Indo-Asian News Service, Updated: November 19, 2011 23:21 IST
London: Saudi women with attractive eyes may be forced to cover them up under a new law in the country.
The ultra-conservative Islamic state has said it has the right to stop women revealing ‘tempting’ eyes in public.
A proposal to enshrine the measure in law has been tabled, Daily Mail reported Saturday quoting Sheikh Motlab al Nabet, spokesperson for Saudi Arabia’s Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice.
Women in Saudi Arabia already have to wear a long black cloak, called an abaya, cover their hair and, in some regions, conceal their faces while in public.
If they do not, they face punishment including fines and public floggings.
The proposal was made after a member of the committee was attracted by a woman’s eyes as he walked along a street, provoking a fight, one report on the Bikya Masr news website suggested.
The woman was walking with her husband who ended up being stabbed twice in the hand after the altercation.
The virtue and vice committee has repeatedly been accused of human rights violations. Founded in 1940, its function is to ensure that Islamic laws are not broken in public in Saudi Arabia.
In 2002, the committee refused to allow female students out of a burning school in the holy city of Mecca because they were not wearing correct head cover. The decision is thought to have contributed to the high death toll of 15.
They are also banned from driving by religious edict and cannot travel without authorisation from their male guardians.
Read more at: NDTV
BALI (INDONESIA), Nov 18 – Against the backdrop of the South China Sea issue row, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today told his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao that India’s oil exploration in the disputed maritime area is “purely commercial activity” even as the two sides agreed that there was enough space and areas for them to work together, reports PTI.
A range of issues, including the situation along the Line of Actual Control and trade was discussed during the 55-minute meeting with Singh saying India was committed to developing the “best of relations” with China while the latter underlined that the two countries should work “hand-in-hand” to ensure that the 21st century belongs to Asia.
“This matter did come up in the context of East Asia Summit (taking place here tomorrow),” Secretary (East) in the External Affairs Ministry Sanjay Singh told reporters when asked whether the issue of Chinese objections to India’s exploration of oil in South China Sea figured in the talks between Singh and Wen.
The Prime Minister “observed that exploration of oil and gas in South China Sea by India is purely commercial activity”, the Secretary said about the issue that has caused irritation in the ties between the two countries in the recent past.
The issue appears to have been raised by Wen.
External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash told reporters that the Chinese Premier said that “he valued the role India is playing in the EAS. In that context, there was a mention of South China Sea to which the Prime Minister said our interests are purely commercial.”
China, which lays claim over entire South China Sea, had openly attacked India in September over its move to explore oil in the maritime area on offer from Vietnam. It had evoked a sharp retort from India.
This was coupled with an incident in which an Indian Naval ship INS Airavat was threatened by the Chinese Navy while moving in that area.
In the context of China’s claim over the entire South China Sea, Singh told Wen that “the issue of sovereignty should be resolved according to international law and practice”.
India asserts that since it was not clearly defined that the maritime area belongs wholly to China, the laws of the sea will apply.
Source: Assam Tribune
BALI (INDONESIA), Nov 18 – On a day Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh met US President Barack Obama, India and China sought to defuse the growing tensions, reiterating that there was enough space for both the countries to flourish.
While he exchanged notes with US President, Dr Singh and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao expressed satisfaction at the progress of the Special Representative-level talks to resolve the boundary issue.
Starting his first working day in this picturesque resort township, the Prime Minister held a series of meetings with world leaders on the sidelines of the Ninth ASEAN Summit. He first met the US President and then the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.
Both Dr Singh and Obama declared their intention to push the Indo-US cooperation at bilateral, regional and global levels. Prime minister said that there are no irritants whatsoever in working together with USA.
“We have made progress in every direction, strengthening our bilateral cooperation – in the economy, investment, trade, in the field of higher education, in the field of clean energy, and strategy and defense relations,” Dr Singh said.
“It’s a privilege for India to find you and your administration as deeply invested in ensuring that India makes a success of its historic journey to have the social and economic transformation carried out in the framework of an open society, a democratic polity, committed to the rule of law, and respect for full human freedom,” he said.
In response, Obama, recalling his visit to India said, “Since that time, we’ve continued to make progress on a wide range of issues. The bonds between our countries are not just at the leadership level, but they’re, obviously, at the person-to-person level given the extraordinary contributions of Indian Americans to our culture, our politics, and our economy.”
“This will be an outstanding opportunity for us to continue to explore how we can work together, not only on bilateral issues but also in multilateral fora, like the East Asia Summit, which we believe can be the premier arena for us to be able to work together on a wide range of issues, such as maritime security or non-proliferation, as well as expanding the kind of cooperation on disaster relief and humanitarian aid that’s so important,” he said.
Meanwhile, in an attempt to defuse rising tensions following exchange of words over troop deployment along the international border, Dr Singh and the Chinese Premier sought to play down the reports of massive troop build-up by both the sides along the border in Arunachal Pradesh and alleged Chinese support to Indian insurgent groups like Paresh Barua faction of ULFA and the Maoists.
The Prime Minister told Wen that India was committed to developing the “best of relations” with China while Beijing underlined that the two countries should work “hand-in-hand” to ensure that the 21st century belongs to Asia.
“We are neighbours and also large growing economies of Asia. We should cooperate bilaterally and globally,” Singh reportedly told Wen during a meeting that lasted for 55 minutes. There had been “positive impact” whenever the two countries had cooperated on issues such as climate change, the Prime Minister told newsmen after the delegation-level talks at Hotel Laguna where Wen is staying.
Though officials were tight lipped over what transpired at the rather long meeting, which was also joined by National Security Adviser, Shiv Shankar Menon, sources said that the issue of boundary demarcation did figure in the discussions. Both the leaders expressed satisfaction at the progress of the ongoing Special Representative-level discussions.
India and China have firmed up the mechanism to maintain peace and tranquillity at the un-demarcated international boundary.
“It is important for our two countries, the most populous in the world, to achieve modernization and work hand in hand,” the Chinese leader said, adding that he was “fully confident that kind of world will arrive”.
Indian officials are curious over the mixed signals coming from Beijing. Two days before the meeting between Dr Singh and Wen Jiabao, China’s People’s Daily commented that India’s decision to beef up the security along the border with China by deploying 1 lakh additional troops was a “sensitive move”, which would result in raising tensions and harming New Delhi’s interests.
“The action is completely not worthwhile. Currently, India has 40,000 troops in the disputed area, and if the further 100,000 is deployed, the total number of the troops will reach 140,000″, an article carried by official daily said.
“It will result in a tense situation in the region and harm India’s own interests. Increasing troops on the border area is always a sensitive move and it is especially sensitive to increase troops on a disputed border area”, it said.
The People’s Daily commentary today said decreasing growth rates in India is making it “very difficult to considerably increase military spending for military build up amid the economic downturn, so India needs to first create a tense atmosphere and transfer domestic problems in hopes of securing more military spending”.
Press Trust of India, Updated: November 17, 2011 01:42 IST
Karachi: Three suicide bombers blew up their explosives-laden van when they were challenged by police on the seafront of Karachi in southern Pakistan on Wednesday, killing two policemen.
The three terrorists were travelling in the explosives-laden van when police asked them to stop in seaview area of Karachi at about 10 pm.
The men were killed when they detonated the explosives in the van, Superintendent of Police Tariq Dharejo told the media.
“Police tried to stop the vehicle and they blew themselves up. The three men were killed and we have found weapons at the spot… One of the men was wearing a (suicide) vest,” Dharejo said.
Two policemen, who were chasing the van on a motorcycle, were wounded by the blast.
Both of them succumbed to their injuries later, police officials said.
The blast occurred in an uninhabited area along the seafront located a short distance from a park and a restaurant.
“The policemen were chasing the Suzuki high-roof and exchange of fire took place and after a chase the men in the car apparently detonated themselves resulting in the blast,” an official said.
The bombers may have been planning to target a hotel or a ‘mela’ (fair) to be held in the area, officials said. TV news channels said intelligence agencies had warned of a possible attack with an explosives-laden vehicle in Karachi.
Footage on television showed the body of one of the alleged terrorists, a bearded man wearing a shalwar-kameez. The bloodied body lay a short distance from the mangled debris of the van, which was destroyed by the blast.
Police found several suicide vests, grenades, night vision goggles, AK-47s, a wig and a burqa in the wreckage of the van, officials said.
A bomb disposal squad was called in to defuse the suicide vests and grenades.
The wig and burqa apparently gave rise to speculation that a woman was present in the van with the terrorists.
This is the second suicide blast in the same area in Karachi. On September 19, terrorists rammed an explosive-laden truck into the residence of a senior police official of the anti-terrorism wing, killing eight people.
Read more at: NDTV
WASHINGTON, Nov 11 – Aiming to strengthen its ties with countries in the Asia-Pacific region, the US has said it wants to actively support India’s Look East policy and is committed to broader, deeper and more purposeful ties with it, reports PTI.
“Our ability to build a successful regional architecture will turn on our ability to work effectively with the emerging powers, countries like Indonesia, or India, Singapore, New Zealand, Malaysia, Mongolia, Vietnam, Brunei, and the Pacific Island countries,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in her remarks at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii.
As such the US is making a concerted effort to build closer and more extensive partnerships with all these nations, she said.
“India and Indonesia in particular are two of the most dynamic and significant democratic powers in the world, and the United States is committed to broader, deeper, more purposeful relations with each. And we want to actively support India’s Look East policy as it grows into an Act East policy,” Clinton said.
From the very beginning, the Obama administration embraced the importance of the Asia Pacific region, she said.
Clinton said that so many global trends point to Asia — it is home to nearly half the world’s population, it boasts several of the largest and fastest-growing economies and some of the world’s busiest ports and shipping lanes, and it also presents consequential challenges such as military build-ups, concerns about the proliferation of nuclear weapons, natural disasters, and the world’s worst levels of greenhouse gas emissions.
It is becoming increasingly clear that in the 21st century, the world’s strategic and economic centre of gravity will be the Asia Pacific, from the Indian subcontinent to the western shores of Americas, she said.
And one of the most important tasks of American statecraft over the next decades will be to lock in a substantially increased investment – diplomatic, economic, strategic and otherwise – in this region, she said.
Source: Assam Tribune
Associated Press, Updated: October 30, 2011 10:19 IST
Beijing: A gas explosion at a coal mine in central China has killed 29 workers, Chinese authorities said Sunday.
Six other miners survived Saturday evening’s blast at a state-owned coal mine in Hengyang city in Hunan province, China’s State Administration of Work Safety said in a statement on its website.
Five of the workers were rescued, while one climbed out of an air shaft of the Xialiuchong Coal Mine, the statement said.
The work safety administration said rescue work was complete as no other miners were working at the time of the explosion.
Song Yuanming, the chief of the provincial coal mine safety bureau, told state broadcaster CCTV that there was a large outburst of gas in the mine 250 meters (820 feet) underground that was ignited by sparks produced by machines.
CCTV said that the mine’s operating license had been revoked in the first half of this year because it did not adopt measures to pump out dangerous gases from underground, but that the mine continued production without permission.
China’s coal mines are the most dangerous in the world. Demand for coal induces many producers to sidestep safety regulations, although conditions have improved and a number of small, illegal mines have been shut. Annual fatalities are now about one-third of the high of nearly 7,000 in 2002.
Read more at: NDTV
Associated Press, Updated: October 28, 2011 17:31 IST
Perth: The 16 Commonwealth countries for which Queen Elizabeth II is monarch agreed on Friday that males will no longer have precedence over females in the order of succession to the throne.
Commonwealth national leaders also agreed at a summit in the western Australian city of Perth to lift a ban on monarchs marrying Roman Catholics, British Prime Minister David Cameron said.
Any one of the former British colonies could have vetoed the changes to the centuries-old rules that ensure that a male heir takes the throne ahead of older sisters.
“Attitudes have changed fundamentally over the centuries and some of the outdated rules – like some of the rules of succession – just don’t make sense to us any more,” Cameron told reporters in Perth.
“The idea that a younger son should become monarch instead of an elder daughter simply because he is a man, or that a future monarch can marry someone of any faith except a Catholic – this way of thinking is at odds with the modern countries that we have become,” he added.
Cameron made the announcement on the first day of a biennial meeting of 53 Commonwealth leaders.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Australia’s first female leader and chairwoman of the summit, welcomed the decision.
“These things seem straightforward, but just because they seem straightforward to our modern minds doesn’t mean we should underestimate their historic significance,” Gillard told reporters.
Elizabeth II is head of state of Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Grenada, Belize, St. Christopher and Nevis, St. Lucia, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Papua New Guinea.
She opened the meeting of leaders representing 30 percent of the world’s population on Friday by vowing to bring needed relevancy to the Commonwealth in a time of global uncertainty and insecurity.
The queen cited financial concerns, food supply insecurity and climate change among key issues she expected the forum to tackle.
“This Commonwealth meeting is, for its part, the perfect opportunity to address these issues and find responses for today’s crises and challenges,” she said in her opening address.
The queen also said the meeting would bring “new vibrancy” to the Commonwealth forum, which will be forced to defend itself against accusations of irrelevancy. A scathing report questioning its effectiveness will be presented to Commonwealth leaders during the summit.
Britain’s government began the process of reviewing the rules of royal succession so that if Prince William’s first child is a girl, she would eventually become queen. The review started before William married commoner Kate Middleton in April. She is now formally known as Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.
William is second in line to the throne after his father, Prince Charles, who is the queen’s first-born child. Charles’ sister Anne is lower in the line of succession than her younger brothers Andrew and Edward. Charles, in turn, had only sons, William and Harry.
Elizabeth II succeeded her father, King George VI, because he had no sons. If she had had a brother, however much younger he was, he would have jumped above her in the line of succession.
The thorny issue of the succession has been an on-and-off topic in Britain, but has never been resolved. In 2009, then Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s government considered a bill that would end the custom of putting males ahead of females in the succession line, as well as lift a ban on British monarchs marrying Roman Catholics. The government did not have time to pursue it before Brown’s term ended.
The rule has excluded women from succeeding to the throne in the past. Queen Victoria’s first child was a daughter – also called Victoria – but it was her younger brother who succeeded to the throne, as King Edward VII.
Buckingham Palace has always refrained from commenting on the political issue, saying it’s a matter for the government to decide.
Read more at: NDTV
Press Trust of India, Updated: October 28, 2011 14:00 IST
Islamabad: Pakistan today test fired the nuclear-capable Hatf-7 cruise missile. The missile has a range of 700 km that can hit targets in India.
The test of the “indigenously developed multi-tube” cruise missile system was successful, said a statement issued by the military.
The Hatf-7 or Babur missile has stealth capabilities and can carry nuclear and conventional warheads, the Pakistani military said. The test was witnessed by Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee Khalid Shameem Wyne.
President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani congratulated the scientists and engineers on their achievement.
Read more at: NDTV
Agence France Presse, Updated: October 28, 2011 15:43 IST
Perth: Australia’s Perth Mint unveiled on Thursday what it says is the world’s largest gold bullion coin, weighing more than a tonne and worth Aus$53.5 million (US$55 million).
Embossed on one side with a leaping kangaroo and on the other with the profile of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, the coin was revealed in time to mark this week’s Commonwealth summit to be opened by the monarch.
With a denomination of Aus$1 million, the coin was “the pinnacle of ingenuity and innovation”, Perth Mint chief executive Ed Harbuz said.
“To cast and handcraft a coin of this size and weight was an incredible challenge — one which few other mints would even consider,” he added.
The massive coin weighs some 1,012 kilograms and is 99.99 percent pure gold. It is close to 80 centimetres wide and is more than 12 centimetres thick.
It took the historic mint some 18 months to produce the golden disc which will now go on public exhibition.
The Perth Mint opened in 1899 after the discovery of gold in Western Australia and it became the nation’s third branch of Britain’s Royal Mint. Ownership was transferred to the Western Australian government in 1970.
Read more at: NDTV
Kabul: A bomb hidden inside a fuel truck in a central Afghan province exploded as scores of people gathered around the vehicle to collect fuel that was leaking, killing at least five in a blast that shattered a period of relative quiet in the war-ravaged nation, officials said on Wednesday.
The explosion, around 8 pm on Tuesday, occurred in Parwan province, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of the capital, Kabul. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the blast represents the first major attack since an assault on the US Embassy in Kabul last month.
Dozens had gathered around the fuel truck to collect fuel that was leaking, said Kabir Ahmad, the district chief of Parwan province’s Bagram district. Suddenly, the truck exploded, he said.
At least three people were killed at the scene, said Khalil Farhangi, the province’s hospital chief.
Kabir Amiri, who oversees all of Kabul’s hospitals, says 47 people were wounded and two of them subsequently died, raising the death toll to five so far. He said at least about 10 people suffered extensive burns.
The al-Qaida and Taliban-linked Haqqani network, which operates out of Pakistan, have been blamed for many of the recent spectacular attacks in and around Kabul.
The U.S. and Afghanistan have urged Pakistan to do more to rein in or combat the network, and NATO earlier this month launched a major operation involving tens of thousands of coalition and Afghan forces to target insurgents along Afghanistan’s eastern border with Pakistan.
Read more at: NDTV