Metrovaartha http://www.metrovaartha.com/ en-us Fri, 14 Aug 2020 00:00:00 +0530 Modi has longest tenure as head of elected government among all PMs http://www.english.metrovaartha.com/news/25616/modi-has-longest-tenure-as-head-of-elected-government-among-all-pms http://www.english.metrovaartha.com/news/25616/modi-has-longest-tenure-as-head-of-elected-government-among-all-pms Fri, 14 Aug 2020 12:57:26 +0530 ]]>Narendra Modi has not only become the longest-serving non-Congress prime minister of the country but he also has the longest tenure as head of an elected government, which includes his term of more than 12 years as Gujarat chief minister, among all PMs. New Delhi | Narendra Modi has not only become the longest-serving non-Congress prime minister of the country but he also has the longest tenure as head of an elected government, which includes his term of more than 12 years as Gujarat chief minister, among all PMs.

BJP sources pointed out on Friday that Modi's term first as chief minister and now as prime minister is over 18 years and 306 days as of now.

Jawaharlal Nehru, the country's first prime minister who never headed a state government, served at the helm at the Centre for 16 years and 286 days.  Indira Gandhi comes third in the length of her tenure as an elected head of a government with a term of 15 years and 350 days as PM. Like her father, she was also never a chief minister.

Though there have been several chief ministers, including Jyoti Basu of West Bengal and Pawan Kumar Chamling of Sikkim, who have served for a longer period as head of an elected government than Modi but they were never prime minister.

With the BJP's preeminent leader set to serve as prime minister for at least four more years, his record is likely to stay for a very long time, sources said.

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UN chief welcomes Israel, UAE agreement http://www.english.metrovaartha.com/news/25615/un-chief-welcomes-israel--uae-agreement http://www.english.metrovaartha.com/news/25615/un-chief-welcomes-israel--uae-agreement Fri, 14 Aug 2020 12:39:08 +0530 ]]>UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has welcomed the agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates to establish full diplomatic ties, expressing hope that the accord will lead to Israeli and Palestinian leaders re-engaging in "meaningful negotiations" for a two state-solution. United Nations | UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has welcomed the agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates to establish full diplomatic ties, expressing hope that the accord will lead to Israeli and Palestinian leaders re-engaging in "meaningful negotiations" for a two state-solution.

The joint statement by US President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan suspends Israeli annexation plans over parts of the occupied West Bank, which a UN spokesperson said was something the Secretary-General has consistently called for.

"The Secretary-General welcomes this agreement, hoping it will create an opportunity for Israeli and Palestinian leaders to re-engage in meaningful negotiations that will realise a two State-solution in line with relevant United Nations resolutions, international laws and bilateral agreements," the statement said on Thursday.

The UN chief said peace in the Middle East was imperative as the region confronts the grave threats of COVID-19 and radicalisation.

“The Secretary-General will continue to work with all sides to open further possibilities for dialogue, peace and stability,” the statement said, adding that annexation would effectively close the door for a renewal of negotiations and destroy the prospect of a viable Palestinian State and the two-State solution.

In a major diplomatic breakthrough, the UAE on Thursday became the first Gulf country and the third in the Arab world to establish diplomatic relations with Israel as part of a deal to halt the controversial annexation of parts of the West Bank that Palestinians see as a part of their future state.

Trump took to Twitter to break the news, saying, “Huge breakthrough today. Historic Peace Agreement between our two GREAT friends, Israel and the United Arab Emirates!”.

A White House announcement said that the leaders of the US, Israel and the UAE “spoke today and agreed to the full normalisation of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates”.

A joint statement from the United States, Israel and the UAE said that "this historic diplomatic breakthrough will advance peace in the Middle East region and is a testament to the bold diplomacy and vision of the three leaders and the courage of the United Arab Emirates and Israel to chart a new path that will unlock the great potential in the region”.

Close neighbours, Jordan and Egypt, are the only two other Arab states to have diplomatic ties with Israel under peace agreements that have weathered several storms over the decades to hold firm.

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Officials: U.S. seizes Iranian gas heading for Venezuela http://www.english.metrovaartha.com/news/25614/officials--u-s--seizes-iranian-gas-heading-for-venezuela http://www.english.metrovaartha.com/news/25614/officials--u-s--seizes-iranian-gas-heading-for-venezuela Fri, 14 Aug 2020 12:30:41 +0530 ]]>The Trump administration has seized the cargo of four tankers it was targeting for transporting Iranian fuel to Venezuela, U.S. officials said Thursday, as it steps up its campaign of maximum pressure against the two heavily sanctioned allies. Miami (US) | The Trump administration has seized the cargo of four tankers it was targeting for transporting Iranian fuel to Venezuela, U.S. officials said Thursday, as it steps up its campaign of maximum pressure against the two heavily sanctioned allies.

Last month, federal prosecutors in Washington filed a civil forfeiture complaint alleging that the sale was arranged by a businessman, Mahmoud Madanipour, with ties to Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization.

At the time, sanctions experts thought it would be impossible to enforce the U.S. court order in international waters.

A senior U.S. official told The Associated Press that no military force was used in the seizures and that the ships weren't physically confiscated.

Rather, U.S. officials threatened ship owners, insurers and captains with sanction to force them to hand over their cargo, which now becomes U.S. property, the official said.

Prosecutors alleged the four ships were transporting to Venezuela 1.1 million barrels of gasoline. But the tankers never arrived at the South American country and then went missing.

Two of the ships later reappeared near Cape Verde, a second U.S. official said.

Both officials agreed to discuss the sensitive diplomatic and judicial offensive only if granted anonymity.

Iran's ambassador to Venezuela, Hojad Soltani, pushed back on what would appear a victory for the U.S. sanctions campaign, saying Thursday on Twitter that neither the ships nor their owners were Iranian.

“This is another lie and act of psychological warfare perpetrated by the U.S. propaganda machine,” Soltani said.

“The terrorist #Trump cannot compensate for his humiliation and defeat by Iran using false propaganda." It is not clear where the vessels — the Bella, Bering, Pandi and Luna — or their cargoes currently are. But the ship captains weeks ago turned off their tracking devices to hide their locations, said Russ Dallen, a Miami-based partner at brokerage Caracas Capital Markets, who follows ship movements.

The Bering went dark on May 11 in the Mediterranean near Greece and has not turned on its transponder since, while the Bella did the same July 2 in the Philippines, Dallen said.

The Luna and Pandi were last spotted when they were together in the Gulf of Oman on July 10 when the U.S. seizure order came. Shipping data shows that the Pandi, which also goes by Andy, is reporting that it has been “broken up,” or sold as scrap, Dallen said.

As commercial traders increasingly shun Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro's socialist government has been increasingly turning to Iran.

In May, Maduro celebrated the arrival of five Iranian tankers delivering badly needed fuel to alleviate shortages that have led to days-long gas lines even in the capital, Caracas, which is normally spared such hardships.

Despite sitting atop the world's largest crude reserves, Venezuela doesn't produce enough domestically refined gasoline and has seen its overall crude production plunge to the lowest in over seven decades amid its economic crisis and fallout from U.S. sanctions.

The Trump administration has been stepping up pressure on ship owners to abide by sanctions against U.S. adversaries like Iran, Venezuela and North Korea.

In May, it issued an advisory urging the global maritime industry to be on the lookout for tactics to evade sanctions like dangerous ship-to-ship transfers and the turning off of mandatory tracking devices — both techniques used in recent oil deliveries to and from both Iran and Venezuela.

One of the companies involved in the shipment to Venezuela, the Avantgarde Group, was previously linked to the Revolutionary Guard and attempts to evade U.S. sanctions, according to prosecutors.

An affiliate of Avantgarde facilitated the purchase for the Revolutionary Guard of the Grace 1, a ship seized last year by Britain on U.S. accusations that it was transporting oil to Syria. Iran denied the charges and the Grace 1 was eventually released.

But the seizure nonetheless triggered an international standoff in which Iran retaliated by seizing a British-flagged vessel.

According to the asset forfeiture complaint, an unnamed company in February invoiced Avantgarde for a USD 14.9 million cash payment for the sale of the gasoline aboard the Pandi. Nonetheless, a text message between Madanipour and an unnamed co-conspirator suggest the voyage had encountered difficulties.

“The ship owner doesn't want to go because of the American threat, but we want him to go, and we even agreed We will also buy the ship,” according to the message, an excerpt of which was included in the complaint.

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Gehlot says it will be victory of truth in assembly http://www.english.metrovaartha.com/news/25613/gehlot-says-it-will-be-victory-of-truth-in-assembly- http://www.english.metrovaartha.com/news/25613/gehlot-says-it-will-be-victory-of-truth-in-assembly- Fri, 14 Aug 2020 12:16:29 +0530 ]]>Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said it would be "a victory of truth" during the assembly session that began on Friday. Jaipur | Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said it would be "a victory of truth" during the assembly session that began on Friday.

The Congress government has said Gehlot will seek a vote of confidence after the opposition BJP said it will move a motion of no confidence against it.

The session comes after a month-long political crisis in the state which started with the rebellion by Sachin Pilot and 18 other Congress MLAs. With the disgruntled MLAs back in the party-fold, following the intervention of the top leadership, the Congress is likely to pass the floor test.

Pilot was sacked as the state's deputy chief minister and Gehlot referred to him as “useless”, using the Hindi term “nikamma”. At a CLP meeting Thursday, Gehlot urged Congress MLAs to forget the acrimony of the past month and move on.

"As the Legislative Assembly session begins today, It would be the victory of the people of Rajasthan and the unity of our Congress MLAs, it would be a victory of truth: Satyamev Jayate," Gehlot tweeted Friday.

The House, which began at 11 am, has been adjourned till 1 pm.

In a House of 200, the party has 107 MLAs and the support of independents and allies. The BJP has 72 members.

Special seating arrangements have been made in the House because of the pandemic.

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Celebrating golden jubilee of Gavaskar's Test debut on MCA agenda http://www.english.metrovaartha.com/news/25612/celebrating-golden-jubilee-of-gavaskar-s-test-debut-on-mca-agenda http://www.english.metrovaartha.com/news/25612/celebrating-golden-jubilee-of-gavaskar-s-test-debut-on-mca-agenda Fri, 14 Aug 2020 12:05:36 +0530 ]]>The Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) has come up with the idea of celebrating the golden jubilee of legendary Sunil Gavaskar's Test debut against the West Indies at the Port of Spain in 1971. Mumbai | The Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) has come up with the idea of celebrating the golden jubilee of legendary Sunil Gavaskar's Test debut against the West Indies at the Port of Spain in 1971.

This particular point has been added to the agenda which is listed for the Apex Council meeting now to be held on August 18.

Earlier, the meeting was scheduled to be held today, but was postponed.

The 71-year-old legend was the first batsman to cross the 10,000 runs milestone in Tests. He finished with 10,122 runs in 125 Tests with 34 hundreds and 3092 ODi runs from 108 games.

"To discuss about a plan to celebrate the occasion of Mr. Sunil Gavaskar completing 50 years of his Test Debut on 6th March 2021," read the additional agenda, a copy of which is in possession of PTI.

Apart from this, the MCA is set to discuss about conducting a virtual Annual General Meeting (AGM) in the meeting.

The Apex Council will also be discussing about Association's proposed plan of a cricket museum to be set up at the Wankhede Stadium.

MCA Apex Council members will also deliberate on the letter written by Ankit Chavan, who is facing a life ban for his alleged involvement in 2013 IPL spot fixing saga.

Chavan has sought MCA's help to reconsider his life ban from BCCI.

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Iran says UAE-Israel deal a 'stab in the back' to Muslims http://www.english.metrovaartha.com/news/25611/iran-says-uae-israel-deal-a--stab-in-the-back--to-muslims http://www.english.metrovaartha.com/news/25611/iran-says-uae-israel-deal-a--stab-in-the-back--to-muslims Fri, 14 Aug 2020 11:58:11 +0530 ]]>Iran's Foreign Ministry strongly condemned an historic deal establishing full diplomatic relations between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, calling it a stab in the back to all Muslims, state TV reported on Friday. Tehran | Iran's Foreign Ministry strongly condemned an historic deal establishing full diplomatic relations between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, calling it a stab in the back to all Muslims, state TV reported on Friday.

Iran, in the ministry statement, called the normalising of ties between the two countries a dangerous, "shameful" measure and warned the UAE against Israel interfering in the "political equations" of the Persian Gulf region.

“The UAE government and other accompanying governments must accept responsibility for all the consequences of this action,” the statement said.

In a deal brokered by the US, the UAE and Israel announced on Thursday that they agreed to establish full diplomatic ties and Israel will halt plans for annexation of occupied land sought by the Palestinians for their future state.

The announcement makes the UAE the first Gulf Arab state to do so and only the third Arab nation to have active diplomatic ties to Israel.

Iran said in the state TV report the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and the UAE revealed the “strategic stupidity" of the two countries and said it “will undoubtedly strengthen the axis of resistance in the region.” The ministry statement called the deal a “dagger that was unjustly struck by the UAE in the backs of the Palestinian people and all Muslims.” The historic deal delivered a key foreign policy victory for US President Donald Trump as he seeks re-election and reflected a changing Middle East in which shared concerns about archenemy Iran have largely overtaken traditional Arab support for the Palestinians.

A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the deal amounts to “treason,” and should be reversed Hossein Amirabdollahian, advisor to Iran's Parliament speaker, criticised the deal on his Twitter account on Friday.

“UAE's new approach for normalizing ties w/fake, criminal #Israel doesn't maintain peace & security, but serves ongoing Zionists' crimes," he said.

Iran's former chief of the powerful Revolutionary Guard, Mohsen Rezaei, said in a tweet the UAE has been making itself "the paradise of Israel" for the last 10 years.

“No Muslim zealous warriors and no Arabs betray Palestine, only nerveless stabs from behind,” he said.

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SC holds lawyer Prashant Bhushan guilty of contempt for tweets against judiciary http://www.english.metrovaartha.com/news/25610/sc-holds-lawyer-prashant-bhushan-guilty-of-contempt-for-tweets-against-judiciary http://www.english.metrovaartha.com/news/25610/sc-holds-lawyer-prashant-bhushan-guilty-of-contempt-for-tweets-against-judiciary Fri, 14 Aug 2020 11:36:12 +0530 ]]>The Supreme Court on Friday held activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan guilty of contempt for his two derogatory tweets against the judiciary. New Delhi | The Supreme Court on Friday held activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan guilty of contempt for his two derogatory tweets against the judiciary.

A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra said it would hear on August 20 the arguments on quantum of sentence to be awarded to Bhushan in the matter.

The apex court had on August 5 reserved its verdict in the matter after Bhushan had defended his two tweets, saying they were against the judges regarding their conduct in their personal capacity and they did not obstruct administration of justice.

On July 22, the top court had issued a show cause notice to Bhushan after initiating the criminal contempt against him after taking note of a petition.

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Terrorists gun down two JK policemen outside Srinagar http://www.english.metrovaartha.com/news/25609/terrorists-gun-down-two-jk-policemen-outside-srinagar http://www.english.metrovaartha.com/news/25609/terrorists-gun-down-two-jk-policemen-outside-srinagar Fri, 14 Aug 2020 11:26:11 +0530 ]]>Terrorists fired indicriminately on a Jammu and Kashmir police party in Nowgam on the outskirts of Srinagar city Friday morning, leaving two personnel dead, officials said. Srinagar | Terrorists fired indicriminately on a Jammu and Kashmir police party in Nowgam on the outskirts of Srinagar city Friday morning, leaving two personnel dead, officials said.

Police said terrorists opened fire on the police team near Nowgam bypass, injuring three personnel, who were shifted to a hospital for treatment but two of them succumbed to their injuries.

The area has been cordoned off and a hunt has been launched for the terrorists. 

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Ashok Gehlot to move confidence motion in Rajasthan assembly http://www.english.metrovaartha.com/news/25608/ashok-gehlot-to-move-confidence-motion-in-rajasthan-assembly http://www.english.metrovaartha.com/news/25608/ashok-gehlot-to-move-confidence-motion-in-rajasthan-assembly Fri, 14 Aug 2020 11:15:51 +0530 ]]>A key session of the Rajasthan assembly in which the Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government will move a vote of confidence began Friday. Jaipur | A key session of the Rajasthan assembly in which the Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government will move a vote of confidence began Friday.

The House assembled at 11 am and paid tributes to former MP Governor Lalji Tandon and former Chhattisgarh chief minister Ajit Jogi and other leaders who recently passed away.

After the obituary reference, the Speaker adjourned the House till 1 pm.

Some of the Congress MLAs staying in a hotel here could not reach the assembly on time due to heavy rainfall and traffic congestion.

The city roads are flooded due to incessant rainfall.

The session comes after a month-long political crisis in the state which started with the rebellion by Sachin Pilot and 18 other Congress MLAs.

Special seating arrangements were made in the House to maintain social distancing in view of the coronavirus pandemic.

Changes were also made in the seating arrangements of Pilot and Vishvendra Singh, who were sacked from the state cabinet last month.

While Pilot's chair was placed in the second row from the front, Singh was seen sitting on a separate chair in the last row.

The chief minister chaired a CLP meeting on Thursday where the decision to move the vote of confidence was taken.

The CLP meeting was also attended by the 18 MLAs who had revolted along with Pilot, a party leader had said.

However, the Opposition BJP said on Thursday that the party will move a motion of no confidence against the government.

With the disgruntled MLAs led by Pilot back in the party-fold following the intervention of the top leadership, the Congress is likely to pass the floor test.

In a House of 200, the party has 107 MLAs and the support of independents and allies. The BJP has 72 members.

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US polls: Indians for Biden National Council launched http://www.english.metrovaartha.com/news/25607/us-polls--indians-for-biden-national-council-launched http://www.english.metrovaartha.com/news/25607/us-polls--indians-for-biden-national-council-launched Fri, 14 Aug 2020 10:48:08 +0530 ]]>Celebrating Kamala Harris' selection as the vice presidential candidate for the Democratic Party, Indian-Americans in the US have launched 'Indians for Biden National Council' to campaign for the Indian-origin candidate in the November 3 presidential elections. Washington | Celebrating Kamala Harris' selection as the vice presidential candidate for the Democratic Party, Indian-Americans in the US have launched 'Indians for Biden National Council' to campaign for the Indian-origin candidate in the November 3 presidential elections.

Presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden earlier in the week picked Senator Harris as his running mate, a decision speculated to have been influenced by the Black voters and the influential Indian diaspora. Harris, 55, is of Jamaican and Indian heritage.

The Indians for Biden National Council, under the South Asians for Biden umbrella organisation, was launched on Thursday. It will mobilise Indian-Americans of all faiths and backgrounds for the Biden-Harris campaign and to get other Democrats elected across the country, according to a press statement said.

The council will debut on Saturday at the Indian Independence Day event being hosted by the Biden campaign and the South Asians for Biden organisation.

The former vice president will address Indian-Americans on the occasion. Harris is also scheduled to make an appearance.

Neha Dewan, national director of South Asians for Biden, said it was critical for Indian-Americans and other South Asians to understand what is at stake in the election.

"South Asians for Biden is excited to launch the Indians for Biden National Council to promote a ticket that is reflective of America," Dewan said.

"Joe Biden's experience and know-how, along with Kamala Harris' unrelenting grit and passion for fighting for justice, is exactly what is needed for these unprecedented times. That Senator Kamala Harris is the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India, adds another dimension to this moment," she said.

South Asians for Biden has selected Sanjeev Joshipura as the director of Indians for Biden National Council.

"We are on the cusp of a historic moment with the election of a ticket that features a Black and Indian-American woman,” said Joshipura.

“It is up to us to educate and mobilise the community because the Indian-American community's future hinges on this election,” he said.

The council intends to seize on this historic moment by “working to educate community members about Biden's long history of supporting India and the Indian American community, as well as educating voters of Senator Harris' illustrious career in public service," Joshipura said.

Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) congratulated Harris on being the first woman of colour as a vice presidential pick on a major party's ticket.

The senator from California's Asian American and Black heritage makes her nomination a milestone for both Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPI) and the African-American communities, it said.

"Senator Harris' achievement highlights the very mission of APAICS in promoting representation of AAPIs in all levels of government," said Madalene Xuan-Trang Mielke, president and CEO of APAICS.

"As a national non-partisan, non-profit, we believe in community-wide participation of AAPIs in the electoral process as voters and as candidates. Senator Harris' historic achievement has already inspired and excited the AAPI community," she said.

South Asian Bar Association, North America, in a statement, congratulated Harris on her historic nomination. Harris had delivered the keynote address at SABA's annual conference in 2007 and 2013.

Meanwhile, Sampat Shivangi, national president of Indian American Forum for Political Education, said Harris is a great choice for the Democratic Party under the circumstances.

He said the Democrats needed an African-American or minority group member, or at least a woman candidate for the vice president nomination.

Shinvangi said Harris ticks all the boxes and she also has tremendous fund raising capabilities and a strong administrative background.

"In reality she is not an Indian-American, neither she claims to be one. She claims to be African-American or black American as her father is Jamaican and that counts legally," said Shivangi, who has been elected as a delegate to the Republican National Convention for the fifth consecutive time.

"She always said that she is black American or origin from the Caribbean as you have 15 to 18 percent vote bank in the USA, compared to 2.5 million Indians or nearly 1.1 per cent of the American vote. She has always said she is Baptist and African to, possibly, garner those votes," Shivangi said.

According to Shivangi, Harris as vice presidential nominee will split votes of the Indian Americans. "Some Indian Americans will have a tough decision to make as their loyalty may be towards a so-called candidate of Indian heritage or a candidate of pro-Indian stance such as President Donald Trump," he said.

"Definitely many Indians are wary about the fact that both Biden and Harris have questioned the legitimacy of India passing Article 370 and Citizenship (Amendment) Bill protests. Both do not have affinity towards India unlike President Trump. Indians are right in saying that Biden is not tougher on China as well,” Shivangi said.

He said former US President Barack Obama had great influence in Biden's selection for vice president candidate.

"(Former) President (Barack) Obama is closely associated with Kamala Harris as she fits his criteria," Shivangi said, referring to Obama's father being of African descent and mother a white American.

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