Archive | November, 2011

China raises poverty line, increasing number of official poor by 100 million

Posted on 30 November 2011 by GGS News

BEIJING,(GGS NEWS) 30 Nov 2011 : — Even with its booming economy, China now has more poor people — at least officially.
A sharp upward revision in the official poverty line, announced by the government Tuesday, means that 128 million Chinese in rural areas now qualify as poor, 100 million more than under the previous standard.
The new threshold of about $1 a day nearly doubles the previous amount. While the revised poverty line is still below the World Bank threshold of $1.25 a day, the change brings China closer to international norms and better reflects the country’s overall higher standards of living after three decades of buoyant growth.
The old limit, first set in the 1990s and notched up periodically thereafter, focused on the bedrock poor at a time China was still largely rural and impoverished. As the country has climbed toward middle income status, experts from the World Bank and Chinese think tanks have urged the government to raise the threshold to capture more poor Chinese.
“The previous poverty line underestimated the number of poor people in rural China,” the official newspaper China Daily quoted Wang Sangui, a rural development expert at Renmin University, as saying. “Only 2.8 percent of the rural population was officially considered poor, which was lower than in many developed countries such as the United States, which has a poverty rate of about 15 percent.”
With the higher threshold, more people qualify for government assistance. Funding for poverty relief is also being raised more than 20 percent this year to 27 billion yuan, or $4.2 billion, the China Daily reported.

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Moroccan king appoints Islamist party chief as PM

Posted on 30 November 2011 by GGS News

Africa,(GGS NEWS) 30 Nov 2011 :-The leader of an Islamist party that has never before participated in Morocco’s governments was chosen by the king as the country’s new head of government on Tuesday.

The Justice and Development Party won the most votes Friday in a national election prompted by the pro-democracy demonstrations that swept this North African kingdom of 32 million earlier this year as part of the regionwide Arab Spring.

King Mohammed VI received Abdelilah Benkirane, the secretary general of the Justice and Development Party, in the mountain town of Midelt on Tuesday and named him head of government with the task of forming a governing coalition.

It would have been unthinkable just a year ago for a member of the opposition PJD to lead the government, but the Arab Spring movement forced the king to reform Morocco’s constitution and hold early elections.

The party is considered quite “moderate” on the spectrum of Islamist groups. The party has talked about fighting the rampant corruption, reforming the education system so it readies people for the job market, and combating the widespread unemployment.

With the fall or weakening of Western-backed secular dictatorships, people across North Africa have been turning to Islamist parties that have been in the opposition as an alternative.

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N Ireland faces strike disruption

Posted on 30 November 2011 by GGS News

N.lreland,(GGS NEWS) 30 Nov 2011 :- A public service strike is likely to disrupt commuters today as thousands of workers take industrial action in Northern Ireland today.More than 200,000 workers across the north will take industrial action in protest at public sector pension cuts, with representatives also objecting to
wider British government spending reductions.

The Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance, representing members across the civil service, will alone have more than 45,000 workers on strike and stage 160 pickets.All of Northern Ireland’s 1,200 schools face disruption to transport and catering services, and with most of the teaching unions striking, it is likely that a majority will be forced to close their doors.In the health sector, emergency services are to be maintained and GP services and ambulances will be kept running despite disruption caused by industrial action.The private sector has been critical of the day of action, but assistant general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions Peter Bunting defended the strikes.

“I think today is necessary because the public sector workers, and workers in general, are facing in many cases very, very serious reductions in their terms and conditions of employment,” he said.

“And it will impact on the quality of life of everyone.”

Mr Bunting said cuts were removing money from the economy and would impact on both the public sector and the private sector.

He added the significance of the strike action went further than protecting
public sector pensions.

Mr Bunting said union members were also mobilising against wider British government cuts which he said had failed to bolster the troubled economy.

“It is also putting down a marker that we will oppose the austerity cuts that
have not worked and will not work,” he said. “We need a Plan B.”

He cited economic projections which he said showed government policies had failed to promote real economic growth.

Mr Bunting said the British government should look elsewhere for revenue and said £123 billion was lost in tax evasion, tax avoidance and through unclaimed tax.

“It is just incredible what is happening here,” he said, arguing that a
policy of cuts was “threatening the future of our children”.

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Man dies in Huyton street stabbing attack

Posted on 30 November 2011 by GGS News

England,(GGS NEWS) 30 Nov 2011 ;- A MURDER investigation is underway after a man was stabbed to death in Huyton.Police were called to the scene near the parade shops on Kingsway around 9pm tonight.Detectives are appealing for witnesses after a man, believed to be in his 30s, was stabbed with a knife in his neck.The man, who residents said is a shopkeeper, was taken to hospital where he died a short time later.

DCI Neil Bickley said: “We are appealing to anyone who may have seen any part of this incident to come forward as they may have vital information for this investigation.“At this early stage of the investigation the motive for the attack is not yet known and we ask anyone who may have seen or heard anything suspicious around the time of the attack to contact us, anonymously if preferred, so we can take action against the offender.”

The scene was cordoned off for forensic examination.Officers are carrying out house-to-house enquiries, have stepped up high visibility patrols and are examining CCTV footage.The victim has not yet been formally identified. A post-mortem examination will take place to establish his cause of death.

Anyone with any information is asked to call Merseyside Police on 0151 777 6565, or 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

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Ivory Coast president awaits trial in the Hague

Posted on 30 November 2011 by GGS News

Netherlands ,(GGS NEWS) 30 Nov 2011  — A plane believed to be carrying former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo landed early Wednesday in the Netherlands ahead of his transfer to the International Criminal Court.
The Ivorian plane arrived at Rotterdam The Hague Airport shortly before 4 a.m. (0300 GMT) and taxied to a hangar where it was met by a convoy of black cars.
The international court did not immediately confirm that Gbagbo was on the plane. But its arrival at the airport close to the outskirts of The Hague and the waiting fleet of cars was similar to the procedure followed when other high-profile suspects such as former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and Bosnian Serb military chief Gen. Ratko Mladic were transferred to other international tribunals in The Hague.
No details have been released of the charges faced by Gbagbo, but the court’s investigation focused on violence that erupted after he refused to accept defeat in last year’s presidential election and nearly plunged Ivory Coast into civil war.
The ICC was not expected to make any announcement until later Wednesday after Gbagbo arrives in their detention unit in The Hague.
Gbagbo is the first former head of state to be taken into custody by the ICC since its founding in 2002. Milosevic and former Liberian President Charles Taylor also were put on trial in The Hague, but before separate ad hoc tribunals.
Gbagbo had been under house arrest in the tiny village of Korhogo over 300 miles (500 kilometers) north of Abidjan since being ousted by internationally backed forces seven months ago.
In Abidjan, Gbagbo’s spokesman Kone Katinan confirmed that the former ruler had left the remote village on a special flight to the Netherlands. The public prosecutor’s office in Ivory Coast said Gbagbo changed planes in Bouake, the regional capital, before continuing to the Netherlands.
The former president’s transfer, which comes almost exactly a year to the day after Ivory Coast’s disputed presidential election, was applauded by victims of Gbagbo’s regime and by human rights groups.
However, the move could further stoke tension in Ivory Coast because it gives the appearance of victor’s justice, since grave abuses were also committed by forces loyal to the country’s democratically elected leader, Alassane Ouattara, who enlisted the help of a former rebel group to force Gbagbo from office.
Leaders of Gbagbo’s party, whose members are either under house arrest or in exile, condemned the extradition.
“It’s an injustice to judge him alone without judging (Guillaume) Soro,” said party spokesman Augustin Guehoun, naming the country’s defense minister who headed the armed group that invaded the country in order to install Ouattara.
The United Nations, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have documented how the advancing army set fire to villages that voted for Gbagbo, and executed those that could not run away, including the elderly and the disabled, by rolling them inside mattresses and then setting them on fire.
“He is not the only one responsible (for the human rights abuses committed during the post election period),” said 30-year-old Kossonou Agingra. “There were partisans of Alassane (Ouattara) who killed — and partisans of Gbagbo who killed.”
The 66-year-old Gbagbo, a history professor, came to power in a flawed election in 2000. He then failed to hold elections when his first five-year term expired in 2005, and rescheduled the vote a half-dozen times before it finally went ahead in 2010.
As soon as it became clear that Ouattara was leading in the polls, Gbagbo’s presidential guard surrounded the election commission, preventing the results from being announced.
The killings began as soon as the United Nations declared Ouattara the winner, and for the next four months morgues overflowed as the military under Gbagbo’s control executed opponents, gunned down protesters and shelled neighborhoods.
The turning point came in March when thousands of unarmed women led a demonstration demanding Gbagbo’s departure. Tanks opened fire with 50-caliber bullets and the horrific scene that followed was caught on camera phones, and led to condemnation by governments around the world.
The United Nations helped by French forces began air strikes soon after, clearing the path for Ouattara’s soldiers to enter the city, where they seized Gbagbo inside his bunker.
“Today is a big day for the victims of crimes committed during Ivory Coast’s horrific postelection violence,” Elise Keppler, senior counsel to Human Rights Watch said in an email.
“While the Gbagbo camp fueled the violence through its refusal to relinquish power and its incitement, forces on both sides have been repeatedly implicated in grave crimes,” she said. “The many victims of abuse meted out by forces loyal to President Ouattara also deserve to see justice done.”
The spokesman for Ouattara’s government Kone Bruno said he did not believe the pending indictment could destabilize the nation, which is still plagued by pockets of violence between the two camps. He added that the international court will likely be more impartial than an Ivory Coast court. “If a judgment were made in Ivory Coast, it wouldn’t be objective,” he said.
In the Netherlands, Gbagbo is likely to be better treated than he has been at home. His Paris-based lawyer Emmanuel Altit said that while under house arrest in Korhogo Gbagbo was kept incommunicado and prohibited from going outside.
A confidential United Nations document leaked to The Associated Press on Tuesday states that Gbagbo’s health “seems to be deteriorating.” He was having “trouble standing up,” as of Nov. 23.
In The Hague, Gbagbo will likely be held in the same North Sea-facing complex that also houses ex-Liberian warlord Taylor and Congolese politician Jean-Pierre Bemba. Inmates have TVs, access to the internet and a choice of books to read, as well as regular contact with their attorneys.

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Strike action set to close some schools

Posted on 30 November 2011 by GGS News

Uk,(GGS NEWS) 30 Nov 2011 :- More than 2 million public sector workers are set to stage the largest strike for a generation on Wednesday.Extensive disruptions at airports, schools, government agencies and ports are expected alongside more than 1,000 public employee demonstrations expected to take place throughout the United Kingdom today. The union-prompted action comes in response to recently proposed government initiatives that could make public workers pay higher portions of their pensions and work longer to receive it.

Paul Kenny, head of the GMB union, said that the pension measures were simply unaffordable and unjustifiable for “hard-pressed” public workers.

Meanwhile, Downing Street has called for more talks and said that the walkout would “achieve nothing”. Similarly, Francis Maude, the cabinet office minister, called the strikes “wrong” and “indefensible”. He said that public sector employees should consider the offer themselves rather than accepting the “rhetoric” of union heads.

And while Labour is not in favour of the strikes officials have said that the government needed to provide more for low-paid public employees.

Among the largest disruptions associated with the walkout are massive expected immigration queues at Heathrow airport, as Border Agency workers are among those taking part in the strikes. The BAA has warned that event with last minute contingency plans that wait times at the airport’s Border Zone could be in excess of three hours on Wednesday.

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States should move to specific duties for petrol

Posted on 30 November 2011 by GGS News

New Delhi,(GGS NEWS) 30 Nov 2011 :- Buying petrol costs more in India than in other South Asian countries and even in the US, the government said in the Parliament on Tuesday.

In a written reply to a question raised in the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Petroleum RPN Singh said that while the fuel costs Rs 66.42 a litre in India, the same volume can be bought for Rs 48.64 in Pakistan, Rs 52.42 in Bangladesh and Rs 61.38 in Sri Lanka.

In the US, petrol costs Rs 44.88 a litre, Singh said.

He also clarified that with the excise duty fixed at Rs 14.78 per litre of petrol and at Rs 2.06 per litre of diesel, the central government’s revenue does not increase from rise in petrol prices.

Singh said it is the state governments which benefit from each rise in fuel prices.

“Whenever there is an increase in retail selling prices of these petroleum products, the state governments’ sales tax/VAT collection goes up correspondingly,” Singh said.

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Eco partnership bedrock of India-US relationship: Rao

Posted on 30 November 2011 by GGS News

WASHINGTON,(GGS NEWS) 30 Nov 2011 :- Describing India as a powerhouse increasingly critical to the conduct of global affairs, a top US Senator has said the two countries can work together in addressing the challenges of the region and the world.

“It is just simply a reality that India is a powerhouse, an extraordinary country, a place of those vibrant debate, a remarkable cultural diversity, great political diversity and increasingly critical to the conduct of global affairs,” said Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Kerry was addressing a gathering of his Senate colleagues and eminent Indian-Americans at a welcome reception today hosted by the Senate India Caucus in honor of the new Indian Ambassador to the US, Nirupama Rao.

Noting that the two countries share the foundation of democracy; Kerry said India and the US have great partnership ahead.

“A lot we can do together,” said Kerry, who is likely to visit India in a month or two.

“As the Ambassador knows, I intend to be travelling (to India). I had to postpone the trip in the last days but I am looking forward to getting there in the next month or two and continue to dialogue about how we work together to deal with some very very complicated and challenging issues across,” he said.

“I am confident, it would grow in South Asia and rest of the world, I am just looking forward to be part of this exciting moment in history,” he said.

The top American Senator said countries across the globe can learn from India’s behavior on the nuclear issue.

“Our relationship on nuclear issues is obviously one that has expanded and growing,” he said.

“India’s remarkable sense of responsibility with respect to stewardship of nuclear power, even though NPT has been something outside that guide post, has nevertheless been exemplary and stands as an example to near neighbors and others in the world about where the future really lies with respect to exercising that responsibility,” Kerry said.

The Massachusetts Senator also praised the economic reforms unleashed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 1990s when he was the country’s finance minister.

India then was already growing but was a far cry to where it has achieved gone in some 15 years, he said.

Kerry who took the first Senate business trip to India soon after the launch of the economic reforms has traveled to India a number of times since then.

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SIMI’s Nagori tops in Brahma Kumaris’ course

Posted on 30 November 2011 by GGS News

HMEDABAD,(GGS NEWS) 30 Nov 2011 :-  He tried to turn Ahmedabad on its head by allegedly orchestrating the serial blasts of 2008 and failed. He is now learning to stand on his head and doing a fairly good job of it. Safdar Nagori, 38, a leader of the Students Islamic Movement of India ( SIMI) has topped the post-graduate diploma course in value education and spirituality while killing time in the Sabarmati Central Jail. The course, which includes yoga lessons, is run by Brahmakumaris in association with Annamalai University’s distance learning division.

Nagori got 87% marks in the exam followed by Atul Patel, an accused in the infamous Patan gang rape case, with 85%. Nagori is among nine Muslims in 56 candidates who appeared for the exam.

In fact, three in the top five are Ahmedabad serial blasts accused. The fake encounter specialist, suspended IPS officer D G Vanzara, failed to make it to the top ten by just one rank and came 11th.

The inmates appeared in four written exams of 100 marks each, and 50 marks each for an oral test and a term paper on a subject of their choice. Nagori’s term paper was on the ethos of various religions. He has evaluated the commonalities between different religions. Other inmates focused on subjects like the current education system, the Gita in the modern context, science and spirituality, and meditation and farming.

“The participants not only took part in yoga, meditation and spiritual courses, but also read extensively on communal harmony, better living, social service and addiction eradication,” said Brahmakumari Nandini, regional coordinator of distance education course. “Initially, many felt the course would focus on Hinduism, but at the end of 15 days, there was a marked change in their attitude and they were more involved.”

PC Thakur, additional director general of police (prisons), said they will hold a proper convocation in jail. “The event on December 3 will be like in any university with senior officials and academicians remaining present,” he said. “Two people, who have been released from jail, are even coming back for the convocation. In fact, the course has become more popular now with 116 inmates registering for it.”

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Mullaperiyar row: Kerala ministers to meet PM

Posted on 30 November 2011 by GGS News

New Delhi, (GGS NEWS) 30 Nov 2011 : The deadlock on FDI in retail showed no signs of resolution today with government not yielding to the opposition demand for rollback and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh going a step further by strongly justifying the move. Even as the Prime Minister put up a defence of the decision, it came under attack from a Congress MP who said that it would hurt the poor, traders, hawkers and farmers and demanded a rethink on it. With a couple of MPs openly raising the banner against the FDI decision, the Congress party has called its MPs for a meeting tomorrow in which Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee will seek to allay apprehensions on the issue. Parliament remaining paralysed for the sixth straight day, government made an attempt to break the logjam but both sides remained adamant leading to disruption of both the Houses. There were no signs of a thaw with Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj declaring that the demand for a discussion through an adjournment motion which entails voting is “non-negotiable”. At the morning meeting, Leader of the Lok Sabha and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee told the opposition leaders since the FDI decision was taken by the cabinet, he has to get back to the Prime Minister before he can say anything. In the evening, the Prime Minister strongly justified the decision saying it was “not taken in any haste, but after careful consideration”. It is our firm conviction that the decision will benefit the country, farmers and consumers, he said addressing a Youth Congress Convention. Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who also spoke at the Convention, did not refer to the FDI controversy.

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