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Merkel excused from standing for Indian, German national anthem during ceremonial reception

New Delhi: India has accepted a request by the German government to allow Chancellor Angela Merkel to remain seated while the national anthems of both countries are played during a ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Friday as she is suffering from a medical condition.

It is learnt that certain provisions of the order relating to the National Anthem of India will be invoked to allow Merkel to be seated when the national anthem is played.

Merkel, during her two-day visit here, will hold extensive talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on further expanding overall bilateral ties. Chancellor Merkel's difficulties in standing without support are known and lately, she has been seen seated at ceremonial events, both at home and abroad, which would have normally required her to stand.

The exemption as per the order is being invoked based on a request from the German side to accommodate the Chancellor's wish to be accorded the ceremonial welcome, it is learnt.


Mumbaikars to tavel in style, Mumbai to Surat cruise service likely to begin on November 5

Mumbai’s cruise service will soon add another route to its service. After Mumbai to Goa, Mumbaikars can now take a cruise from Mumbai to Surat as well. The new cruise is supposed to start on 5th November.

The Mumbai Maiden Cruise Ship will be operated by SSR Marine Services. The ship is likely to embark on its maiden voyage from the Bandra-Worli Sealink on 5th November. The cruise service is expected to be open for Mumbaikars every week. The cruise company plans to charge Rs 3,000-5,000 for one passenger.

The ship will depart from Bandra-Worli Sealink every Thursday around 5 pm and arrive at Hazira in Surat on Friday around 9 am. The ship will return to Mumbai the same day. It will leave Hazira in Surat the same evening around 5 pm and arrive at Bandra-Worli Sealink the next day at 9 am.

Mumbai currently has a cruise service to Goa and according to Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT), the response has been great. Mumbai has managed to boost its cruise tourism in the last three years by developing the necessary infrastructure.

According to MbPT data, 2.32 lakh tourists from Mumbai went on cruises in 2019, both domestic and international. According to an official, by 2021, Mumbai will have the first international cruise terminal.


‘We are not Muslim-hating Nazis’: Germany’s European MP rejects media’s labels amid J&K visit

Lars Patrick Berg, one of the 23 European MPs to visit Jammu and Kashmir as part of an unofficial delegation rejected the view that they were a group of ‘Muslim-hating’ rightwingers.

He told Hindustan Times that he didn’t understand where the impression of them being ‘Muslim-hating Nazis’. He told HT: “There are those who live by the law and those who don’t, in every society.

Contrary to popular perception as in the media you mention, conservative groups in the European Parliament are not Muslim-hating Nazis. We are concerned, most of all, with the problem of finding a common ‘global cultural identity’.

There is globalization but no global culture yet. This has nothing to do with either racism or nationalism. It’s not a fair assessment that such media are making of us.”

The top police and civil officials of the Jammu and Kashmir administration on Tuesday told a delegation of 23 EU MPs that people have been yearning for peace but the terrorists have been continuously threatening them by firing bullets.

During an interaction with the law makers from different European countries, DGP Dilbag Singh said the situation in Jammu and Kashmir has been peaceful and the security forces have been handling the law and order effectively and "most importantly in a humane manner".

In the last 84 days, not a single life has been lost, he told the EU parliamentarians, who are on a two-day visit to assess the ground situation in the state.

On August 5, the Union government had revoked the state's special status under Article 370 and split it into two Union Territories of J&K and Laddakh, which will come into existence on October 31.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Secretary B V R Subrahmanyamgave also gave a detailed presentation to the delegation on the overall situation in the state, besides answering some questions by its members.

When an EU MP asked how the administration has been handling fake news, Inspector General of Police S P Pani said one of the reasons why the administration has shut down the internet service was to check the circulation of fake news.

"We don't want fake news and rumours. We have been taking up such cases with the Twitter and Facebook after presenting evidence and asking them to remove the disturbing contents, fake tweets and posts.

"But many a time they ask us to route the requests through the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) which is a time consuming affairs," he told the EU law makers.

The Twitter and Facebook are based in the United States. Through MLAT, law enforcement agencies of different countries help each other in preventing crime and arrest criminals.

Principal Secretary and JK administration spokesperson Rohit Kansal apprised the parliamentarians of the recent local body elections and the significance of removing Article 370.

The Article 370 was discriminatory, he said. Kansal said there were 98 incidents of intimidation by militants to people and more than 350 times, terrorists threatened people through posters.

The team of EU MPs also interacted with members of the public, including the newly-elected panchayat members and councillors, at a five-star hotel here.

As the winter chill settled over the city, some of the delegation members also had boating in the famous Dal Lake here.


Democratic Party unveils Trump impeachment procedure, next phase will be open hearings

Washington: The opposition Democratic party, which enjoys majority in the House of Representatives, has unveiled impeachment procedures against US President Donald Trump, which the White House termed an "illegitimate sham".

"The resolution put forward by Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi confirms that House Democrats' impeachment (procedure) has been an illegitimate sham from the start as it lacked any proper authorisation by a House vote," White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said on Tuesday.

The remark came after Rules Committee Chairman James P McGovern introduced a resolution providing a path forward as the House of Representatives prepares to begin the public-facing phase of its impeachment inquiry into the conduct of Trump. Mark up to this resolution has been scheduled for Wednesday.

"There is mounting evidence that the president abused his power and betrayed our national security while compromising the integrity of America's elections," McGovern said.

"The House impeachment inquiry has collected extensive evidence and testimony, and soon the American people will hear from witnesses in an open setting. The resolution introduced today in the House Rules Committee will provide that pathway forward," heads of four House committees said in a joint statement.

They are Congressmen Adam Schiff, the Chairman of Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence; Jerrod Nadler, the Chairman of Judiciary Committee; Eliot Engel, the Chairman of Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Carolyn Maloney, the Acting Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform.

They said the resolution provides rules for the format of open hearings in the House Intelligence Committee, including staff-led questioning of witnesses, and it authorizes public release of deposition transcripts.

"The resolution also establishes procedures for the transfer of evidence to the Judiciary Committee as it considers potential articles of impeachment, and it sets forth due process rights for the president and his counsel in the Judiciary Committee proceedings," the four top Democratic leaders said.

"The evidence we have already collected paints the picture of a president who abused his power by using multiple levers of the government to press a foreign country to interfere in the 2020 election," they said.

Following in the footsteps of previous impeachment inquiries, the next phase will move from closed depositions to open hearings where the American people will learn firsthand about the president's "misconduct", they said.

Reacting sharply, the White House press secretary said, "It continues this scam by allowing Chairman Schiff, who repeatedly lies to the American people, to hold a new round of hearings, still without any due process for the president."

Grisham alleged the White House is barred from participating at all, until after Schiff conducts two rounds of "one-sided hearings to generate a biased report" for the Judiciary Committee.

Even then, the White House's rights remain undefined, unclear, and uncertain because those rules still haven't been written, she alleged, adding, "This resolution does nothing to change the fundamental fact that House Democrats refuse to provide basic due process rights to the administration."

Later, justifying the impeachment procedure, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said consistent with its historic role, the judiciary panel will operate under equally serious procedures to govern its part of the House's ongoing impeachment inquiry.

"These procedures confer, among other things, rights for the minority and for the President equal to those provided during the Nixon and Clinton inquiries. This committee is committed to executing its part of the House's ongoing impeachment investigation with the highest fealty to the Constitution," Nadler said.

In a statement, the House Judiciary Committee said the procedures offer Trump several protection including that his counsel will receive copies of any statements of information and related documents and other evidentiary material furnished to the members of the committee.

The president and his counsel may attend the presentation of evidence by majority and minority committee counsel and the counsel may ask questions during the presentation, it said adding his counsel may respond to the presentation of evidence.

The president's counsel may submit written summaries of additional testimony or evidence the President wishes the Judiciary Committee to consider. The president and his counsel may attend all hearings of the Judiciary Committee, including any held in executive session, it said.

"The resolution permits the minority to issue subpoenas with the concurrence of the chair or authorised by a committee vote. Contrary to the claims of the president and Republican leadership, the minority did not have unilateral subpoena power in the Nixon and Clinton impeachment proceedings," the statement said.

Four top House Republicans, Whip Steve Scalise, Leader Kevin McCarthy, Conference Chair Liz Cheney, Ranking Member of the House Rules Committee Congressman Tom Cole and Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee Congressman Mac Thornberry termed the impeachment process "tainted", contending it "neglects real problems such as funding the military and lowering drug prices".

"We still wait to see what Speaker Pelosi is going to file. But the bottomline is that she admitted defeat in this failed process - this Soviet-style impeachment process that Adam Schiff is conducting," Scalise said.


Who is Madi Sharma - the powerbroker who has access to PMO and arranged Kashmir trip

23 members of the European parliament landed in Srinagar on the 29th of October to visit Kashmir, questions about the impromptu guests of India started flying around. The visit was neither initiated by the European Government nor the parliamentarians were invited by the Indian government.

According to a member of the Liberal Democratic Party in the United Kingdom, the meeting was organized by the International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies. However, Sreenivasan Jain revealed in a tweet that the invitation was sent by a woman named Madi Sharma.

Madi Sharma has claimed to be writing the letter on behalf of the Women’s Economic and Social Think Tank. Her invitation talked about“a prestigious VIP meeting with the Prime Minister of India, His Excellency Narendra Modi”. The letter entailed the details of the visit as “The meeting with the Prime Minister is scheduled for the 28th of October, with a visit to Kashmir on 29th and a press conference on 30th.”

The connection with the International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies is the institute’s mention in the letter as the trip’s sponsor.

International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies

The International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies, founded by Dr. Govind Narain Srivastava in 1980, claims to have “provided a platform to voice the viewpoint of billions of people of the third world” on its website as their mission statement.

The website has its founder’s name under the leaders' section of the website, weirdly enough having existed for several decades, it is the only name as a leader on the website. Dr. Govind had also started the newspaper, New Delhi Times which apparently has a wide global reach. Dr. Govind died in 1999.

The institute has recently established a Human Rights center that covers “rights of minorities and ethnic groups”, “rights of the women and child”, sustainable development, “right to life, Democracy and Human Rights”.

Apart from five regional offices, the institute has offices in New York, Geneva and Vienna that supposedly coordinates with the United Nations. The governing body of the Institute, the website says, consists of “parliamentarians, academicians, experts, diplomats and media persons”.

Madi Sharma

Madi Sharma, the woman who sent out invitations to the EU MPs. Madi has written for the New Delhi Times with the byline ‘EU Correspondent’. She has written on various international issues and trade policies, her bylines for the newspaper also read “Founder, Women’s Economic and Social Think Tank (WESTT)”.

The Women’s Economic Forum’s website describes Madi Sharma as “International Business Broker, Education Entrepreneur; speaker” and the leader of the Madi group. Madi’s Women’s Economic and Social Think Tank is a part of the Madi group conglomerate, “international private and social enterprises and NGOs”.

It claims to be “a leading women’s think tank with global dimensions, focussing on the economic, environmental and social development of women. At a political level it is also lobbies to raise awareness on key issues but never for commercial gain”.


'Mumbai at risk of being wiped out by rising seas'

New York: A new research has found that rising seas could affect three times more people by 2050 than previously thought and India's financial capital, Mumbai, is at the risk of being 'wiped out'.

The New York Times has reported that the "authors of a paper published on Tuesday developed a more accurate way of calculating land elevation based on satellite readings, a standard way of estimating the effects of sea-level rise over large areas, and found that the previous numbers were far too optimistic."

The research paper was produced by Climate Central, a science organization based in New Jersey, and published in the journal 'Nature Communications'.

However, the projections don't account for future population growth or land lost to coastal erosion. According to the new research, some 150 million people are now living on land that will be below the high-tide line by midcentury.

Much of India's Financial Capital, Mumbai is at risk of being wiped out, the new projections suggest. Built on what was once a series of islands, the city's historic downtown core is particularly vulnerable, it said.

The outlet quoted Dina Ionesco of the International Organization for Migration as saying that -- Overall research shows, that countries should start preparing now for more citizens to relocate internally.

International Organization for Migration is an intergovernmental group that coordinates actions on migrations and development.

"We've been trying to ring the alarm bells. We know that it's coming. There is a little modern precedent for this scale of population movement," Ionesco was quoted as saying.


Saffron allies in game of thrones; Brinkmanship by BJP and Sena raises doubts on govt formation

Mumbai: The ongoing brinkmanship by the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Shiv Sena has put a serious question mark on the formation of a new government in the state. Confident of the Sena's support, willy-nilly, the BJP has clearly rejected the idea of giving the CM post to its partner.

The BJP and the Sena, which won 105 and 56 seats respectively, in the recently concluded state assembly polls, are locked in a bitter battle over power-sharing. The BJP national president Amit Shah, who was scheduled to visit Mumbai on Wednesday and meet Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, has now called off his Mumbai visit due to the impasse. On Tuesday, the Sena called off a 4pm meeting with the BJP. The meeting was to be attended by Sena leaders Sanjay Raut and Subhash Desai and BJP leaders Bhupendra Yadav and Prakash Javadekar.

"We are confident that the Shiv Sena will go with us. Neither the BJP nor the Sena are exploring any other options to form the government. The Shiv Sena was not promised the CM's post for two- and-a-half years at the time of the alliance formation before the Lok Sabha poll. They might wish to have the CM post for five years," Fadnavis told reporters at his official residence, 'Varsha'.

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already announced the name of the new CM and the meeting will only be a formality," he said, in an apparent reference to Modi's statement in the run-up to the polls that Fadnavis would lead the coalition as CM. The BJP's newly elected legislators will meet at 1pm on Wednesday, to elect their new leader. This meeting will be attended by Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and the party's national vice president Avinash Khanna, informed BJP state chief Chandrakant Patil.

According to sources, Fadnavis claims he will be the next CM but the party will take its time to name its CM face. Fadnavis also ruled out the 1995 formula for cabinet berth sharing. "No such decision was taken, nor did we receive any such proposal from the Sena," he claimed. Speaking on the proposal to make Aaditya Thackeray deputy CM, he clarified that he had no reservations about the issue. "This decision has to be taken by the Sena and I will happily work with Aaditya," he said.

According to a senior leader present at the CM's meeting, "The Shiv Sena does not have any choice. The NCP has already made it clear it will not support the Sena. At all costs, they will have to join us."

Formula acceptable to both

The BJP is confident that the Sena will leverage the situation to extract maximum advantage. BJP sources claim the party will give the Sena the deputy CM post. "We are ready to give the Sena power, the public works department, housing and public health as compromise, for their support," said a BJP leader.

When asked how the BJP could agree to share cabinet berths equally when it has double the strength of the Sena, Fadnavis said, "We will distribute these berths on merit and the issue will be resolved after the process of support from Independents and smaller parties is complete. This support becomes crucial for the future legislative council and the Rajya Sabha election. Both, the BJP and Sena will be happy after seat-sharing," the CM said. He also hinted that the cabinet berth sharing would not be an exact 50:50 but the BJP would have more cabinet berths. "During the seat-sharing process, the Shiv Sena was insistent on settling for not less than 50 per cent assembly seats. But finally, they agreed to 124 -- 20 seats less than their 50 per cent demand. This time too, they will stretch out matters up to a point. But we are confident, we will manage to get them to join us in government," another BJP leader said.

Most possible scenarios

Being the single largest party, the BJP can stake claim to form the government. It will try its best to win the trust vote. It will try to get the support of all Independents and ensure that some legislators from the Sena, Congress and the NCP will abstain from voting, thus reducing the effective strength of the House. BJP MP Sanjay Kakade told a television channel on Tuesday, around 45 newly elected Shiv Sena MLAs in

Maharashtra were keen on government formation by joining hands with the BJP.

"Of the 56 MLAs, there are 45 who have expressed their interest in government formation with the BJP. They are calling and asking us to induct them into the government," Kakade told the TV channel. Kakade's statement was a hint that the BJP may not shy from engineering defections in the Shiv Sena to form the government.

The second option before the BJP will be to get support from the NCP. The NCP has 54 legislators and in 2014, it had helped the BJP win the floor test by remaining neutral during voting. The BJP can offer a key portfolio to Supriya Sule in the Modi government and ensure protection in ongoing Enforcement Directorate cases against Praful Patel and Pawar family members. If all these options fail, then the second largest party, the Shiv Sena can stake its claim and the NCP and the Congress can support the Sena in forming the government.

Drought of political experience: 'We did not get drenched in the rain'

"We were too politically inexperienced to get drenched in the rain," admitted the CM, referring to the NCP chief Sharad Pawar whose speech in the rain proved to be a game-changer. He was fielding a question on why the BJP-Sena could not win more than 220 seats. He also targeted the Sena leader Sanjay Raut, who is constantly criticising the BJP through the Sena mouthpiece, Saamna.

"We are unhappy over the way we are being criticised through Saamna. It is not fair to work with the BJP in the government and at the same time, to criticise the government too. The Sena should show courage and write against the Congress and the NCP. This is putting a question mark on their credibility," he said, slamming the Sena and Raut. "We do not pay any attention to Raut," he said.

"Though the BJP-Sena did not pass this exam (assembly election) with merit, we managed a first class-first," said Fadnavis.


6 labourers slain in Jammu&Kashmir, over visit of EU delegates

No "Maha Janadesh" this time, rap on knuckles of arrogant rulers: Shiv Sena

Mumbai: A day after the poll results in Maharashtra, where the BJP put up a below-par performance, the Shiv Sena on Friday took a dig at its senior ally, saying there was no "maha janadesh" and the outcome was in fact a rap on the knuckles for those high on "arrogance of power".

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had toured over 200 constituencies, out of the total 288, during his 'Maha Janadesh Yatra' (massive mandate march) ahead of the October 21 polling. On the eve of results on October 24, Fadnavis had talked about the saffron alliance winning 200-plus seats.

In an editorial in its mouthpiece "Saamana", the Sena, which also saw a drop in its 2014 tally, said the mandate has rejected the notion that elections can be swept by engineering defections and splitting opposition parties.

Analysing the poll results, which saw main opposition parties the NCP and Congress improving their tally, the editorial said the outcome shows opponentscan'tbe finished in politics.

The Marathi daily said the "BJP broke the NCP" in such a manner in run-up to elections that people wondered if the Sharad Pawar-led party had any future.

"But the NCP bounced back crossing the 50-seat mark, while a leaderless Congress won 44 seats. The results were a warning to rulers not to show arrogance of power... its a rap on their knuckles," said the Uddhav Thackeray-led party.

"The BJP tally came down from 122 (in 2014) to 105 (in 2019), whereas the Shiv Sena's tally also saw a decrease (from 63 to 56). "Twenty-five seats have gone to other smaller parties.

This shows people have said beware...if you show arrogance of power...," the editorial said. The polls did not deliver "maha janadesh" (massive mandate), the newspaper said.

The Sena organ said the mandate has rejected the BJP's thinking that elections can be swept by engineering defections and splitting opposition parties.

People have also taught a lesson to turncoats, it said, referring to large-scale desertions from the NCP- Congress to the ruling camp.

Referring to the shock bypoll defeat of Udayanraje Bhosale, who defected to the BJP after winning the Satara Lok Sabha seat on NCP ticket in May, the Sena said "the Satara "gaadi" (seat of power) has respect because of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

The people of Satara, where bypoll was held along with assembly elections, have shown they will not allow political opportunism in the name of Shivaji Maharaj, the editorial said.

This is a personal defeat of Bhosale, a direct descendant of the legendary 17th century Maratha warrior king, the party said. The editorial wondered how the NCP-Congress got so many seats despite the BJP and the Shiv Sena firming up a pre- poll alliance.

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah addressed several rallies on Article 370. Modi addressed a rally in Satara for Udayanraje.

"Chief Minister Fadnavis declared that since Udayanraje is now in the BJP, Chhatrapati Shivaji's blessings are with the BJP. Still Satara defeated Udayanraje," it said. The Sena said Pawar proved more powerful than the BJP chief minister.

"There is a lesson to be learnt from this defeat (in Satara, where the NCP won). Fadnavis said he was a powerful wrestler but Sharad Pawar proved more powerful.

"Maharashtra doesn't accept arrogance of power," the editorial said and added, "Our feet were always on the ground." The BJP-Sena combine bagged around 160 seats in Maharashtra, way below their expectation of crossing the 200- mark.


Sound of silence: Rahul stays mum despite encouraging Haryana, Maharashtra verdict

New Delhi: The results of the two states are out and the Congress has improved its tally. All have spoken about the results, but Rahul Gandhi is yet to react.

In Haryana, Congress did an impressive performance, forcing the Bharatiya Janata Party to see a hung Assembly while in Maharashtra, the Congress improved its performance.

Sonia Gandhi has spoken to former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. Priyanka Gandhi in Rae bareli said she is happy with the results. But, former Congress President Rahul Gandhi did not give any reaction.

His twitter is silent on this issue. Last, he tweeted was on October 23 on the issue of the merger of MTNL and BSNL. While he met Sonia Gandhi on Thursday evening to discuss the results. He also met D.K. Shivakumar at 10 Janpath who is on bail.

Rahul Gandhi is the only Gandhi scion who campaigned in the elections. A party leader said that the results are encouraging as public mood seems to be changing, but may be Rahul Gandhi is a bit cautious this time.

The results may impact the internal functioning of the party. In the elections, it was witnessed that veterans led the fight while the younger generation remained aloof and in some cases even became hostile.

Ashok Tanwar left the party in Haryana, Milind Deora was in hibernation, while Deora congratulated Pawar and Hooda, but he was not active in the Maharashtra Assembly elections.