Swastika Row: New York State legislature stalls hate symbols bill; Hindu American Foundation appreciates move

Swastika Row: New York State legislature stalls hate symbols bill; Hindu American Foundation appreciates move

The New York State Assembly Bill regarding the incorporation of "symbols of hate, including the swastika and the noose, into the curriculum for grades six through twelve" has been stalled and will not be brought up by the Assembly Committee on Education.

Meanwhile, the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) has appreciated the move. Taniel Koushakjian HAF Director of Public Policy said, "We appreciate that members of the New York State Senate and Assembly are open to hearing from Hindu Americans who, while supporting the spirit and intention of the legislation, have expressed deep concerns with the bill in its current form which inaccurately defines the swastika and ignores its origin and continued use as a positive, sacred religious symbol."

Several Hindu American organizations and community members had started petitions and awareness campaigns to educate New York state officials and the general public about the inaccuracies in the bill and the sacred meaning behind the swastika," read the HAF blog.

According to HAF, the bill defines 'Swastika' as a symbol of Nazi Germany, however, it fails to explain the historical origins and its use today as a symbol in various religions such as Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism, and Buddhism.

“To label the Swastika as a symbol of hate would be a grave insult to 1.8 billion Hindus and Buddhists around the world,” American Hindus Against Defamation (AHAD) said in a statement.

AHAD has also demanded that the meaning and significance of 'Swastika' be included in the educational curriculum so that the hate crimes against Hindus are not perpetuated.

Afghan girl kills Taliban terrorists with AK-47 gun to avenge parents' murder

Afghan girl kills Taliban terrorists with AK-47 gun to avenge parents' murder

Meet Joachim Bergstrom, the Swedish ambassador to North Korea, whose love for yoga will make Baba Ramdev smile

Meet Joachim Bergstrom, the Swedish ambassador to North Korea, whose love for yoga will make Baba Ramdev smile

When we think of North Korea, the first thing we think of is its supreme leader Kim Jong Un and the way he rules the nation. Barring the local news that is run by the government, we don’t see or hear much coming out of the state, which has the worst Press Freedom Index in the World, according to Reporters Without Borders.

Yet, in the midst of it, one man seems to be looking at the positive side of things. Joachim Bergstrom, the Swedish ambassador to the country, has been sharing images on his Twitter profile where he is seen doing yoga in the middle of the streets.


In one image he is seen doing a perfect headstand, while in another he is seen showcasing his skills next to the Taedong River in Pyongyang.

Bergstrom, who has been in North Korea as an ambassador since September 2019, came prepared to use the exercise regimen as a way to stay healthy and unwind in a country where foreigners and residents are under constant restraints, news agency Reuters reported.

On June 21, which is International Yoga Day, he even retweeted India in North Korea’s Twitter post that had a bunch of Indians in Pyongyang doing various yoga asanas.


Interestingly, Bergstrom is one of the few diplomats who chose to stay back in North Korea, even as a number of European diplomats chose to go back to their respective nations. He now spends time teaching yoga to people, the report added.

“Some get bewildered looks when I go upside down in head-stand,” he told Reuters by messaging app from Pyongyang. “Connecting – even peripherally – through folks smiling or talking about my yoga practice among themselves – has been a very rewarding experience,” he told Reuters.

Yoga, he says, has given him something to rely on during uncertain times that include power cuts, water shortages, limited communication and now, coronavirus lockdowns.


World Bank chief urges G20 to extend debt suspension through 2021

World Bank chief urges G20 to extend debt suspension through 2021

World Bank Group President David Malpass on Saturday urged the Group of 20 (G20) countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.

"I urge you to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) through end 2021 and commit to give the initiative as broad a scope as possible," Malpass made the remarks at the virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting, according to a statement.

"We've made a great deal of progress with DSSI in a short period of time, but more needs to be done," said the World Bank chief.

Malpass said that the pandemic has triggered the "deepest global recession in decades," and what may turn out to be "one of the most unequal" in terms of impact.

"For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling, and growth is deeply negative," he said. "Debt burdens -- already unsustainable for many countries -- are rising to crisis levels."

Even with these immediate steps -- a longer suspension of debt payments, a DSSI scope that includes more debt and more official bilateral creditors, participation by commercial creditors and the World Bank's large positive net flows -- many of the poorest countries won't be able to make the resulting debt burdens sustainable in the medium term, Malpass noted.

Photo taken on April 17, 2020 shows the World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C., the United States. (Photo by Ting Shen/Xinhua)

"The economic repercussions from the pandemic are expected to inflict lasting scars on growth through lower investment, erosion of human capital, and the retreat from global trade and supply linkages," he warned.

The World Bank president urged the G20 to "open the door to consultations" about the debt overhang itself and effective ways to reduce the net present value of both official bilateral and commercial debt for the poorest countries.

He noted that the debt resolution process should be improved.

"Looking longer term, creditors' rights frequently take precedence over the people in the debtor countries, adding to the difficulty of debt resolutions," he said. "The international community needs to recognize this imbalance if we are going to achieve effective debt resolutions or adjust the process in a way that encourages good outcomes."

Malpass also highlighted the importance of debt transparency, noting that creditors need to fully assess the debt sustainability of their potential borrowers, citizens need to be able to evaluate their leaders for the debt they take on, and borrowers need to design strategies based on a clear understanding of their debt.


Twitter removes video posted by Donald Trump after copyright notice by rock band Linkin Park

Twitter removes video posted by Donald Trump after copyright notice by rock band Linkin Park

Twitter today removed a video retweeted by USA President Donald Trump which included music from the American rock band Linkin Park, after the band sent a copyright notice to the microblogging site.

The band did not just stop at sending a notice for removal of the video and said that it does not authorise Trump's organisation to use any of their music.

The official Twitter handle of the band today came up with a statement: "Linkin Park did not and does not endorse Trump, nor authorize his organization to use any of our music. A cease and desist has been issued (sic)."


On Saturday, Trump retweeted the video originally posted by White House social media director Dan Scavino.

The micro-blogging platform removed the video after the band sent a copyright notice under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

"This media has been disabled in response to a report by the copyright owner," said Twitter.

Earlier this month, Twitter removed an image Trump tweeted, saying the image violated its privacy policy.

Trump's tweet showed a "meme" version of a photo taken by The New York Times in 2015. Trump tweeted along with the photo: "In reality they're not after me, they're after you. I'm just in the way".

After the NYT complained to Twitter, the micro-blogging platform removed the picture.

Late last month, Twitter flagged a tweet from Trump which promoted violence by saying if protesters tried to set up an "autonomous zone" in Washington, DC they would be met with "serious force".

That was the fourth time Twitter red-flagged Trump's tweet for glorifying violence or violating its policies.

Twitter earlier labeled a video tweeted by him which mocked CNN as manipulated media.

In May, Twitter labeled two Trump tweets that made false claims about mail-in ballots in California.

(With inputs from IANS)


Global COVID-19 cases rises to 14.2 million: Johns Hopkins University

Global COVID-19 cases rises to 14.2 million: Johns Hopkins University

Washington: The overall number of global COVID-19 cases has increased to over 14.2 million, while the deaths have topped to more than 601,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

As of Sunday morning, the total number of cases stood at 14,231,248, while the fatalities rose to 601,213, the University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed in its latest update. The US accounted for the world's highest number of infections and fatalities at 3,707,023 and 140,105, respectively, according to the CSSE.

Brazil came in the second place with 2,074,860 infections and 78,772 deaths. In terms of cases, India ranks third (1,038,716), and is followed by Russia (764,215), South Africa (350,879), Peru (349,500), Mexico (338,913), Chile (328,846), the UK (295,632), Iran (271,606), Pakistan (261,917), Spain (260,255), Saudi Arabia (248,416), Italy (244,216), Turkey (218,717), France (211,943), Germany (202,426), Bangladesh (202,066), Colombia (182,140), Argentina (122,524), Canada (111,875) and Qatar (106,308), the CSSE figures showed.

The other countries with over 10,000 deaths are the UK (45,358), Mexico (38,888), Italy (35,042), France (30,155), Spain (28,420), India (26,273), Iran (13,979), Peru (12,998) and Russia (12,228).


Twitter Mass Hack: How attackers managed to compromise 130 accounts

Twitter Mass Hack: How attackers managed to compromise 130 accounts

On Thursday, high-profile Twitter accounts including those of former President Barack Obama, Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden, Mike Bloomberg and a number of tech billionaires including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Tesla CEO Elon Musk were hacked and the attackers posted tweets soliciting donations via Bitcoin.

"Feeling grateful doubling all payments sent to my BTC address! You send $1,000, I send back $2,000! Only doing this for the next 30 minutes," read Elon Musk now-deleted tweet.

After an initial investigation, Twitter said that they detected a coordinated social engineering attack by people who successfully targeted some of their employees with access to internal systems and tools. This access was used to take control of many highly-visible accounts and tweet on their behalf.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said that it was a tough day for them and felt terrible that this happened.

Now, the company has revealed that the attackers targeted 130 Twitter accounts and were able to initiate a password reset, login to the account, and tweet from 45 of them.

"The attackers successfully manipulated a small number of employees and used their credentials to access Twitter’s internal systems, including getting through our two-factor protections. As of now, we know that they accessed tools only available to our internal support teams to target 130 Twitter accounts. For 45 of those accounts, the attackers were able to initiate a password reset, login to the account, and send Tweets. We are continuing our forensic review of all of the accounts to confirm all actions that may have been taken. In addition, we believe they may have attempted to sell some of the usernames," the company said.

However, the company said that the attackers were not able to view previous account passwords of the 130 accounts. Meanwhile, the attackers were also able to view personal information including email addresses and phone numbers.

"We are continuing our investigation of this incident, working with law enforcement, and determining longer-term actions we should take to improve the security of our systems. We have multiple teams working around the clock focused on this and on keeping the people who use Twitter safe and informed," the company added.


John Lewis, lion of the civil rights movement, dies at 80

John Lewis, lion of the civil rights movement, dies at 80

Atlanta: John Lewis, a lion of the civil rights movement whose bloody beating by Alabama state troopers in 1965 helped galvanise opposition to racial segregation, and who went on to a long and celebrated career in Congress, died. He was 80.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed Lewis'' passing late Friday night, calling him “one of the greatest heroes of American history.” “All of us were humbled to call Congressman Lewis a colleague, and are heartbroken by his passing,” Pelosi said. “May his memory be an inspiration that moves us all to, in the face of injustice, make ''good trouble, necessary trouble.''”


Lewis''s announcement in late December 2019 that he had been diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer — “I have never faced a fight quite like the one I have now,” he said — inspired tributes from both sides of the aisle, and an unstated accord that the likely passing of this Atlanta Democrat would represent the end of an era.

Lewis was the youngest and last survivor of the Big Six civil rights activists, a group led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. that had the greatest impact on the movement. He was best known for leading some 600 protesters in the Bloody Sunday march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma.


At age 25 — walking at the head of the march with his hands tucked in the pockets of his tan overcoat — Lewis was knocked to the ground and beaten by police. His skull was fractured, and nationally televised images of the brutality forced the country''s attention on racial oppression in the South.

Within days, King led more marches in the state, and President Lyndon Johnson soon was pressing Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act. The bill became law later that year, removing barriers that had barred Blacks from voting.


“John is an American hero who helped lead a movement and risked his life for our most fundamental rights; he bears scars that attest to his indefatigable spirit and persistence,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said after Lewis announced his cancer diagnosis.

Lewis joined King and four other civil rights leaders in organizing the 1963 March on Washington. He spoke to the vast crowd just before King delivered his epochal “I Have a Dream” speech.


A 23-year-old firebrand, Lewis toned down his intended remarks at the insistence of others, dropping a reference to a “scorched earth” march through the South and scaling back criticisms of President John Kennedy.

It was a potent speech nonetheless, in which he vowed: “By the forces of our demands, our determination and our numbers, we shall splinter the segregated South into a thousand pieces and put them together in an image of God and democracy.”

It was almost immediately, and forever, overshadowed by the words of King, the man who had inspired him to activism.

Lewis was born on Feb. 21, 1940, outside the town of Troy, in Pike County, Alabama. He grew up on his family''s farm and attended segregated public schools.

As a boy, he wanted to be a minister, and practiced his oratory on the family chickens. Denied a library card because of the color of his skin, he became an avid reader, and could cite obscure historical dates and details even in his later years.

He was a teenager when he first heard King preaching on the radio. They met when Lewis was seeking support to become the first Black student at Alabama''s segregated Troy State University.

He ultimately attended the American Baptist Theological Seminary and Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. He began organizing sit-in demonstrations at whites-only lunch counters and volunteering as a Freedom Rider, enduring beatings and arrests while traveling around the South to challenge segregation.

Lewis helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and was named its chairman in 1963, making him one of the Big Six at a tender age.

The others, in addition to King, were Whitney Young of the National Urban League; A. Philip Randolph of the Negro American Labor Council; James L. Farmer Jr., of the Congress of Racial Equality; and Roy Wilkins of the NAACP. All six met at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York to plan and announce the March on Washington.

The huge demonstration galvanized the movement, but success didn''t come quickly. After extensive training in nonviolent protest, Lewis and the Rev. Hosea Williams led demonstrators on a planned march of more than 50 miles from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama''s capital, on March 7, 1965. A phalanx of police blocked their exit from the Selma bridge.

Authorities shoved, then swung their truncheons, fired tear gas and charged on horseback, sending many to the hospital and horrifying much of the nation. King returned with thousands, completing the march to Montgomery before the end of the month.

Lewis turned to politics in 1981, when he was elected to the Atlanta City Council.

He won his seat in Congress in 1986 and spent much of his career in the minority. After Democrats won control of the House in 2006, Lewis became his party''s senior deputy whip, a behind-the-scenes leadership post in which he helped keep the party unified.

In an early setback for Barack Obama''s 2008 Democratic primary campaign, Lewis endorsed Hillary Rodham Clinton for the nomination.

Lewis switched when it became clear Obama had overwhelming Black support. Obama later honored Lewis with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and they marched hand in hand in Selma on the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday attack.




US officials have "lost their minds and gone mad" in their dealings with Beijing, China's foreign ministry said Friday, in the latest verbal salvo between the two superpowers.

Tensions between Washington and Beijing have run high this year and some of the most outspoken critics of China in American congress were this week hit with sanctions, days after the US imposed visa bans and asset freezes on several Chinese officials.

US Attorney General Bill Barr added fuel to the fire on Thursday when he accused Beijing of mounting an "economic blitzkrieg" to replace Washington as the world's pre-eminent power and spread its political ideology around the world.

But foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Barr and other American officials were criticising China to distract from domestic political problems.

"These people, for self-interest and political gain, do not hesitate to hijack domestic public opinion... to the point where they have lost their minds and gone mad," she said.

Hua added that China had no intention of challenging or replacing the US and said she hoped that Washington could "return to rationality" in its China policy.

"A sparrow cannot understand the ambition of a swan," she said.

"This is a serious misjudgement and misunderstanding of China's strategic intent."


Donald Trump 'loves people of India and China'; hopes for peace between two nations: White House

Donald Trump 'loves people of India and China'; hopes for peace between two nations: White House

US President Donald Trump has said that he wants to do everything possible to keep peace for the people of India and China, according to his spokesperson.

Over the past several weeks, the Trump administration has come out in support of India against China.

"He (Trump) said I love the people of India and I love the people of China and I want to do everything possible to keep the peace for the people," White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters at a news conference on Thursday.


She was responding to a question on Trump's message to India, which recently had a standoff with China in eastern Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control.

Earlier in the day, White House Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow described India as a great ally, saying President Trump is a great friend of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that India has been a great partner of the US.

"India has been a great partner... They are an important partner of ours. I have a great relationship with my foreign minister counterpart. We talked frequently about a broad range of issues. We talked about the conflict they had along the border with China. We've talked about the risk that emanates from the Chinese telecommunication infrastructure there," Pompeo told reporters in response to a question.

He was also critical of China on Wednesday.


Travelling in Europe, US National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien told reporters that China has been very aggressive with India.