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Intolerance Debate 2015: Who is under the radar?

Sundar Pichai, the Indian-American CEO of Google, before his visit to India wrote an essay titled ‘Let’s not let fear defeat our values’. Though he was referring to Donald Trump’s comments on Muslim, he made his stand for tolerance clear, “And it’s not just about opportunity. The open-mindedness, tolerance, and acceptance of new Americans is one of the country’s greatest strengths and most defining characteristics. And that is no coincidence — America, after all, was and is a country of immigrants. That is why it’s so disheartening to see the intolerant discourse playing out in the news these days — statements that our country would be a better place without the voices, ideas and the contributions of certain groups of people, based solely on where they come from, or their religion.”

Yesha Kotak

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David Headley will testify in 26/11 Mumbai attacks case, says his attorney

Under the guilty plea which he entered in March 2010, Headley agreed that when directed by the US Attorney’s Office he will fully and truthfully testify in any foreign judicial proceedings held in the US by way of deposition, video-conferencing or letters rogatory.

David Headley, the Pakistani- American LeT terrorist serving a 35 year jail term in the US, would testify before a Mumbai court through video conference in the 26/11 case, his attorney said on Friday.”I have seen the reports (about TADA court asking that he be produced via video-conference on December 10). Mr Headley will comply with the terms of his plea agreement, which is a public document,” John T Theis told PTI.Under the guilty plea which he entered in March 2010, Headley agreed that when directed by the US Attorney’s Office he will fully and truthfully testify in any foreign judicial proceedings held in the US by way of deposition, video-conferencing or letters rogatory.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Headley is currently serving 35 years in an American prison after being convicted of being involved in the planning and execution of the Mumbai terrorist attacks on November 26, 2008 in which 166 people, including six Americans, were killed.As per the guilty plea, now it is up to the US Department of Justice to issue such a direction to Headley to testify before the court in Mumbai.Under the guilty plea, Headley agreed that, when directed by the United States Attorney s Office, he will fully and truthfully participate in any debriefings for the purpose of gathering intelligence or national security information.Headley further agreed that, “when directed by the United States Attorney’s Office, he will fully and truthfully testify in any foreign judicial proceedings held in the United States by way of deposition, videoconferencing or letters rogatory.” Headley also agreed to the postponement of his sentencing until after the conclusion of his cooperation.Headley reportedly visited India five times between 2006 and 2008, drew maps, took video footage and scouted several targets for the attacks including the Taj Hotel, Oberoi Hotel and Nariman House.His reconnaissance provided vital information for the 10 LeT terrorists and their handlers.A court in Mumbai on Novemebr 19 had made Headley an accused in the 26/11 terror attack case and directed that he be produced before it via video-conferencing on December 10.

Bengaluru produces 40 tonnes of plastic waste every day, says report

Plastic is not biodegradable and thus affects the health of humans as well as mammals when it gets into water bodies.

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Bengaluru is now generating about 40 tonnes of plastic waste a day, says a report released by the NGO To Make A Difference (TMAD). This is one of the reasons why the drains in the city get clogged when it rains, the Deccan Herald reports.Since the IT city has open stormwater drains, most of the plastic waste like bottles, milk packets, etc, end up clogging them. The TMAD report says, “The average human in India uses three kg of plastic per person per year. That’s far lower than the Europeans who consume 60 kg per year, and the Americans who consume 80 kg. Because we are so populous, the amount of plastic consumed is mind boggling and our disposal habits make it a health hazard.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Plastic is not biodegradable and thus affects the health of humans as well as mammals when it gets into water bodies. The NGO’s report also adds that plastic bags in landfills will take hundreds of years to break down and when they do they contaminate the soil and water.Though many people suggest paper bags, these also end up using a lot of trees, says the report. The best solution is reusable bags made of materials that don’t harm the earth and the environment.

SAP Center’s security for PM Modi’s address tighter than airport

Enough magnetometers have been installed at the Center to facilitate faster screening process, he said, adding that because of the heightened security threat, there needs to be tighter screening process.

As thousands of Indian-Americans are scheduled to arrive at the SAP Center in San Jose on Sunday to attend Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address, they will have to go through a security screening which organisers claimed is tighter than that of an airport.”It (security screening) is tighter than that of airport security. In airport security, magneto meters are a little bit low. In that case you can pass 1,000 people per hour. Here only 500 people would be able to pass through the magnetometer per hour,” Convener of Indo-American Community of West Coast Khande Rao Kand said yesterday.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Enough magnetometers have been installed at the Center to facilitate faster screening process, he said, adding that because of the heightened security threat, there needs to be tighter screening process.”The excitement is growing, volunteers are swelling. People who were not even associated before they are coming forward,” Rao said.Over 1200 volunteers are engaged in making preparations for the event for which a record 18,500 tickets have been distributed, he said.Just like the Madison Square Garden, the center stage would be a rotating one from where Modi will be speaking.”It is going to be a life time memorable event for the Indian-Americans of the area,” Rao said.Before Modi’s address, a colorful cultural evening has been planned with performances from local Indian-Americans.Bollywood playback singer Kailash Kher is also scheduled to perform.

Indo-US meet: After addressing G-4 summit, PM Modi leaves for Silicon Valley

During his two-day stay in Silicon Valley, he would begin and conclude his engagements with the Indian-American community, the last one being an address to a crowd of over 18,500 Indian-Americans at the SAP Centre in San Jose.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures before his departure for San Jose, in New York on Saturday.

After hosting a crucial G-4 summit on UN Security Council reforms, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday left for San Jose to begin another crucial part of his US visit with a packed agenda of meetings with Silicon Valley honchos Tim Cook, Mark Zuckerberg and others. Modi left New York immediately after he hosted the leaders of Brazil, Japan and Germany for the G-4 summit on the long pending UNSC reform process.During his two-day stay in Silicon Valley, he would begin and conclude his engagements with the Indian-American community, the last one being an address to a crowd of over 18,500 Indian-Americans at the SAP Centre in San Jose.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sandwiched between the two community events would be Modi’s visits to the campuses of Tesla, Facebook and Google where he would hold meetings with the who’s who of Silicon Valley ranging from Apple chief Cook to Satya Nadella of Microsoft, Sundar Pichai of Google, Shantanu Narayen of Adobe, and Facebook’s Zuckerberg.After reaching San Jose later in the afternoon, Modi will visit Tesla Motors, followed by meetings with Apple CEO Cook, Microsoft CEO Nadella and Google CEO Pichai. Modi would also be meeting members of the Sikh and Gujarati communities.On the morning of September 27, Modi will visit the headquarters of social network giant Facebook, where he will hold a town-hall meeting with CEO Zuckerberg. He will then head to Google, part of his strong push to drive technological innovation in India.Modi will also have bilateral meetings with US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, California Governor Edmund Brown. He will also meet Salman Khan, the founder and CEO of Khan Academy, a free online education platform that produces thousands of video lessons on diverse subjects for students. He will also attend a roundtable on renewable energy and an India-US start-up meet.The first-ever Indian Prime Minister to visit Silicon Valley after it became the hub of global innovation and entrepreneurship, Modi’s first engagement after the community dinner tonight would be to drive down to the Tesla campus.The Prime Minister decided to visit Silicon Valley to experience and learn firsthand the success story of iconic companies and leaders here with the sole objective of building a similar ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship in India, said Indian Ambassador to the US Arun K Singh.

Patel groups based in USA appeal to brethren to desist from carrying anti-Modi protest

The Government, which is apparently concerned with the agitation against the Prime Minister on a foreign soil, cited the two appeals made from two diffrent batches of the Patel community in USA against the protest to drive home the the message that all Patels are not favouring this protest.

AJA plans protests outside the SAP Center in San Jose on September 27, where Narendra Modi is scheduled to address to some 18,500 Indian-Americans.

Representatives of two Patel groups based in USA on Thursday appealed to members of the community not to demonstrate during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit there over the issue of ongoing agitation for reservation in Gujarat, saying internal issues are never raised abroad.An official in Parliamentary Affairs Ministry claimed that the Ministry received the two appeal letters in this regard on Thursday. This has come on a day when a group of activists, organisations and some members of the Patel community launched a campaign in the US against Modi in New York. The campaign in various shapes and forms primarily includes multiple levels of protests in both New York and San Jose where the Prime Minister would be travelling.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Government, which is apparently concerned with the agitation against the Prime Minister on a foreign soil, cited the two appeals made from two diffrent batches of the Patel community in USA against the protest to drive home the the message that all Patels are not favouring this protest.While Chandrakant Patel and Manish Patel issued an appeal on behalf of 16 members of the Patel community based in New Jersey and New York, three others from a separate group — Chandrakant Patel, Vishnubhai Patel and Mafathbhai Patel also issued an identical appeal.”On the basis of the media reports, we are concerned about the fact that some members of our Patel Community have announced that they will demonstrate in United States of America in support of the agitation for reservation of Patel Community in Gujarat during Prime Minister Modi’s visit. The issue of reservation is an internal issue within the country. It has nothing to do with the Prime Minister’s visit to the USA. India speaks in one voice before the world. It has been a great tradition that such issues are never raised beyond the boundaries of our country,” they said.Another group also said that taking up such issues during the official foreign visit of the Prime Minister would neither help the community nor the country.”Known for innovation and entrepreneurship, Patel community has made a name for itself being in the forefront of development in Gujarat, in India and in different parts of the world. Such a community should not do anything that hurts the image of our country outside. In view of this, we fervently appeal to our expatriate Patel brethren to desist from doing anything that will not help the cause of the community,” they said.The appeal letters have been cited by the government here, as the Alliance for Justice and Accountability (AJA), which claims itself to be a coalition of progressive groups in the US, launched “Modifail” campaign putting up huge billboard on freeways in Milpitas saying “we stand against Modi’s regressive agenda.”AJA plans protests outside the SAP Center in San Jose on September 27, where Modi is scheduled to address to some 18,500 Indian-Americans.New York-based Sikh for Justice has said it will hold similar protests before the United Nations here and also in front of the SAP Center in San Jose on September 27.

33 US lawmakers write to PM Modi expressing hope of trip deepening bilateral relations

On the eve of Modi’s arrival in New York, where during over the next three days he would interact with the leaders of the top American companies from financial and media sector, as many as 33 eminent Congressman wrote a joint letter to the Prime Minister welcoming him to the land of opportunities.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s trip to the Silicon Valley would bring in new dimension to the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, a bipartisan group of American lawmakers has said while hoping that his second US visit will help attract Indian investments.On the eve of Modi’s arrival in New York, where during over the next three days he would interact with the leaders of the top American companies from financial and media sector, as many as 33 eminent Congressman wrote a joint letter to the Prime Minister welcoming him to the land of opportunities.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”It was clear that your last trip to the United States provided the momentum needed to refocus the US-India relationship. We are hopeful that your second visit will lead to the continuation and deepening of the Indian investment into the US economy, as well as the use of US technological knowledge to drive more development in India,” the 33 Congressmen, from both the Republican and Democratic parties, said. Looking forward to Modi’s upcoming trip to California, which marks the first time an Indian head of government has visited the Golden State in 33 years, the Congressmen said this trip to Silicon Valley will help showcase the exciting contributions Indians and Indian-Americans make to the US technology industry.The letter among others was signed by Congressmen Ami Bera and George Holding, Co-Chairs of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans — Ed Royce, Chairman of powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee and Tulsi Gabbard. “We applaud your and President Obama’s commitment to the strategic partnership which has already led to several accomplishments including the Delhi Declaration of Friendship, the adoption of a Joint Strategic Vision for Asia and Pacific and Indian Ocean region, and the announcement of renewal of the ten-year Defence Cooperation Agreement,” the lawmakers said.”Close collaboration between our governments has led to progress in several areas including counter-terrorism, non-proliferation, cyber-security, science and technology, knowledge economy, energy, space, and health to name just a few,” they said. “We are excited to see how it progresses in the near future for both countries. Additionally, your decision to open up domestic markets to foreign direct investment has helped grow US investment into India to US $28 billion. And at the same time, trade between our countries has reached about US $120 billion,” the lawmakers said in their letter.

Paes, Hingis win third mixed major with U.S. Open triumph | Reuters

NEW YORK Martina Hingis and Leander Paes once again proved to be a potent partnership as the Swiss-Indo duo captured their third mixed doubles title of the year with victory at the U.S. Open on Friday.

The Australian Open and Wimbledon champions came back from 4-1 down in the championship tiebreak to storm to victory with a 6-4 3-6 10-7 win over Americans Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Sam Querrey.

Hingis and Paes became the first duo to capture three major mixed titles in the same year since Margaret Court and Marty Riessen achieved the feat in 1969.

The triumph earned 42-year-old Paes a ninth mixed doubles trophy and 17th grand slam title while Hingis took her overall grand slam tally to 19 (five singles, 10 women’s doubles and four mixed).

“I just love to play tennis and I am fortunate to have Leander as my partner,” Hingis told reporters.

Paes added: “Martina is a legend on and off the court. She’s my best friend. She’s just fantastic.”

Hingis could add to her haul over the weekend when she teams up with another Indian, Sania Mirza, in the women’s doubles final.

(Reporting by Pritha Sarkar; Editing by Frank Pingue)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

dna must read: From Bihar polls to Andy Murray’s shocking exit

1) Enforcement Directorate officials surprised at Interpol move on Lalit ModiEnforcement Directorate (ED) sources expressed surprise at the Interpol’s move to seek more details on the investigations into the alleged money-laundering by former Indian Premier League (IPL) chairman Lalit Modi, following India’s request for a red corner notice (RCN) against him. Read More<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2) Bihar polls: Election Commission may announce dates today, polls likely to be held in five phasesBihar poll dates are likely to be announced by the Election Commission of India. The availability of central forces will decide the phases for polling.The Bharatiya Janata Party and an alliance of the Janata Dal-United and the Rashtriya Janata Dal that has the backing of the Congress will be the main contenders in the polls. Read 3) India hits back at Pak Army chief Raheel Sharif, says isssue with Pakistan is how to get back PoKThe only issue with Pakistan is to get back parts of Jammu and Kashmir under its illegal occupation, Minister of State in PMO Jitendra Singh said here today, hitting back at Pakistan Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif’s comments that Kashmir is an “unfinished agenda”.Singh emphasised that Jammu and Kashmir was and will remain the integral part of India. Read More4) US Open: Third seed Andy Murray suffers shock exitThird-seeded Andy Murray was knocked out of the US Open by big-serving South African Kevin Anderson, who reached his first grand slam quarter-final with a 7-6(5) 6-3 6-7(2) 7-6(0) win on Monday. Murray had battled his way back from two sets down in the second round against France’s Adrian Mannarino, but could not work another miracle against the 14th-ranked, 29-year-old Anderson, who swept the final tiebreak 7-0. Read More5) Hundreds of Americans sign petition offering to house Syrian refugeesHundreds of Americans offered on Monday to take Syrian refugees into their homes, saying in an online petition that the United States needed to let in more migrants fleeing civil war. Almost 1,300 people had signed the petition on the progressive website calling on the United States to lift its limit on Syrian refugees as Europe struggled to cope with record numbers of asylum seekers. ead More

It’s about time Rajyavardhan Rathore outgrows his sophomoric bravado

By Bikram Vohra

Why do politicians walk into hot water?

Can’t they see the steam rising from the pot?

The need to be dramatic and beat the drum is so overwhelming that they cannot help themselves. Give them a microphone and out goes common sense. Union Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore can tweet all he likes to distance himself from the schoolboy bravado he displayed on AajTak’s show Seedhi Baat. He shot his mouth off over catching India’s enemies, including the option of a covert operations on what would ostensibly be foreign soil.

Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore. PTI

Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore. PTI

Why not just take an ad out in the papers so that all the enemies of the state can be alerted that the hunt for them is on?

The intelligence agencies must cringe when politicians muck around without any knowledge of what they are talking about. Remember the Myanmar operation when India conducted a retributive operation against Naga insurgents? This Minister made similar tom-tomming comments then. They even released a picture of the commandos as if it was a cricket match victory. You never show the picture of those who took part. That is plain common sense because that makes them a target for revenge.

You never let the enemy know that you have something in the pipeline. You might get a few brownie points and some publicity but it will come back and bite you in the butt.

Think about it.

Did Osama Bin Laden know the Americans were closing in? Did President Barack Obama’s team give timely cautions and offer ‘wait and see’ sophomoric heroics? All the minister had to say was India’s sworn enemies should not sleep well at night for we will pursue them relentlessly, now make of that what you will.

If there any sympathetic takers for that Indian inclination to be impressed by the ‘arre yaar, kya dat ke bola’ fashion, don’t be.

Obviously, something was said that was so out of line that Rathore received a dressing down from High Command on Monday morning, and is now tweeting away for all his worth.

Here’s a sample:

To keep it fair, all AajTak has to do is play the tape. It’s his tweet versus AajTak’s tape.

So much for ‘seedhi’ baat.

The problem is that TV is a heady wine and a poison. Put folks in front of a camera and off they go with no concept of what they should say, finally covering their faces with egg. Who on earth gives away top secret hints to the enemy? Now, thanks to this needless waffle, every one of these wanted guys knows its time to hunker down and disappear. Even talking about it obliquely when you are in government is to give them a helpful warning.
By the way, Mr Minister, what’s your portfolio?

Fed says rate hike next month hinges on market volatility | Reuters

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. The Federal Reserve on Friday left the door open to a September interest rate hike even while several U.S. central bank officials acknowledged that turmoil in financial markets, if prolonged, could delay the first policy tightening in nearly a decade.

Some top policymakers, including Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer, said recent volatility in global markets could quickly ease and possibly pave the way for the U.S. rate hike, for which investors, governments and central banks around the world are bracing.

With a key policy meeting set for Sept. 16-17, at least five Fed officials spoke publicly in what amounted to a jockeying for position on whether increasing the Fed’s benchmark overnight lending rate was too risky amid an economic slowdown in China, a rising U.S. dollar .DXY and falling commodity prices XAU= CMCU3.

“It’s early to tell,” Fischer told CNBC on the sidelines of the annual central banking conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. “We’re still watching how it unfolds.” He, along with other Fed officials, acknowledged that the global equities sell-off that began last week would influence the timing of a rate hike, which until only a couple of weeks ago seemed increasingly likely to occur in September.

Concerns about China’s economy have whipsawed markets, including Wall Street, even while U.S. economic data has been robust. U.S. stock indexes ended largely unchanged, capping a week that included both the market’s worst day in four years and biggest two-day gain since the 2007-2009 financial crisis. [.N]

“I think they could settle fairly quickly,” said Fischer, a close ally of Fed Chair Janet Yellen.

St. Louis Fed President James Bullard told Reuters he still favoured hiking rates next month, though he added that his colleagues would be hesitant to do so if global markets continued to be volatile in mid-September.

The Fed’s policy committee “does not like to move right in the middle of a global financial storm,” Bullard, a Fed hawk, said in an interview. “So one of the advantages we have is that this storm is occurring now and, at least as of now, we think it will be settled down” by the September meeting.

The comments suggest the next two and a half weeks will be critical for the Fed as well as for global markets. A U.S. rate hike is expected to hit emerging market equities and currencies particularly hard, adding to the sell-offs already seen.

The American economy, however, continues to shine despite longer-term concerns about low inflation.

The U.S. government reported this week that the economy grew at a 3.7 percent annualised pace in the second quarter, sharply higher than its previous estimate, and that consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of economic activity, rose again in July.


Investors and economists have been betting the Fed would delay a policy tightening to December or later, prolonging the monetary stimulus that has kept rates at rock-bottom levels for more than six years and has pumped trillions of dollars into the global banking system.

But after Fischer spoke, traders added to bets that a rate hike would come this year, with overnight indexed swap rates implying a 35 percent chance the Fed would move in September and a 77 percent chance of a December move.

Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart, a centrist who has become less resolute about a September rate hike as markets have tumbled, told Bloomberg TV that it was reasonable to see the odds of a move next month as roughly even.

One idea appearing to gain ground on Friday hinged on the Fed raising rates once or twice and then holding off until inflation started to rise to its 2 percent target. A strong dollar and lower oil prices CLc1 LCOc1 have kept a lid on prices despite an unemployment rate that is close to normal at 5.3 percent.

Bullard told Reuters the Fed could hike rates once then “hang out” at that level if inflation remains too low.

Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester, another so-called hawk who, like Bullard, sometimes runs against the grain at the central bank, said the economy still could handle a modest rate hike, though she did not commit to backing a move next month.

“I want to take the time I have between now and the September meeting to evaluate all the economic information that’s come in, including recent volatility in markets and the reasons behind that,” she was quoted as saying by the Wall Street Journal.

The Fed decision has drawn unusually intense interest from both foreign central bankers, who will have to respond, and from Americans on both the right and left.

The conservative American Principles Project held speeches at a nearby hotel urging a prompt rate hike. Meanwhile, a floor below the main Federal Reserve conference space, the Centre for Popular Democracy hosted workers and economists calling on the Fed to keep rates low to get more Americans back to work.

The Fed needs to re-think “full employment in a way that recognise the high joblessness of black and Latino communities,” Sarita Turner of PolicyLink told about 60 advocates, noting that U.S. joblessness among blacks is twice that of whites.

Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota, a dove who wants to stand pat on rates until the second half of 2016, said in an interview China’s slowdown heightens the risk of a U.S. shock. “There’s just no reason to go now,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Jason Lange and Krista Hughes in Washington; Editing by Paul Simao and James Dalgleish)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

US praises India for ‘considerable momentum’ towards renewable energy

Washington: The US has praised India for its “considerable momentum” towards clean energy, saying that over 10 percent of the country’s electricity will come from renewable energy by 2022.

US praised India for its progress in renewable energy. Agencies

US praised India for its progress in renewable energy. Agencies

“India has put forward a target of 175 gigawatts of renewables by 2022, which would mean well-over 10 per cent of their electricity would come from renewable energy by that year,” Rick Duke, Deputy Director White House Office of Energy and Climate Change said.

“So we see considerable momentum coming out of that joint statement,” Duke said in response to a question on US-China joint announcement at a discussion on US Climate Commitments convened by World Resources Institute.

Noting that President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping had jointly announced a historic set of targets to cut emissions last year, Duke said the move has had a “galvanising effect” on the overall momentum in the context of the Paris negotiations.

“Since then, we’ve seen countries that represent over 60 percent of global energy CO2 emissions come forward with post-2020 emissions reduction targets. So lots of momentum, lots of movement to deploy low-carbon technologies and see their costs come down accordingly,” he said.

Duke said Obama had asked every agency to consider what they can do and to keep looking for options to drive down emissions.

Obama has set an ambitious goal to cut emissions 17 percent by 2020, and then started a whole series of actions in the first term to deliver those results, he said.

At the beginning of the second term he came forward with a strong statement on climate change in his inaugural address, followed shortly thereafter by the historic Climate Action Plan in June of 2013, he added.

“What we’re seeing is that poll after poll shows that Americans support climate action. They support strong action on climate,” Duke said.

“Measures like historic fuel economy standards delivered during the first term, appliance efficiency standards, doubling renewable electricity during the first term, and a whole suite of other measures that are in motion under the Climate Action Plan are cutting energy waste, they’re saving consumers’ money, and they’re delivering both carbon pollution reduction and public health benefits,” he added.


Clintons earned at least $30 mln since beginning of 2014 | Reuters

WASHINGTON Hillary and Bill Clinton have earned at least $30 million since January 2014, including more than $25 million for delivering about 100 speeches, according to a government filing.

Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, has earned more than $5 million in royalties for her book, “Hard Choices,” which was published in June, according to the form.

The Clintons’ income puts them at the upper end of the top 0.1 percent of earners in the U.S. population, according to government data.

Economic inequality has emerged as an early theme with candidates of both parties vying for the White House in November 2016.

The “one percent” has become a talking point in policy discussions about the divide between rich and poor, cited by politicians to support everything from increased Wall Street oversight to raising wages to overhauling the tax code.

Clinton announced her candidacy last month by saying “everyday Americans need a champion and I want to be that champion.”

In early campaign stops, Clinton has said how she believes the “deck is stacked” against middle class Americans and that it is time to “reshuffle the cards.”

The Clintons themselves have faced criticism for their privileged status. Last year, Hillary Clinton said they were “dead broke” when they left the White House in 2001, even though Bill Clinton made millions of dollars giving speeches after his presidency.

Clinton, a former top diplomat, U.S. senator and first lady, has earned as much as $250,000 per speech since leaving the State Department in 2013.

Paid appearances at financial institutions such as Goldman Sachs and Bank of America in particular have drawn fire from the liberal wing of the Democratic party, which fears her campaign will be beholden to moneyed interests.

Clinton, like all presidential candidates who entered the race before April 15, was required to file an account of her personal finances by May 15.

The Clinton campaign made the filing available to media outlets for review.

The Federal Election Commission forms ask candidates to report the values of assets and liabilities in broad ranges, making it impossible to arrive at a candidate’s exact net worth.

The minimum value of the Clinton’s financial assets is $11.3 million, but their net wealth is likely far more, since the value of some assets, including personal residences, are not required to be reported and anything above $5 million is reported in a single category.

(Reporting by Eric Beech, Amanda Becker and Jonathan Allen; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

US states redefine religious freedom: Time to read Obama’s Delhi speech back to him

Remember Barack Obama’s speech on religious freedom at Delhi’s Siri Fort in January? That speech was widely seen by BJP-baiters as a lecture to the current government that is easily tarred with the brush of anti-minorityism based on the aggressive statements of some Sangh parivar loudmouths.

“Nowhere is it going to be more necessary to uphold (religious faith) than in India. India will succeed so long as it is not splintered on religious lines,” pontificated Obama, pointing out that article 25 of our constitution guarantees “freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion.” President Obama balanced that pointed statement by also talking about America in the same vein. He said: “In both our countries, in all countries, upholding this fundamental freedom is the responsibility of government…”.

Barack Obama. AFPBarack Obama. AFP

Barack Obama. AFP

It is time to read that lecture back to President Obama. Last month, the US state of Indiana legislated a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) that seems to mean something quite different. The premise of the law is that religious people’s rights are violated if they cannot live up to their beliefs when confronted with uniform civil laws and code.

In other words, if the Bible says homosexuality is a sin but civil laws not only decriminalise gay sex, but also increasingly allow gay marriages, it is the true believer who needs his freedoms protection. The new trend in law-making in conservative states is to ensure that that a religious person cannot be prosecuted for discriminating against gays in the pursuit of his beliefs. So a food outlet owner who believes in the Biblical prohibition on homosexuality cannot be prosecuted for not serving gay or lesbian customers, or refusing to bake a cake for a wedding involving same-sex couples.

Quite clearly, in parts of Obama’s America, the meaning of religious freedom sometimes means the freedom to discriminate against people with different sexual orientations. Effectively, the right to religious freedom can mean the right to be bigoted. Recent surveys show that about a third of Americans do not like recent legislation and changing social attitudes that make gay sex and marriages not only legal, but also worth celebrating.

Interestingly, the first nation-wide RFRA law was legislated during the Bill Clinton era, and since them around 20 states have created their own religious freedom laws. While some of them are benign, the laws legislated by conservative states like Indiana and Arkansas specifically make religious bigots immune to prosecution for discriminatory treatment based on their beliefs.

Writing in Time magazine, Rod Drehner, a senior editor at the American Conservative, says the liberal argument against discrimination does not wash when it comes to religious beliefs. Religion-based discrimination, he says, is not the same as race-based bias. “Abrahamic religion does not see it that way. Sexual expression has moral meaning that race does not. You don’t have to agree with Orthodox Jews, Muslims and traditional Christians, but this goes down to the foundational beliefs of our religions.”

In other words, discrimination, when it is part of the foundational beliefs of Abrahamic religions, has to be immune from the normal laws against bias and bigotry.

The Indian parallel to this exists in the law passed to deny Shah Bano maintenance after divorce – as the Supreme Court decreed – and the refusal to go in for a uniform civil code. The interesting difference is that in India so-called “liberals” and “secular” parties are unenthusiastic about a uniform civil code as it supposedly upsets their Muslim vote banks. Conservative forces like the Sangh support a uniform civil code. In the US, the line-up of combatants in the religious law versus civil law debate is the exact opposite: conservatives want the freedom to discriminate, and the liberals oppose it.

Why is there such a fuss at this point, when the US RFRA has been on the statute book since 1993? Answer: many states have now started passing more regressive laws than the federal one, with Indiana being a recent case.

The Clinton era RFRA says that even “a religiously neutral law” can affect religious freedom and includes this clause: “Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.”

But Indiana goes much farther. As Garrett Epps writes in The Atlantic, “the Indiana statute has two features the federal RFRA – and most state RFRAs – do not. First, the Indiana law explicitly allows any for-profit business to assert a right to “the free exercise of religion.” This provides companies and businesses protection from anti-discrimination laws, and not just churches and evangelical organizations who are anyway expected to follow the Bible.

Secondly, says Epps, the Indiana law contains a clause which says a “person whose exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened, by a violation of this chapter may assert the violation or impending violation as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding, regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding.” In other words, even the state will not be able to prosecute violators for driving a coach-and-four over anti-discrimination laws. (Read the whole Atlantic article here).

Quite clearly, religious freedom in Uncle Sam’s conservative backyard is less about religious freedom, and more about protecting the biased and bigoted.

Time for us to read the Obama speech back to him.

Gravely concerned about release of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi: US

Washington: Expressing grave concern over Mumbai attack mastermind Zakir-ur-Rehman Lakhvi’s release, the US on Friday said it has repeatedly asked Pakistan to follow through on its commitment to ensure justice for the 26/11 victims.

US expressed concern on the release of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi. PTI

US expressed concern on the release of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi. PTI

“We are gravely concerned about the release on bail of alleged Mumbai attack mastermind Zakir-ur-Rehman Lakhvi,” State Department Acting Spokesperson Jeff Rathke told reporters at his daily news conference.

“We have communicated that concern to senior Pakistani officials over the course of many months, and as recently as yesterday,” he said, when asked about the release of Lakhvi by Pakistan.

“Terrorist attacks are an assault on the collective safety and security of all countries. Pakistan has pledged its cooperation in bringing the perpetrators, financiers, and sponsors of the Mumbai terrorist attacks to justice, and we urge Pakistan to follow through on that commitment to ensure justice for the 166 innocent people, including six Americans, who lost their lives,” he said.

Responding to questions, Rathke refused to comment on the “consequences or repercussions” for Pakistan for not following through its commitment as reflected in the release of Lakhvi.

“We are gravely concerned about this development,” he said.

“I’m not going to put a time line on it (bringing perpetrators to justice). But certainly bringing the perpetrators of the Mumbai terrorist attacks to justice is a key priority, and we stand by that. So, we’ll continue working in that direction, but I don’t have any further specific steps to outline right now,” Rathke said.

Fifty five-year-old Lakhvi, who guided 10 LeT gunmen from a control room in Pakistan during 26/11, walked free on Friday after being under detention for six years, a day after a Pakistani court ordered his release.

Lakhvi, a close relative of LeT founder and JuD chief Hafiz Saeed, was arrested in December 2008 and was indicted along with the six others on November 25, 2009, in connection with the 26/11 attack that claimed 166 lives. The trial has been underway since 2009.


ISIS admirer Anees Ansari planned Peshwar like attack on Mumbai school

Reports suggest that Anees Ansari, who was held by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad in October this year, was planning an attack in Mumbai similar to the one on the Peshawar school.

Mumbai Mirror reports, “the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist Squad have submitted before court transcripts of an online chat allegedly between Ansari and a certain Omar Elhaji, which draws a scary scenario very close to the Peshawar school attack that left 145 people dead.”

Representational image. AFP

Ansari (24), who worked at a multi-national software company and admired the middle-east terror group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, was apprehended from his office in suburban Andheri for allegedly conspiring to blow up US establishments in Mumbai including a school.

According to the Mumbai Mirror report, “In the transcripts of his Facebook chats with Elhaji, Ansari says that an attack on the school will teach America and its allies a fitting lesson and that the children do not deserve any mercy.”

Ansari was booked under section 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) read with 302 (murder) of Indian Penal Code, and relevant sections of Information Technology Act.

He sympathised with Islamic State fighters and described, in his online conversations, the Americans as tormentors. ATS also seized his computers, a mobile phone, and has obtained `mirror images’ to extract the data.

“Our team that keeps a close watch on online posts sometime ago got the wind of his shady activities which suggested that he had been chatting with two persons based in UK and Australia who have been indoctrinated to believe in the extremist ideologies,” an ATS official had said in October.

The online discussions about a plan to target an American school in the city alerted the ATS, which led to his arrest.

The ATS officer had claimed that it had gathered enough evidence to suggest that Ansari had been chatting — through a Facebook account in a fake name — about punishing Americans and defending the Islamic state, another name for the Islamic State, which according to him was the victim in the current turbulence in Syria and Iraq.

With agency inputs