Archive | April, 2015

Barack Obama’s ‘unclassified emails’ hacked by Russians, says report

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Barack Obama’s ‘unclassified emails’ hacked by Russians, says report

Posted on 26 April 2015 by GGS News

WASHINGTON, 26 Apr :  — Some of President Obama’s email correspondence was swept up by Russian hackers last year in a breach of the White House’s unclassified computer system that was far more intrusive and worrisome than has been publicly acknowledged, according to senior American officials briefed on the investigation.

The hackers, who also got deeply into the State Department’s unclassified system, do not appear to have penetrated closely guarded servers that control the message traffic from Mr. Obama’s BlackBerry, which he or an aide carries constantly.

But they obtained access to the email archives of people inside the White House, and perhaps some outside, with whom Mr. Obama regularly communicated. From those accounts, they reached emails that the president had sent and received, according to officials briefed on the investigation.White House officials said that no classified networks had been compromised, and that the hackers had collected no classified information. Many senior officials have two computers in their offices, one operating on a highly secure classified network and another connected to the outside world for unclassified communications.

But officials have conceded that the unclassified system routinely contains much information that is considered highly sensitive: schedules, email exchanges with ambassadors and diplomats, discussions of pending personnel moves and legislation, and, inevitably, some debate about policy.

Officials did not disclose the number of Mr. Obama’s emails that were harvested by hackers, nor the sensitivity of their content. The president’s email account itself does not appear to have been hacked. Aides say that most of Mr. Obama’s classified briefings — such as the morning Presidential Daily Brief — are delivered orally or on paper (sometimes supplemented by an iPad system connected to classified networks) and that they are usually confined to the Oval Office or the Situation Room.

Still, the fact that Mr. Obama’s communications were among those hit by the hackers — who are presumed to be linked to the Russian government, if not working for it — has been one of the most closely held findings of the inquiry. Senior White House officials have known for months about the depth of the intrusion.

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“This has been one of the most sophisticated actors we’ve seen,” said one senior American official briefed on the investigation.

Others confirmed that the White House intrusion was viewed as so serious that officials met on a nearly daily basis for several weeks after it was discovered. “It’s the Russian angle to this that’s particularly worrisome,” another senior official said.

While Chinese hacking groups are known for sweeping up vast amounts of commercial and design information, the best Russian hackers tend to hide their tracks better and focus on specific, often political targets. And the hacking happened at a moment of renewed tension with Russia — over its annexation of Crimea, the presence of its forces in Ukraine and its renewed military patrols in Europe, reminiscent of the Cold War.Inside the White House, the intrusion has raised a new debate about whether it is possible to protect a president’s electronic presence, especially when it reaches out from behind the presumably secure firewalls of the executive branch.

Mr. Obama is no stranger to computer-network attacks: His 2008 campaign was hit by Chinese hackers. Nonetheless, he has long been a frequent user of email, and publicly fought the Secret Service in 2009 to retain his BlackBerry, a topic he has joked about in public. He was issued a special smartphone, and the list of those he can exchange emails with is highly restricted.

When asked about the investigation’s findings, the spokeswoman for the National Security Council, Bernadette Meehan, said, “We’ll decline to comment.” The White House has also declined to provide any explanations about how the breach was handled, though the State Department has been more candid about what kind of systems were hit and what it has done since to improve security. A spokesman for the F.B.I. declined to comment.

Officials who discussed the investigation spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicate nature of the hacking. While the White House has refused to identify the nationality of the hackers, others familiar with the investigation said that in both the White House and State Department cases, all signs pointed to Russians.

On Thursday, Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter revealed for the first time that Russian hackers had attacked the Pentagon’s unclassified systems, but said they had been identified and “kicked off.” Defense Department officials declined to say if the signatures of the attacks on the Pentagon appeared related to the White House and State Department attacks.

The discovery of the hacking in October led to a partial shutdown of the White House email system. The hackers appear to have been evicted from the White House systems by the end of October. But they continued to plague the State Department, whose system is much more far-flung. The disruptions were so severe that during the Iranian nuclear negotiations in Vienna in November, officials needed to distribute personal email accounts, to one another and to some reporters, to maintain contact.

Earlier this month, officials at the White House said that the hacking had not damaged its systems and that, while elements had been shut down to mitigate the effects of the attack, everything had been restored.

One of the curiosities of the White House and State Department attacks is that the administration, which recently has been looking to name and punish state and nonstate hackers in an effort to deter attacks, has refused to reveal its conclusions about who was responsible for this complex and artful intrusion into the government. That is in sharp contrast to Mr. Obama’s decision, after considerable internal debate in December, to name North Korea for ordering the attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, and to the director of national intelligence’s decision to name Iranian hackers as the source of a destructive attack on the Sands Casino.This month, after CNN reported that hackers had gained access to sensitive areas of the White House computer network, including sections that contained the president’s schedule, the White House spokesman, Josh Earnest, said the administration had not publicly named who was behind the hack because federal investigators had concluded that “it’s not in our best interests.”

Anyone of at least average intelligence is aware that obama’s NSA is much to busy spying on your dear old granny to spare any time to…
Michael 8 hours ago
It would be nice if there was an email system where the messages self-destructed after a period of time. I’m sure it’s not foolproof, but…
Alex 8 hours ago
Government regulators regularly impose enormous fines when the private sector messes up on computer security, and private data is stolen. …
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By contrast, in the North Korea case, he said, investigators concluded that “we’re more likely to be successful in terms of holding them accountable by naming them publicly.”

But the breach of the president’s emails appeared to be a major factor in the government secrecy. “All of this is very tightly held,” one senior American official said, adding that the content of what had been breached was being kept secret to avoid tipping off the Russians about what had been learned from the investigation.Mr. Obama’s friends and associates say that he is a committed user of his BlackBerry, but that he is careful when emailing outside the White House system.

“The frequency has dropped off in the last six months or so,” one of his close associates said, though this person added that he did not know if the drop was related to the hacking.

Mr. Obama is known to send emails to aides late at night from his residence, providing them with his feedback on speeches or, at times, entirely new drafts. Others say he has emailed on topics as diverse as his golf game and the struggle with Congress over the Iranian nuclear negotiations.

George W. Bush gave up emailing for the course of his presidency and did not carry a smartphone. But after Mr. Bush left office, his sister’s email account was hacked, and several photos — including some of his paintings — were made public.

The White House is bombarded with cyberattacks daily, not only from Russia and China. Most are easily deflected.

The White House, the State Department, the Pentagon and intelligence agencies put their most classified material into a system called Jwics, for Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System. That is where top-secret and “secret compartmentalized information” traverses within the government, to officials cleared for it — and it includes imagery, data and graphics. There is no evidence, senior officials said, that this hacking pierced it.

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Russia jails three for WWII memorial `twerk`

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Russia jails three for WWII memorial `twerk`

Posted on 26 April 2015 by GGS News

Moscow, 26 Apr : A Russian court has sentenced three young women to up to 15 days imprisonment after they performed a dance with “twerk” moves in front of a war memorial and posted a video online, prosecutors said on Sunday.

A district court in the southern city of Novorossiisk on Saturday sentenced two of the dancers to 10 days and one to 15 days for petty hooliganism. Two others were fined.

Prosecutors launched a check after the group of six dancers, one of whom was a minor and was not jailed or fined, posted a video on YouTube of the dance in front of a World War II memorial complex.

Prosecutors said the women were performing “an erotic and sexual twerk dance,” a dance craze made famous by pop artists such as Beyonce and Miley Cyrus.

“This incident of disrespect for the memory of war history is unacceptable and any attempts to desecrate sites of military glory will be stopped immediately,” prosecutors said.

Russia is gearing up for a massive celebration of the 70th anniversary of the World War II victory culminating in a military parade on Moscow’s Red Square.

The sentencing came after a video of Russian pupils at a dance school performing the twerk move in bee costumes was viewed millions of times on the Internet this month and prompted the powerful Investigative Committee to launch a probe into indecency.

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Fresh tremors shake various states, toll climbs to 57

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Fresh tremors shake various states, toll climbs to 57

Posted on 26 April 2015 by GGS News

New Delhi , 26 Apr : (PTI) Fresh tremors were today felt in various parts of India, including the national capital Delhi, even as the death toll in yesterday’s temblor climbed to 57.

The fresh tremors, which had a magnitude of 6.9 on the Richter Scale and epicentred in Nepal, were experienced in West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Jharkhand, Odisha, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Haryana, UP and Delhi for over 30 seconds at 12:42 PM.

No casualties or damage to property have been reported in the fresh tremors.Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called a review meeting to take stock of the relief and rescue operations in the aftermath of the quake.

NDRF Chief O P Singh has rushed to Nepal in order to coordinate operations of the Indian rescue forces and local authorities in the quake-hit country.

Singh will be joining the seven National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams which have already landed in Kathmandu.

In view of the aftershocks, all relief operations headed to Kathmandu have been kept on hold till 4 PM. The tremors, which triggered panic among the people, came a day after a devastating temblor killed over 2,000 people in Nepal.

“All movement to Kathmandu kept on hold till 1600 hrs due to fresh tremors in Nepal,” Defence Ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said.

IndiGo and SpiceJet flights did not land in Kathmandu and returned as ATC personnel at airport there were evacuated following aftershocks.

With 18 members of the country’s Under-14 girls football team stuck in Nepal following the earthquake, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said they will be evacuated on “priority”.

The toll in yesterday’s disaster, meanwhile, climbed to 57, according to Home Ministry sources. They said another 240 people have been injured in the quake.

Government has announced a compensation of Rs two lakh to the families of those who lost their lives in the powerful quake and stepped up relief efforts in the affected states.
Fresh deaths were reported in Bihar due to incidents of wall collapse after the quake.

In Patna, Disaster Management Department Joint Secretary Sunil Kumar told PTI that the highest number of eight casualties have been reported from East Champaran district, followed by six each in Sitamarhi and Darbhanga and three each in Siwan, Lakhisarai and Araria districts.

There have been two deaths each in Supaul, Saharsa, Sheohar, Saran and Madhubani districts even as Katihar, West Champaran and Gaya districts recorded one casualty each, Kumar said.

In Uttar Pradesh, the toll mounted 13 people with one more person succumbing to injuries in Kushinagar, which was among badly affected district in the state.

So far, 550 Indians have been evacuated by the IAF from quake-hit Nepal. Since 10:40 PM last night, four IAF aircraft have landed from Nepal with 546 Indians on board. The first aircraft to land was a C-130J with 55 passengers on board, including four infants, a defence spokesperson said today.

Around midnight, a C-17 aircraft landed with 102 passengers which was followed by an IL 76 with 152.

Around 4 AM, a C17 landed with 237 passengers, all who were evacuated following the massive earthquake that has claimed over 1800 lives.
Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha said Indian authorities have responded “very proactively, very swiftly and I think every agency, every stakeholder in India who matters in providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in Nepal in times of their need has been activated and the response has been exceptional”.

“Today, we have planned to send 10 large bodied aircraft carrying loads of equipment of behalf of the Army specially some of their field engineering companies, regiments…One aircraft has already gone airborne and other aircraft is getting ready. The operation will continue the whole day,” he said.

India, which was the first to respond to the Nepal crisis, is stepping up its mission with transport planes scheduled to carry equipment, relief material and specialists to Nepal. Also on board with will the Army forward hospitals.

National carrier Air India has resumed its flights to quake-hit Nepal with two services- one each from Delhi and Kolkata – leaving for Kathmandu early this morning.

Both the flights left around 7:30 AM with 118 and 45 passengers on board each plane, an Air India spokesperson said.

Modi is himself monitoring the situation and has issued directives to ensure timely relief for those affected.

He has directed immediate dispatch of rescue and relief teams, including medical staff, to the affected areas

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Major fire at Citi Mart mall in Kolkata contained, no casualties

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Major fire at Citi Mart mall in Kolkata contained, no casualties

Posted on 26 April 2015 by GGS News

Kolkata, April 26 (ANI): A major fire broke out at a shopping mall in the New Market area of Kolkata city on Sunday. Around 15 fire tenders have been pressed into service to douse the flames at the City Mart shopping mall. Fire officials were seen working to try and douse the fire. Thick black fumes of black smoke have engulfed the entire building. There is no report of any casualty or injury. Cause of the fire is yet to be known. Further details are awaited.

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LIVE: Fresh aftershock hits India, Nepal once again; triggers fresh avalanches at Everest

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LIVE: Fresh aftershock hits India, Nepal once again; triggers fresh avalanches at Everest

Posted on 26 April 2015 by GGS News

Kathmandu/New Delhi, 26 Apr : Rescuers on dug with bare hands and heavy equipment through tonnes of rubble for survivors as toll from the devastating temblor crossed the 2,000-mark in Nepal’s worst quake in over 80 years, with fresh aftershocks triggering panic and hampering relief efforts.

A strong 6.7-magnitude aftershock sent people running for open spaces as they struggled with the devastation caused by yesterday’s massive 7.9-magnitude temblor that displaced and injured thousands besides causing a deadly avalanche on the Mount Everest claiming 17 lives. “The latest figure says more than 2,000 people have died and several thousands have been wounded and more counts are coming,” said Narayan Khatkar, Nepal’s Urban Development Minister. A police official told media here that 2,123 people were killed.Over 5,000 people were also injured in the earthquake and the dozen aftershocks that continued till today, with the strongest measuring 6.7 on the Richter Scale. Climbers on Mount Everest said they saw fresh series of avalanches and a big landslide in the base camp. International teams, including from India, have touched down quake-hit Nepal that has declared a state of emergency in the wake of the disaster caused, the worst in over 80 years of Nepal’s recorded history. Rescuers have been hunting for survivors under heaps of debris with bare hands as well as heavy equipment though the efforts have been hampered due to fresh tremors and thunderstorms.

Locals and tourists sifted through mounds of debris for survivors. Cheers rose when people were found alive, thought mostly bodies were pulled out. The earthquake and the aftershocks left behind a trail of death and destruction, flattening houses and buildings, including the iconic Dharhara tower and the landmark Darbar Square in the heart of the capital, trapping scores of people. Thousands of people spent last night in the open in chilly weather, anticipating more aftershocks.

1,053 people are reported killed in the Kathmandu Valley alone. Officials fear the death toll could rise as desperate search for survivors continued.

According to initial reports related to today’s aftershock, a tunnel caved in at the Trishuli Hydel Project and around 60 labourers are feared trapped. MI-17 helicopters of the Indian Air Force (IAF) have carried out five casualty evacuation sorties and the injured have been moved to military hospitals.

As many as 17 Mount Everest climbers, including foreigners, were reportedly killed in an avalanche triggered by the earthquake. Over 5,000 people were also injured in the earthquake and the dozen aftershocks that continued till today, with the strongest measuring 6.7 on the Richter Scale. Climbers on Mount Everest said they saw fresh series of avalanches and a big landslide in the base camp. International teams, including from India, have touched down quake-hit Nepal that has declared a state of emergency in the wake of the disaster caused, the worst in over 80 years of Nepal’s recorded history. Rescuers have been hunting for survivors under heaps of debris with bare hands as well as heavy equipment though the efforts have been hampered due to fresh tremors and thunderstorms.

Locals and tourists sifted through mounds of debris for survivors. Cheers rose when people were found alive, thought mostly bodies were pulled out. The earthquake and the aftershocks left behind a trail of death and destruction, flattening houses and buildings, including the iconic Dharhara tower and the landmark Darbar Square in the heart of the capital, trapping scores of people. Thousands of people spent last night in the open in chilly weather, anticipating more aftershocks.

1,053 people are reported killed in the Kathmandu Valley alone. Officials fear the death toll could rise as desperate search for survivors continued.

According to initial reports related to today’s aftershock, a tunnel caved in at the Trishuli Hydel Project and around 60 labourers are feared trapped. MI-17 helicopters of the Indian Air Force (IAF) have carried out five casualty evacuation sorties and the injured have been moved to military hospitals.

As many as 17 Mount Everest climbers, including foreigners, were reportedly killed in an avalanche triggered by the earthquake. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for a high-level meeting at 3.30 p.m. today to review the situation, following fresh earthquake in Nepal, and to take stock of the relief work. The Prime Minister’s Office took to twitter to share the news. “Today at 3:30 PM the Prime Minister has called a high level meeting to review the situation arising due to the Earthquake,” the PMO tweeted.

“The review meeting called by the PM at 3:30pm will be looking at the relief work and other issues arising due to the Earthquake,” it added.

Fresh tremors were felt across Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Assam earlier in the day after an earthquake of 6.7 magnitude hit east of Kathmandu. Residents evacuated buildings and rushed out in the open after tremors hit the northern region.Strong aftershock hit Nepal and parts of north India on Sunday, a day after the Himalayan nation was hit by an earthquake of magnitude of 7.9. It triggered another avalanche in the HImalayas.

The United States Geological Survey said the tremor was 6.7 magnitude, less than the 7.9 quake that struck the region on Saturday killing at least 1,900 people. Parts of north and east India too experienced the tremors. Experts have said that more aftershocks may follow for a few days, as TV channel reports. A total fo 35 aftershocks have hit the HImalayan region so far, report added.

12:45 IST Sunday, 26 April 2015

17 climbers dead in quake-triggered avalanche on Mt Everest

At least 17 bodies have been recovered at the base camp on Mount Everest where hundreds of climbers, including many foreigners, are stranded after an avalanche triggered by Nepal’s massive earthquake slammed into a part of the camp on the world’s highest peak. More than 60 climbers were injured and hundreds of foreign adventurers, hikers and guides at the base camp were feared missing when the avalanche swept down the Everest and buried under snow a section of the mountaineering camp yesterday.

Twenty-two of the most seriously injured climbers were today ferried by helicopters, including from the Indian Air Force, to Pheriche village, the nearest medical facility, though bad weather is hampering rescue and relief operations. There were more than 100 climbers also at camps 1 and 2 on Mount Everest, above the base camp, and all are reported safe, Nepal Mountaineering Association officials said today, adding it will take time before these people can be evacuated.

11:31 IST Sunday, 26 April 2015

India is with Nepal in this hour of crisis. We will do all we can to help Nepal, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said during the Mann Ki Baat show.

11:04 IST Sunday, 26 April 2015
Hospitals in Nepal struggling to attend to injured quake survivors

Hospitals in Nepal are reported to be struggling to cope with providing treatment to survivors of Saturday’s earthquake, which has claimed the lives of  over 1900 people and injured another 4700.

The earthquake, said to be the worst in 81 years, has left a trail of devastation and shocked citizens and hospital authorities have confirmed that they are struggling to receive or give timely treatment. Reports said that medical supplies are short and patients with serious injuries are dying.

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Vehicle falls into river Chenab on J&K highway, 4 dead

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Vehicle falls into river Chenab on J&K highway, 4 dead

Posted on 25 April 2015 by GGS News

Jammu, 25 Apr : (PTI) Four persons were killed and six others injured when the vehicle they were travelling in skidded off the road and rolled down into Chenab river on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway in Ramban district today.

The persons on board Tata Sumo vehicle were on their way to Srinagar from here when the mishap took place at Nehad belt in Ramban, a senior police officer said.

Four persons were killed and their bodies have been recovered, the officer said, adding, two others are missing and rescue operation is on.

They are believed to have been washed away by strong current of the river.

The six injured passengers were rescued and taken to a hospital, he said.

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West Bengal civic polls hit by violence, TMC worker shot dead

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West Bengal civic polls hit by violence, TMC worker shot dead

Posted on 25 April 2015 by GGS News

Kolkata, 25 Apr : One person was shot dead and another received bullet injuries in West Bengal during polling for 91 civic bodies on Saturday.

The voter turnout in the first four hours of the polling, amid violence and earthquake, was 42 percent, an official said.

While one person – Indrajit Singh – said to be a Trinamool Congress activist, was shot dead at Katwa in Burdwan, another suffered bullet injuries in North 24 Parganas district.

“He (Singh) was shot dead by unidentified miscreants. We have sought a report on the incident, senior police officials are at the spot and we are taking all measures to preserve peace and security,” Burdwan district magistrate Saumitra Mohan said.

Trinamool leaders have pointed fingers at Congress activists regarding Singh’s killing.

“Around 42.5 percent of polling was reported till 12 p.m. We have received reports of violence from several districts including Burdwan, North 24 Parganas and Bankura. We are looking into them and taking all measures to ensure security,” officer on special duty (OSD), state election commission Sabyasachi Ghosh said.

Polling in several districts including Murshidabad and Siliguri was temporarily suspended after massive tremors, lasting over a minute, were felt following a 7.5-magnitude earthquake that hit Nepal on Saturday.

“Four elderly voters had to be taken to a hospital after they felt dizzy following the tremors. We had to suspend polling for a brief while as they was panic due to the polls,” said a presiding officer in Murshidabad.

Reports of voting being disrupted or suspended briefly due to the tremors were also reported from Siliguri and North 24 Parganas district, an official said.

In North 24-Parganas’ Titagarh, a voter was allegedly shot in his leg while Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Govind Pal alleged that Trinamool miscreants fired bullets at him but he escaped unhurt.

There were reports of crude bombs being hurled at several places across North 24 Parganas, Burdwan and Bankura districts. Several crude bombs were recovered by police in Sonamukhi town in Bankura district.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from Darjeeling S.S. Ahluwalia alleged that several party candidates contesting for the Siliguri Municipality polls and activists were assaulted by Trinamool goons.

“Since midnight, our people have come under intense attack by Trinamool goons. Our candidates have been beaten up, party activists and polling agent been assaulted. There is a reign of terror unleashed by Trinamool,” said Ahluwalia.

CPI-M leader Sujan Chakraborty charged the ruling Trinamool of turning the polls into a ‘farce’ yet again like the April 18 Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) polls.

“After the KMC polls, the Trinamool is hell bent to turn these polls also into a farce. Yet again the State Election Commission has been an utter failure,” said Chakraborty.

TMC secretary-general Partha Chatterjee rubbished the allegations and said the polls are peaceful.

Around 74 lakh people will cast their votes to decide the fate of 7,636 candidates contesting for 1,946 wards of the 91 municipal bodies — one Notified Area, two Municipal Corporations (Siliguri and Chandannagar) and 88 municipalities — spread across north and south Bengal.

Of 8,756 polling stations, 2,318 have been identified as sensitive and 2,142 as hypersensitive by the poll panel. Besides a large number police personnel, 35 companies of central forces have been deployed for the polls.

The results will be declared on April 28, 2015.

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US seeks clarification from India over putting Ford Foundation on ‘watch list’

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US seeks clarification from India over putting Ford Foundation on ‘watch list’

Posted on 25 April 2015 by GGS News

Washington, 25 Apr : The United States expressed concern on Friday over India’s crackdown on Ford Foundation and Greenpeace, and said it is seeking “clarification” on the action.

“We are aware that the (Indian) ministry of home affairs suspended the registration of Greenpeace India and has placed the Ford Foundation on a prior permission watch list,” the state deputy acting spokesperson, Marie Harf, told reporters at her daily news conference.

“We remain concerned about the difficulties caused to civil society organisations by the manner in which the Foreign Contributions Regulations Act has been applied,” she said in response to a question.

“We are concerned that this recent ruling limits the necessary and critical debate within Indian society and we are seeking a clarification on this issue with the appropriate Indian authorities,” Harf said.

In a crackdown on foreign fundings to NGOs, the Union home ministry has put the Ford Foundation of the US on its “watch list” and ordered that all funds coming from the international organisation have to be routed only with its nod due to “national security concerns”.

Early this month, the home ministry had frozen seven bank accounts of Greenpeace India and barred it from receiving foreign funds for allegedly violating FCRA and “prejudicially” affecting the country’s public and economic interests.

The home ministry said it had decided to keep a watch on all activities funded by Ford Foundation, and by exercising the powers conferred under Section 46 of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act 2010, directed the Reserve Bank of India to ensure that funds coming from it be brought to the notice of the home ministry.

The ministry said it wanted to ensure that funds coming from Ford Foundation was utilised for “bonafide welfare activities without compromising on concerns of national interest and security”.

The move came after the Gujarat government asked the home ministry to take action against Ford Foundation as it alleged that the US-based organisation was “interfering in the internal affairs” of the country and also “abetting communal disharmony” through an NGO run by social activist Teesta Setalvad.

Ford Foundation responded by saying it had been and continue to be deeply respectful of the laws of the land. “We are confident in our work and compliance with the law and look forward to the outcome of this inquiry. If the government suggests methods by which we can strengthen and improve our grant-making processes, we will take appropriate steps to incorporate them,” Ford Foundation said in a statement.

The American philanthropy, founded by Ford Motor Company founder Henry Ford’s son, came to India on an invite from then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1952 — its first step outside the US. It has donated heavily to IIT-Bombay, Jamia Milia Islamia, Wildlife SOS, Tata Institute of Social Sciences and Aga Khan Foundation for their programmes over the years.

But the foundation came under scrutiny for its grants to Setalvad and Manish Sisodia’s NGO Kabir, which was in the news during Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal’s anti-corruption movement of 2011.

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‘Switzerland is the world’s happiest country’

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‘Switzerland is the world’s happiest country’

Posted on 24 April 2015 by GGS News

NEW YORK, 24 Apr :  (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Switzerland has the world’s happiest people, according to researchers in a study released on Thursday.

In the annual World Happiness Report, Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Canada followed in the rankings that measured happiness and well-being levels in 158 countries.

The study, produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), found the most unhappy people lived in Togo, Burundi, Syria, Benin and Rwanda.

“The aspiration of society is the flourishing of its members,” said Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York, where the report was presented.

“This report gives evidence on how to achieve societal well‐being. It’s not by money alone, but also by fairness, honesty, trust and good health.”

Recognising the importance of happiness and well-being as “universal goals and aspirations in the lives of people around the world,” the United Nations General Assembly established The International Day of Happiness in 2012.

The study, which was first released in 2012, looked at such factors as healthy life expectancy, the presence of social support systems, freedom to make choices and gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, that determine most of the variations in people’s well-being over time and among countries.

For the first time, researchers broke down the data by gender, age and region.

They found that, on average, women’s assessments of their happiness were slightly higher than those of men, and that young people globally are happier than older people.

Nine of the top 10 countries this year were also at the top in the 2013 study, athough the ranking has changed. In 2013, Denmark held the top spot.

Changes in how people evaluated their lives comparing data from the 2005-2007 period to 2012-2014 showed the impact of the global financial crisis on national happiness.

For example, Greece, which was badly hit by the economic recession, saw a considerable drop in the happiness of its people.

Marred by political and civil unrest, Egypt also saw a drop in happiness, followed by Italy, which ranked number 50.

“Of the 125 countries with data available for both 2005-2007 and 2012-2014, there were 53 countries with significant improvements, 41 with significant worsening, and 36 without significant change,” said the report.

People’s happiness and well-being should be taken into account in the new Sustainable Development Goals that will adopted by the United Nations later this year, experts said.

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Ford Foundation put under MHA watchlist in ‘national interest’

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Ford Foundation put under MHA watchlist in ‘national interest’

Posted on 24 April 2015 by GGS News

Dalhi, 24 Apr : (PTI) Cracking down on Ford Foundation, one of the most powerful international funding organisations, Ministry of Home Affairs has ordered that it be put under a watchlist in “national interest and security ” of the country.

Economic Times had reported on Friday that Greenpeace type of action would be taken against Ford Foundation.

Putting Ford Foundation on prior permission list, MHA has ordered that all the funds coming from Ford Foundation, US, for any agency or NGOs in country will first need to be cleared by the ministry. The action has been taken under section 46 of the FCRA.

MHA has asked the RBI to instruct all banks and their branches to ensure that any fund flow from Ford Foundation will first be cleared by the ministry.

About $5 million in grants by the Ford Foundation, arguably the biggest such international funding agency, have been blocked by the Indian government in the past few months, top officials told ET last week on condition of anonymity. The ostensible reason is that the recipient non-governmental organisations (NGOs) haven’t filed annual reports and balance sheets with the home ministry. This also includes about $100,000 in grants to the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).

The Narendra Modi government has suspended the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, or FCRA, license that allows Greenpeace India to get funds from overseas.

The suspension of Greenpeace’s FCRA licence came after the government prevented a member of the organisation from travelling to the UK to speak to lawmakers there about the rights of indigenous communities. NGOs have been on their guard after a leaked 2014 Intelligence Bureau report said such organisations were creating hurdles to development.

To be sure, the foundation has been on the radar of Indian intelligence agencies for decades, on account of which the finance ministry was mandated to clear each grant that it made to NGOs. This scrutiny intensified after it became known that the Anna Hazare-led anti-corruption movement of 2011 got a boost from the foundation with Arvind Kejriwal’s NGO Kabir getting about $400,000.

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