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Leaders urge masses to come out and vote keeping Covid precautions in mind on Day 1 of Bihar polls


Leaders from all across the political spectrum have urged voters to vote in the Bihar Assembly elections as the polling for the first phase of the Bihar elections begins on Wednesday.

The fate of over a thousand candidates will be decided in three phases of the vote for 243 seats in the state Assembly.

For the first phase, voting for 71 seats will be cast in the state.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed to people to maintain social distancing and follow the coronavirus protocols that have been laid down.

PM said, “I urge all voters to ensure their participation in this festival of democracy while taking precautions against Covid-19.”

 

Home Minister Amit Shah urged the people of Bihar to come out a large number and cast their vote.

 

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national president JP Nadda also urged voters and said, “The first phase of voting for the Bihar assembly elections is going on today. Your opinion is your greatest strength in a democracy. I request all voters to take part in this mahaparva of democracy keeping in mind the precautions related to Covid. Voting first, then refreshments!

 

 

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also urged the voters to take part in the elections.

 

Union Minister of Law Ravi Shankar Prasad who hails from Bihar also urged his fellow citizens to cast votes.

 

The first phase of the polls is scheduled on October 28 while the second and third phases will take place on November 3 and November 7 respectively. The results will be announced on November 10.




‘Who gave permission to become General Dyer’: Tejashwi Yadav on Munger violence


A violent clash had broken out between the devotees and police in Munger during the immersion of Goddess Durga.

The Mahagathbandhan led by Rashtriya Janata Dal’s (RJD) Tejashwi Yadav slammed the Nitish Kumar government for the violence in Munger and the law and order situation in the state.

Tejashwi Yadav has requested a High Court-monitored probe in the clash that broke out between devotees and police late on Monday night in which a man died and several were injured.

The RJD leader said, “This double-engine govt definitely had a role in it. Who gave permission to become General Dyer? What has Sushil Modi done except for tweeting.”

Further sharpening the attack on the government, Congress leader Randeep Surjewala said that there is a ‘Nirday Kumar’ and ‘Nirmam Modi’ government in Bihar.

A violent clash had broken out between the devotees and police in Munger during the immersion of Goddess Durga. The clash broke out over a delay in the immersion of idols leading to lathi-charge, stone-pelting and firing.

A video showing the police lathi charging a group of devotees has been widely circulated on social media. A disturbing image of a young man dead on the ground has also been doing the rounds on social media that has sparked anger in the area.

According to police during the immersion, some ‘anti-social elements’ targeted the policemen had thrown stones at them. The police claim that the group was delaying the process of immersion and this lead to the clash. The stone-throwing led to a lathicharge and when the situation escalated, the police reportedly also fired.

This incident that took place just on the eve of the first phase of polling has drawn political reactions. Lok Janshakti Party leader Chirag Paswan tweeted, “A 302 (murder) case should be registered against the Munger Police. Firing on devotees shows Nitish’s is a Talibani regime. The local SP should be suspended immediately and an FIR registered against her under section 302 (murder).”

Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi called the incident “unfortunate” and said the Election Commission should investigate and take action.




US self-help guru sentenced to 120 years in prison for running cult-like organization of sex slaves


Followers signed up for $5,000, five-day self-help courses, but some were then financially and sexually exploited.

A “self-help” guru convicted of running a cult-like organization of sex slaves who were branded with his initials was sentenced to 120 years in prison by a New York judge Tuesday.

The effective life sentence for Keith Raniere, 60, comes after he was found guilty of coercing women into having sex with him as the charismatic leader of Nxivm, a life-coaching group that attracted a coterie of rich and famous devotees.

Followers signed up for $5,000, five-day self-help courses, but some were then financially and sexually exploited and forced to follow a restrictive diet, as Raniere — known as “Vanguard” — exerted control, his six-week trial heard.

He established a faction within the group called DOS, a pyramid structure in which the women were “slaves” and “Grand Master” Raniere sat at the top.

The “slaves” were made to have sex with Raniere, hand over personal information and compromising photos — and some of the women were branded like cattle as other members held them down.

Raniere was convicted in June 2019 on all seven charges brought against him, including racketeering, sex trafficking, extortion, criminal conspiracy and the sexual exploitation of a 15-year-old girl.

“I was a child. (He) robbed me of my youth,” said the woman during an impact statement at his sentencing hearing.

A total of 15 people — 13 of them women — addressed the Brooklyn court Tuesday while more than 90 victims wrote letters to Judge Nicholas Garaufis.

Nxivm — pronounced Nexium — proved a huge draw with its promise of self-improvement courses after Raniere founded the organization in New York state in 1998.

But Raniere, who was arrested in Mexico in 2018, swapped the personal development training courses for sex sessions as the head of subgroup of up to 20 women — the youngest of whom was the 15-year-old.

Heiress

The dramatic story has been the subject of two screen adaptions: HBO’s recently released “The Vow” docu-series and “Escaping the Nxivm Cult,” a 2019 Lisa Robinson film focused on the testimony of a mother working to save her daughter from the organization.

Addressing the court Tuesday, Raniere said he was “deeply sorry” for the “pain and anger” that his victims had expressed but maintained his innocence.

“I’m not remorseful over the charges. Those are not right,” he added.

Five other people were charged in the case, and all of them pleaded guilty.

German-born American actress Allison Mack — known for her role in “Smallville” — admitted to two counts of racketeering in April 2019.

The heiress of the Canadian drinks empire Seagram, Clare Bronfman, was sentenced last month after also pleading guilty.

The 41-year-old was accused of using more than $100 million of her $2.6 billion estimated net worth to fund the group and got more than six years in jail.

Following Raniere’s conviction, New York prosecutor Richard Donoghue said the proceedings “revealed that Raniere, who portrayed himself as a savant and a genius, was in fact, a master manipulator, a con-man and the crime boss of a cult-like organization.”

Prosecutors had called for a life sentence, accusing Raniere of a “total denial of culpability.”

Citing post-conviction calls and emails, the prosecution said Raniere presented his organization as a “good” thing, wondering “who will carry forth this burning torch of light?”

Raniere’s defense team — who unsuccessfully asked the jury to focus on whether they saw his actions as legal, even if they found them immoral — had suggested a 15-year jail term would be appropriate.




Do participate in democracy’s biggest festival; remember to maintain ‘Do gaj ki doori’: PM


He reiterated his message of Do gaj ki doori and urged the people to don a mask and follow social distancing protocol.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Day 1 of the Bihar elections urged the citizens of the state to cast their vote keeping in mind the Covid precautions.

Taking it to Twitter, PM said, “I urge all voters to ensure their participation in this festival of democracy while taking precautions against Covid-19.”

He reiterated his message of Do gaj ki doori and urged the people to don a mask and follow social distancing protocol.

He also urged people to cast their vote. “Do participate in democracy’s biggest festival.”


The first phase of elections in Bihar for 71 seats out of 243 members has begun today with precautions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

This time, the contest is between BJP-JDU alliance against Lalu Yadav’s RJD which is being led by his son Tejashwi Yadav and at the third front is LJP’s Chirag Paswan who has decided to contest separately distancing from Nitish Kumar’s JDU.

However, Paswan has maintained to be loyal of BJP as he had said Nitish ki khair nahi, BJP se bair nahi.

The first phase of the polls is scheduled on October 28 while the second and third phases will take place on November 3 and November 7 respectively. The results will be announced on November 10.

For Live updates visit: Bihar elections LIVE




India, US ready for 2+2 dialogue today; decks cleared for key defence agreement


‘Today’s discussions will add new vigour to India-US defence relations and mutual cooperation,’ Rajnath Singh tweeted after his meeting with Mark T Esper.

India and the United States are ready for the 2+2 dialogue today and to sign the historic Indo-US Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA).

The deal is significant as it pertains to geo-spatial intelligence, sharing information on maps and satellite images for defence purposes.

US Defence Secretary Mark T Esper and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo have arrived in India on Monday itself. They will be attended by their Indian counterparts Rajnath Singh and S Jaishankar.

“Today’s discussions will add new vigour to India-US defence relations and mutual cooperation,” Singh tweeted after his meeting with Esper which lasted for about an hour in South Block.

“India is delighted to host the US Secretary of Defence, Dr. Mark Esper. Our talks today were fruitful, aimed at further deepening defence cooperation in a wide range of areas. Today’s discussions will add new vigour to India-US defence relations & mutual cooperation,” he said.


The third edition of the 2+2 dialogue between India and USA is set to begin today.

Yesterday, the US State Department said the country welcomes India’s emergence as a leading regional and global power.

“As outlined in our National Security Strategy, the United States welcomes India’s emergence as a leading regional and global power. The United States looks forward to collaborating closely with India during its upcoming term on the UN Security Council,” the US said.

The top US leaders will also meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and hold discussions with other government and business leaders on ways to advance the US-India Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership, the State Department said.

US said that the subjects to be covered included regional security cooperation, defence information sharing, military-to-military interactions and defence trade.

“We have made significant progress towards concluding the last foundational defence enabling agreement – the Exchange and Cooperation Agreement or BECA,” senior officials of the Trump administration said last week in an online news briefing.

“This agreement will allow for expanded geospatial information sharing between our armed forces. We are also seeking to expand secure communication capabilities between our respective militaries as well as between our foreign defence ministries and that figures prominently in what we are trying to accomplish in the information-sharing space,” they added.

The relations between US and India have been strengthening in last few months as the Quadrilateral grouping of US, Japan, India and Australia are sending their warships for the Malabar Exercise next month.

Quadrilateral grouping, which experts say is to be mirroring NATO, has already been criticized by China many times.

In another major development in direction of strengthening the ties, New Delhi and Washington are also stepping up efforts to conclude the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) ahead of the Indo-US 2+2 ministerial meeting on October 26-27.




36,140 fresh Covid cases recorded in 24 hours, lowest in 3 months; recovery rate stands at 90.62%


India’s coronavirus case tally stands at 79,46,429 with 6,25,857 active Covid-19 cases. The active cases in the country which comprise 7.88 per cent of the total caseload. This is the lowest number of daily new cases recorded in the country since July 17.

With a spike of 36,140 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, India Covid-19 tally crosses the 79.4 lakh mark, according to Ministry of Health.

India’s coronavirus case tally stands at 79,46,429 with 6,25,857 active Covid-19 cases. The active cases in the country which comprise 7.88 per cent of the total caseload. This is the lowest number of daily new cases recorded in the country since July 17.

In the last 24 hours, the country has recorded 59,105 recoveries taking the total recoveries to 72,01,070. The recovery rate now stands at 90.62 per cent.

India, which remains the second-worst Covid hit nation in the world, has recorded 488 deaths in the last 24 hours. With this, the death toll now stands at 1,19,014 and fatality rate of the country stands at 1.50 per cent.

The Covid fatality rate has remained about 1.5 per cent since September. The Ministry of Health now aims to achieve a rate of less than 1 per cent and sustain it.


Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, West Bengal and Delhi have reported the maximum cases in the last 24 hours. These states together account for almost half of all the new cases of coronavirus in the country.

Maharastra which remains the worst affected state has reported a single day spike of 3,645 Covid-19 cases taking the states’ total tally to 16,48,665 cases and 43,348 fatalities.

Kerala, which is recording the highest spike in daily cases, has reported 4,287 cases taking the state’s tally to 3,97,217.

Delhi has reported 2,832 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, taking the total to 3,59,488 cases and 6,312 fatalities.

India has conducted a total of 9,58,116 tests, taking the total tally of Covid-19 tests conducted to 10,44,20,894.




‘Momentous day for America’: Donald Trump hails Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation


The US Senate confirmed conservative jurist Amy Coney Barrett as the Supreme Court’s newest justice Monday.

US President Donald Trump hailed his nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation Monday to the Supreme Court as “a momentous day for America,” in a ceremony coming just eight days before the presidential election.

“This is a momentous day for America, for the United States Constitution and for the fair and impartial rule of law,” the president, standing alongside Barrett, said before beaming lawmakers and others who had gathered on the South Lawn of the White House.

“I stand here tonight, truly honored and humbled,” Barrett, a 48-year-old religious conservative, said shortly after Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas administered the constitutional oath.

The US Senate confirmed conservative jurist Amy Coney Barrett as the Supreme Court’s newest justice Monday, delivering President Donald Trump a landmark win just eight days before the election.

The deeply divided chamber voted 52 to 48, largely along party lines in the Republican-controlled Senate, making Barrett the third Trump nominee to reach the high court and cementing a six-to-three conservative majority.

Republican lawmakers broke into applause as the tally was read out, and the White House is also expected to celebrate the confirmation in the final run-up to the November 3 election, in which more than 60 million Americans have already voted.

Immediately after the vote the White House announced that Trump would attend a “swearing-in ceremony” for Barrett on the mansion’s South Lawn, where she will take an oath to uphold the US Constitution.

Chief Justice John Roberts will administer the judicial oath on Tuesday at the Supreme Court, formally inaugurating her term on the bench.

Barrett, a 48-year-old religious conservative, replaces late justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the liberal icon and women’s rights advocate who died on September 18 at age 87.




‘Far more water than previously thought’: NASA’s SOFIA finds water on Moon’s sunlit surface for first time


A new study provides further chemical proof that the Moon holds molecular water, even in sunlit areas.

There may be far more water on the Moon than previously thought, according to two studies published Monday raising the tantalising prospect that astronauts on future space missions could find refreshment — and maybe even fuel — on the lunar surface.

The Moon was believed to be bone dry until around a decade ago when a series of findings suggested that our nearest celestial neighbour has traces of water trapped in the surface.

Two new studies published in Nature Astronomy on Monday suggest there could be much more water than previously thought, including ice stored in permanently shadowed “cold traps” at lunar polar regions.


Previous research has found indications of water by scanning the surface — but these were unable to distinguish between water (H2O) and hydroxyl, a molecule made up of one hydrogen atom and one oxygen atom.

But a new study provides further chemical proof that the Moon holds molecular water, even in sunlit areas.

Using data from the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) Airborne Telescope, researchers scanned the lunar surface at a more precise wavelength than had been used before — six microns instead of three.

This allowed them to “unambiguously” distinguish the spectral fingerprint of molecular water, said co-author Casey Honniball, of the Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology.

Researchers believe the water might be trapped in glass beads, or another substance that protects it from the harsh lunar environment, Honniball told AFP, adding that further observations would help better understand where the water may have come from and how it is stored.

“If we find the water is abundant enough in certain locations we may be able to use it as a resource for human exploration,” Honniball said.

“It could be used as drinking water, breathable oxygen, and rocket fuel.”

‘Tiny shadows’

A second study looks at areas of the Moon’s polar regions, where water ice is believed to be trapped in lunar craters that never see sunlight.

Large hollows had previously been discovered — NASA in 2009 found water crystals in a deep crater near the Moon’s southern pole.

But the new study found evidence of billions of micro-craters that could each cradle a miniscule amount of water ice.

“If you were standing on the Moon near one of the poles, you would see a whole ‘galaxy’ of little shadows speckled across the surface,” said lead author Paul Hayne of the Department of Astrophysics at the University of Colorado.

“Each of these tiny shadows — most of them smaller than a coin — would be extremely cold, and most of them cold enough to harbour ice.”

This “suggests that water could be much more widespread on the Moon than previously thought”, Hayne told AFP.

The authors say this could mean that approximately 40,000 km2 of the lunar surface has the capacity to trap water.

They were able to reconstruct the size and distribution of these little craters using high-resolution images and lunar temperature measurements taken from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

These micro-craters are distributed across both poles and should be as cold — around -160 degrees Celsius — as the larger, kilometre-scale lunar hollows, Hayne told AFP.

And there are “tens of billions” of them, Hayne said, compared to a few hundred larger cold traps.

Scientists hope that samples from these cold traps could tell us more about how the Moon — and even Earth — got its water, he said, perhaps providing evidence of water delivered by asteroids, comets and the solar wind.

But they also present a potential practical resource for astronauts, both on the Moon and for a human mission to Mars.

NASA, which plans to establish a space station in the lunar orbit called Gateway, envisages that ice excavated from the Moon’s south pole may one day supply drinking water.

They could also split the molecules apart to make rocket fuel for an onward journey.




SC stays contempt proceedings against Ramesh Pokhriyal in ‘non-payment of dues’ case


High Court had ordered the former chief ministers of the state to pay market rent for the entire period they continued to occupy government accommodation since demitting office.

In a major relief for the Union Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal, the Supreme Court on Monday stayed the Uttarakhand High Court’s contempt proceedings against him for allegedly failing to pay rent for the government bungalow he was staying in.

The apex court overturned the Uttarakhand High Court’s order which had on May 3 last year ordered the former chief ministers of the state to pay market rent for the entire period they continued to occupy government accommodation since demitting office.

In its order, the high court had declared all government orders from 2001 providing housing and other facilities to former chief ministers in the state as illegal and unconstitutional.

Today, a Supreme Court’s bench headed by Justice R F Nariman stayed the contempt proceedings on a plea filed by the Union Minister of Education.

The court had directed that all amount due and payable towards amenities such as electricity, water, petrol, oil and lubricants provided by the state to the former chief ministers shall be computed by the state government within four months from the date of receipt of the copy of the order.

In August this year, the Uttarakhand High Court issued show-cause notices to three former chief ministers and the state chief secretary while hearing a contempt petition over non-compliance of its order to clear dues for facilities used by the state’s ex-CMs for years.

Among the former chief minister named in the plea were Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank and Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari.

(With PTI inputs)




‘Looking forward to collaborate closely with India’: US ahead of 2+2 dialogue


US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defence Mark T Esper are on their way to New Delhi.

The third edition of the 2+2 dialogue between India and USA is set to begin as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defence Mark T Esper are on their way to New Delhi.

Ahead of the important talks, the US State Department said the country welcomes India’s emergence as a leading regional and global power.

“As outlined in our National Security Strategy, the United States welcomes India’s emergence as a leading regional and global power. The United States looks forward to collaborating closely with India during its upcoming term on the UN Security Council,” the US said, reported NDTV.

“Wheels up for my trip to India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Indonesia. Grateful for the opportunity to connect with our partners to promote a shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific composed of independent, strong, and prosperous nations,” Mike Pompeo tweeted last night.


The top US leaders will also meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and hold discussions with other government and business leaders on ways to advance the US-India Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership, the State Department said.

US said that the subjects to be covered included regional security cooperation, defence information sharing, military-to-military interactions and defence trade.

“We have made significant progress towards concluding the last foundational defence enabling agreement – the Exchange and Cooperation Agreement or BECA,” senior officials of the Trump administration said last week in an online news briefing.

“This agreement will allow for expanded geospatial information sharing between our armed forces. We are also seeking to expand secure communication capabilities between our respective militaries as well as between our foreign defence ministries and that figures prominently in what we are trying to accomplish in the information-sharing space,” they added.

The relations between US and India have been strengthening in last few months as the Quadrilateral grouping of US, Japan, India and Australia are sending their warships for the Malabar Exercise next month.

Quadrilateral grouping, which experts say is to be mirroring NATO, has already been criticized by China many times.

In another major development in direction of strengthening the ties, New Delhi and Washington are also stepping up efforts to conclude the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) ahead of the Indo-US 2+2 ministerial meeting on October 26-27.





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