SG’s Tamil community more than 2,000-year old


SG’s Tamil community more than 2,000-year old

Singapore: The Tamil community has been present in South East Asia and Singapore for more than 2,000 years, according to a new book which explores the lesser-known aspects of Tamil history and heritage.

Titled 'From Sojourners To Settlers - Tamils in Southeast Asia and Singapore', the book was launched on Saturday by Singapore's Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran at the Indian Heritage Centre.

It explores the lesser-known aspects of Tamil history and heritage in South East Asia and Singapore, examining evidence of Tamil connections with the region for more than 2,000 years.

Among evidence looked at are the inscriptions on the Singapore Stone, which some experts say date back to the 10th century, The Straits Times reported.




Lights on fishing nets save turtles, dolphins


Lights on fishing nets save turtles, dolphins

New Delhi: Placing lights on fishing nets reduces the chances of sea turtles and dolphins being caught by accident, new research shows. LED lights along the top of floating gillnets cut accidental “bycatch” of sea turtles by more than 70%, and that of small cetaceans (including dolphins and porpoises) by more than 66%.

The study, by the University of Exeter and Peruvian conservation organisation ProDelphinus, looked at small-scale vessels departing from three Peruvian ports between 2015 and 2018, and found the lights didn’t reduce the amount of fish caught from “target species” (ie what the fishers wanted to catch).

The findings support previous research which suggested LED lights reduce bycatch of seabirds in gillnets by about 85%. Gillnets, which can be either anchored or move with the ocean currents, are designed to entangle or snare fish by the gills, and are the largest component of small-scale fisheries in many countries.

“Gillnet fisheries often have high bycatch rates of threatened marine species such as sea turtles, whales, dolphins and seabirds,” said lead author Alessandra Bielli, who carried out analyses as part of her masters research at the Centre for Ecology and Conservation at Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall.

“This could lead to declines in the populations of these non-target species — yet few solutions to reduce gillnet bycatch have been developed. Sensory cues — in this case LED lights — are one way we might alert such species to the presence of fishing gear in the water.”

The researchers placed lights every 10m along the float line of 864 gillnets, pairing each with an unlit net to compare the results.

“The dramatic reduction in bycatch of sea turtles and cetaceans in illuminated nets shows how this simple, relatively low-cost technique could help these species and allow fishers to fish more sustainably. Given the success we have had, we hope other fisheries with bycatch problems will also try illuminating their fishing nets,” said Exeter PhD graduate Dr Jeffrey Mangel, of Peruvian NGO ProDelphinus.




Key risk factors for teenage suicide identified


Key risk factors for teenage suicide identified

Canberra: A new Australian research has found that young people who report suicidal thoughts along with experiencing auditory hallucinations and psychological distresses are at the greatest risk of future suicide attempts.

The study by researchers from QIMR Berghofer and The University of Queensland’s Centre for Clinical Research examined risk factors that prompted 12 to 17-year-olds to transition from thinking about hurting themselves to acting on those thoughts. The research findings have been published in the international journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica.

Primary researcher and PhD candidate Emily Hielscher, from QIMR Berghofer’s Child and Youth Mental Health Research Group, said the study gathered psychological, social, and behavioural data from more than 1600 Australian high school students.

“Of those adolescents, 216 reported experiencing suicidal thoughts at the start of the study, and they were interviewed 12 months after that time to see who actually went on to attempt suicide,” Ms Hielscher said.

“Interestingly, we found that adolescents who said they’d been diagnosed with depression and had experienced stressful life events, such as bullying, were not at significantly increased risk of suicide attempts. These findings support other studies that show such factors as depression and impulsivity are not good at predicting who will go on to transition from suicidal thoughts to attempts.”

—ANI




Donald Trump honours military dog that helped kill Al Baghdadi


Donald Trump honours military dog that helped kill Al Baghdadi

Washington: US President Donald Trump has honoured Conan, the specially trained "hero dog" who helped American commandoes in the mission that led to the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr-al Baghdadi.

Baghdadi, 48, died in October after the world's most wanted terrorist was chased by the US special forces along with military working dogs. He blew up his suicide vest following the US raid on his compound in Syria's Idlib province.

The dog, who was injured during the mission that killed Baghdadi, visited the White House on Monday and met President Trump in his Oval Office.

It later appeared before the White House press corps in the Rose Garden along with Trump, the First Lady Melania and Vice President Mike Pence.

 
 
 



Naya Pakistan? Misogynist husband kills crime reporter to prevent her from working


Naya Pakistan? Misogynist husband kills crime reporter to prevent her from working

Lahore: A 27-year-old female Pakistani journalist was killed here on Monday allegedly by her husband, also a scribe, for not quitting her job.

The couple got married seven months ago but then the relations turned sour soon, according to an FIR.

Urooj Iqbal was associated with a Urdu daily and was entering her office situated in Qila Gujjar Singh in central Lahore when her husband Dilawar Ali shot her in the head, leaving her dead, Dost Mohammad, a senior police officer said.

Though Urooj was taken to hospital, it was too late.

"We have registered an FIR against the victim's husband working in another Urdu daily, on the complaint of Urooj's brother Yasir Iqbal," Muhammad said.

In the FIR, Iqbal said her sister had a love marriage with Ali seven months ago but soon after their relation turned sour over various domestic issues, including Ali's repeated demand of quitting her job.

He said that Ali used to torture Urooj over the issue and recently had got a complaint lodged against Ali.

However, no action was taken by the police, he said.

Urooj, a crime reporter, was living in a room adjacent to the newspaper office in the same building after her relation with her husband deteriorated.

Police said it has obtained the CCTV footage and had sent it for forensic analysis.

 
 
 



Naya Pakistan, same old begging: Islamabad asks for Rs 294 crore loan from China for CPEC


Naya Pakistan, same old begging: Islamabad asks for Rs 294 crore loan from China for CPEC
 



3 slain Khalistani leaders, including Bhindranwale in Kartarpur corridor video released by Pakistan


3 slain Khalistani leaders, including Bhindranwale in Kartarpur corridor video released by Pakistan

New Delhi: A video song released by the Pakistan government welcoming Sikh pilgrims to visit Kartarpur Sahib has created a controversy as it has pictures of three Khalistani separatist leaders, including Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale in the background in one part of the clip.

The video, released by Pakistan's Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on Monday, has posters of Bhindranwale, Major General Shabeg Singh and Amrik Singh Khalsa, all of whom were killed during Indian Army's Operation Blue Star at the Golden Temple in Amritsar in June 1984.

Bhindranwale was the head of Sikh religious sect Damdami Taksal. Singh was an Indian Army general, who joined the Khalistani movement in 1984 after he was stripped of his rank and court-martialled on charges of corruption just before his retirement.

Khalsa was a Khalistani student leader who headed the now-banned All India Sikh Students Federation (AISSD).

Earlier, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had raised concerns that Pakistan could use misuse the corridor to revive Sikh militancy in Punjab. Several Indian intelligence agencies and experts have also questioned Pakistan's intentions of opening the route.

A fringe Khalistani group based in the US called 'Sikhs for Justice' is attempting to promote the so-called 'Referendum 2020' movement by using the corridor with tacit support from Pakistan's spy agency ISI.

The video has surfaced just days before the Kartarpur Corridor is slated to be inaugurated. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the corridor on the Indian side on November 8, his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan will open the route on the other side the following day.

India and Pakistan had, on October 24, signed an agreement on the modalities for operationalising Kartarpur Sahib Corridor, paving the way for its inauguration ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.

The corridor will facilitate visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib. The route will connect Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab's Gurdaspur district with Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan.

 
 
 



Never happening in India: Microsoft Japan's three-day weekend leads to 40% rise in productivity


Never happening in India: Microsoft Japan's three-day weekend leads to 40% rise in productivity

While Japan struggles to tackle the problem of excessive work affecting employees’ health, the US tech giant Microsoft tested out a four-day work week in its Japan offices and found as a result employees were not only happier – but significantly more productive.

The Japanese unit of the US IT giant closed its offices every Friday in August, giving all 2,300 full-time workers special leave. It also restricted meetings to a maximum of 30 minutes, and encouraged online chats as an alternative to face-to-face communications. The number of participants at meetings was limited to five, and workers were also encouraged to use online communication instead of emails, it said. The results were positive, with sales per employee rising almost 40 per cent in August from a year earlier, electricity consumption down by a quarter and paper usage being cut in half.

 
 

The trial, called the Work-Life Choice Challenge 2019, was an attempt to provide a better working environment through reduced working time.

In an attempt to promote work-life balance, the company also offered assistance for employee’s travel expenses and family vacations. The results were positive, with sales per employee rising almost 40 per cent in August from a year earlier, electricity consumption down by a quarter and paper usage being cut in half.

With the trial hailed as a success by 92 per cent of its staff, the company said that they are ready to launch a second Work-Life Choice Challenge. It plans to launch a similar programme this winter -- but won't offer special leave. Instead, employees will be encouraged to use their existing holiday days. The programme comes as Japan's government pushes for more "flexible work styles," urging business to accept telecommuting, different part-time schedules and off-peak commuting.

 
 
 



Pakistan complied with 36 of 40 FATF parameters: APG


Pakistan complied with 36 of 40 FATF parameters: APG

Islamabad: The Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) has published its report on money-laundering and terror-financing in Pakistan which says that Islamabad has largely but partially complied with 36 of the 40 parameters set by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) at the time of the country's inclusion in the grey list.

The long-awaited 228-page report, titled "Mutual Evaluation Report 2019" was published on Saturday, a week before the FATF - the international money-laundering and terror-financing watchdog - is set to announce its decision to remove or retain Pakistan in its grey list, Geo News reported on Monday.

The repor would provide a basis for the FATF to make its decision in an upcoming Paris meeting scheduled for October 13-18, keeping in view Pakistan's compliance with the parameters it had set earlier.

However, it pointed out that Islamabad only missed four of the total 40 parameters that it was to follow in order to be effectively removed from the list.

The report said Pakistan's performance on international cooperation was moderate.

It also stressed on the country's weakness pertaining to risk, policy and coordination; supervision; preventive measures; legal persons and arrangements; financial intelligence; money-laundering (ML) investigations and prosecution; confiscation; terror-financing (TF) investigations and prosecution; TF preventive measures and financial sanctions; proliferation-financing (PF) financial sanctions.

Last month, a high-level Pakistani delegation led by Economic Affairs Minister Hammad Azhar had attended a two-day meeting with the APG to discuss Islamabad's progress on the FATF action plan.

Earlier in August it was reported that out of 40 universal recommendations of FATF, Pakistan's rating was partially and non-compliant on 30 recommendations and performance was also below par on 10 as against 11 Immediate Outcomes, The News International said.

Out of total 11 Immediate Outcomes, only on one indicator effectiveness was found moderately effective and on rest of 10, the rating was ineffective.

The FATF review had placed Pakistan into grey list in June 2018 and had given 27 action plans till September 2019 to comply for coming out from the grey list.

This upcoming review of the FATF meeting in Paris will now decide the fate of the country with three possibilities -- excluding it from grey and put into green list, continuing it into grey list with extended period of nine to 12 months and thirdly in worst case scenario putting the country into blacklist, having dire consequences for the country's economy.

 
 
 



Police fire tear gas as large crowds defy Hong Kong mask ban


Police fire tear gas as large crowds defy Hong Kong mask ban

Hong Kong: Hong Kong was rocked by fresh violence Sunday as tens of thousands hit the streets to defy a ban on face masks, sparking clashes with police, street fights and vandalism across the strife-torn city.

Large crowds marched through torrential rain in peaceful but unsanctioned rallies on both sides of Victoria Harbour, condemning the government for deploying emergency powers to ban face masks at public gatherings.

But violence erupted as police dispersed crowds with tear gas, and then battled hardcore protesters in multiple locations plunging the finance hub into chaos once more.

"Two girls were hit by the car and one girl was trapped between the car and a shop," a witness, who gave his surname as Wong, told AFP, adding the crowd managed to push the car off the wounded woman.

An AFP photographer saw volunteer medics treating both the driver and the injured women before paramedics and police arrived. Protesters smashed up the taxi.

Earlier, a crowd ransacked nearby government offices, while multiple Chinese banks and subway stations were vandalised across the city.

Activists have staged three straight days of flashmob rallies and sprees of vandalism after Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam outlawed face coverings by protesters, invoking colonial-era emergency powers not used for half a century.

 
 
 



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