indian people would be voting for Trump,” he said on Friday when asked about the Indian American vote.

A reporter referred to a video “Four More Years” targeting Indian Americans that was released during the Republican National Convention and was retweeted by his eldest son, Donald Trump, Jr., and asked if the community would vote for him.

“I do,” Trump said. “We had an event in Houston, as you know, and it was a fantastic event. I was invited by Prime Minister Modi, this was massive, this was where they play football, Houston football team, It was incredible. It was actually incredible. The prime minister could not have been more generous.”

He then made the assertion about support from India and Modi, which could be controversial given the allegations of foreign interference in the November presidential elections.

Democrats have said that Russia was backing Trump and the Republicans have said that China was backing the Democratic Party’s candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden.

The concept for the video, “Four More Years,” credited to Al Mason, the co-chair of the Trump Victory Indian American Finance Committee is subtle by using clips of Modi praising Trump at the “Howdy Modi” rally of about 50,000 Indian Americans in Houston last year and Trump praising Indian Americans and India, and saying the US will always be a “loyal and faithful friend to the Indian people” at the “Namaste Trump” rally in Ahmedabad in February.

However, Trump’s assertion at the Friday news conference of backing from Modi and India was more forthright and implies direct support from them for Trump in the elections which could complicate relations with the Democrats.

Indian Americans have traditionally been a bastion of the Democratic Party.

The Pew Research Centre has found that 65 per cent of Indian Americans are Democrats or lean towards the party.

According to Karthick Ramakrishnan, the director of the Asian American Pacific Islander Data which produces political research about those communities, 77 per cent of Indian Americans voted for the Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton and only 16 per cent for Trump in the 2016 election.

But Ramakrishnan told a National Public Radio interviewer in February, “My hunch is that there’s probably some movement towards President Trump but still overwhelming support for the Democratic Party and Democratic candidates as opposed to President Trump.”

Indian American voters could play a role in the battleground states — the swing states where neither party has an overwhelming majority and could go either way.

The reporter asked Trump if his eldest son and daughter Ivanka Trump would campaign for him among Indian Americans in the battleground states this year.

Trump replied, “They’re very good young people. And I know their relationship to India is very good and so is mine. And Prime Minister Modi is a friend of mine and he has done a very good job. Nothing easy, nothing easy, but he is doing a very good job.”

He added, “They think a lot of India and so do I, and I think a lot of your prime minister.”

He said, “What we saw (during the February India visit), the people are so incredible. It is really an incredible place and incredible country. And it is definitely big, it is definitely big. But you have got a great leader and he is a great person.”

While defending his response to the Covid-19 pandemic, he said that India has “done a good job” of testing for the disease, carrying out the second-highest number of tests in the world, ranking behind the US.

In 2016, the Trump campaign made special efforts to reach out to Hindu voters. Communal and religious appeals are legal in the US and both parties resort to them, although it was the first time a presidential candidate campaigned for Hindu votes.

Trump addressed a rally organised by the Republican Hindu Coalition and his son Eric visited a Hindu temple in Florida.

A video of Trump welcoming a sari-clad Indian software developer to the “great American family of citizens” during a citizenship ceremony at the White House was shown at last month’s Republican Convention to show his support for legal immigrants.

However, in his address to the convention he highlighted action against employing H1-B workers at a government-owned energy conglomerate. Indians get the majority H1-B visas, given to professionals and specialised workers and efforts to curtail them are met with criticism from India.

The convention also showed a video in which Trump presented as a “hostage” an American missionary caught by his own admission in India committing currency violations. Even though he was given due process with the Indian judiciary and released, Trump had him presented alongside victims of countries like Iran and Syria.




First ballots of 2020 US presidential election issued in North Carolina


First ballots of 2020 US presidential election issued in North Carolina

State data showed Democratic voters are requesting ballots at more than three times the rate of Republican voters, Xinhua news agency reported on Friday.

More than half-million absentee ballots, the first ballots of the 2020 US presidential election, have left elections offices en route to voters who have requested them across the southern state of North Carolina, a spokesman for the North Carolina Board of Elections said.

Over 643,000 North Carolinians have requested ballots so far this year, and hundreds of thousands more are likely to do so in the 60 days remaining before the November 3 elections, according to a The Hill report. State data showed Democratic voters are requesting ballots at more than three times the rate of Republican voters, Xinhua news agency reported on Friday.

The figure far exceeds the previous presidential contest. At this point in 2016, just 38,871 voters had asked for their absentee ballots, said the report.

The number of US voters who cast ballots by mail has roughly doubled this century, from about 10 per cent in the 2000 election to about 21 per cent in 2016, according to data compiled by University of Florida political scientist Michael McDonald. That number is expected to explode this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Up to 44 million voters in nine states and the District of Columbia will have their ballots automatically mailed to their homes. Another 118 million voters live in 34 states that, like North Carolina, allow no-excuse absentee voting.




UP Police nabs accused in rape, murder of three-year-old girl in Lakhimpur Kheri


UP Police nabs accused in rape, murder of three-year-old girl in Lakhimpur Kheri

The district police chief, Satendra Kumar, had told that the police have formed four teams to look for the accused man.

In the latest development in the three-year-old girl’s rape and murder case in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri, the police have caught the accused man in an encounter on Friday.

The district police chief, Satendra Kumar, had told that the police have formed four teams to look for the accused man.

This is the third case of rape and murder in the state in the last 20 days. She was found missing since Wednesday and her body was found just half a kilometre from her home.

Yesterday, the police had called it murder. Sexual assault was confirmed by the autopsy, said the police.

In his complaint to the police, the girl’s father had accused a villager Lekhram. He alleged that the girl was kidnapped and killed in a rivalry.

“The body has been sent for post-mortem. We are investigating the matter and stringent action will be taken against accused,” he added.

Last week, a 17-year-old girl was raped and her mutilated body was found near a village in Lakhimpur Kheri district.

The police had initially said the girl appeared to have been killed with a sharp weapon and that she had sustained injuries to her neck. The body was found near a dried-up pond, around 200 metres from her village.

The post-mortem report has confirmed rape, said SP Satendar Kumar and added that all possible efforts are being made to identify and arrest the accused.

According to the relatives of the girl, she had left home on Monday to visit a neighbouring town to fill up a scholarship form. However, when she did not return, the family informed the police.

On August 15, a 13-year-old girl was raped and killed in Lakhimpur Kheri district and her body found in a sugarcane field. The girl’s family had claimed that their daughter’s body was found with her eyes gouged out, tongue cut and strangled with a ‘dupatta’, in a sugarcane field.

However, the UP Police denied that the girl’s eyes were gouged out or tongue being cut, as it was not mentioned in the post-mortem report. They said that the report states rape and strangulation.

On August 16, in yet another shocking incident emerging from Uttar Pradesh, a minor girl was allegedly raped and singed with cigarette butts by two men in the Gola area of Gorakhpur district.

Earlier, on August 6, a 6-year-old girl in Hapur district of Uttar Pradesh was kidnapped and raped. She was left to die in a nearby forest, from where a search and rescue team found her almost 12 hours later. The police later arrested the accused. The girl has been through at least one surgery following the attack.




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