Yemen's Houthis agree in principle to U.N. role at Sanaa airport

Yemen’s Houthis agree in principle to U.N. role at Sanaa airport


General view of Sanaa International airport, Sanaa, Yemen December 13, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed al-Sayaghi

RIMBO, Sweden (Reuters) – Yemen’s Houthis have agreed in principle on a United Nation’s role in Sanaa airport, a spokesman for the armed movement said in Sweden on Thursday.

The Houthis are happy with what was achieved in the consultations, said the spokesman, speaking after U.N. sponsored peace talks with Yemen’s internationally recognized government.

A U.N. role would include carrying out safety and inspection checks at the airport.

Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi, writing by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky



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Rajasthan assembly: Money and muscle power reign supreme in newly elected House

Rajasthan assembly: Money and muscle power reign supreme in newly elected House


Of the 199 newly elected MLAs, 158 (79 per cent) are crorepatis as compared to 145 (73 per cent) after the 2013 elections.

The average asset per MLA in the Rajasthan 2018 assembly elections is Rs. 7.39 crore. In 2013, it was Rs 5.81 crore.

The average asset per MLA in the Rajasthan 2018 assembly elections is Rs. 7.39 crore. In 2013, it was Rs 5.81 crore. (Image: Twitter)

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Of the 199 MLAs analysed, 46 have declared criminal cases against them
  • 158 are crorepatis; Congress has 82, BJP 58, Independents 11 and BSP 5
  • Most of the MLAs are middle-aged: 159 are in the 41-70 years age bracket

The newly elected Rajasthan assembly has more members with pending criminal cases and crorepatis as compared to the previous one. Rajasthan Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) have analysed affidavits of 199 newly elected MLAs of 2018 out of 200 seats in the Rajasthan Assembly.

Polling to Ramgarh constituency has been deferred following the death last month of Laxman Singh, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate.

Criminal background

Of the 199 MLAs analysed, 46 (23 per cent) MLAs have declared criminal cases against them. In 2013, the number of MLAs with criminal cases was 36 (18 per cent). When it comes to serious criminal cases such as murder, attempt to murder or kidnapping the number this year is 28 (14 per cent) compared to 19 (10 per cent) in 2013.

Parsadi Lal, a Congress MLA from Lalsot has a murder charge (Section 302 of IPC) registered against him; four MLAs, all from Congress, have cases related to attempt to murder (Section 307). Out of Congress’s 100 MLAs, 25 (25 per cent) have criminal cases against them; the number for BJP is 12 (16 per cent) and two (33 per cent) for BSP. As for serious criminal cases, Congress has 16 MLAs (16 per cent), BJP seven (10 per cent) and BSP two (33 per cent).

Financial background

Of the 199 newly elected MLAs, 158 (79 per cent) are crorepatis as compared to 145 (73 per cent) after the 2013 elections.

Partywise break up

Congress: 82 (82 per cent)

BJP: 58 (79 per cent)

Independents: 11 (85 per cent)

BSP: 5 (83 per cent)

The average asset per MLA in the Rajasthan 2018 assembly elections is Rs. 7.39 crore. In 2013, it was Rs 5.81 crore.

Partywise average asset worth

Congress: Rs 9.33 crore

BSP: Rs 8.70 crore

Independents: Rs 7.36 crore

BJP: Rs 5.38 crore

Other background details

When it comes to education, 129 MLAs (65 per cent) are graduates or above; 59 (30 per cent) studied between Classes 5 and 12; and seven MLAs have declared themselves just bout literate.

Most of the MLAs are middle-aged: 159 (80 per cent) are in the 41-70 years age bracket; 24 (12 per cent) are between 31 and 40 years; three (2 per cent) are between 25 and 30; 12 (24 per cent) MLAs are in the 71-80 bracket; and one MLA is 80-plus years old.

As for women’s representation, there are 23 women among the 199 elected MLAs as compared to 28 in 2013.

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U.S. weekly jobless claims near 49-year low; import prices fall

U.S. weekly jobless claims near 49-year low; import prices fall


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The number of Americans filing applications for jobless benefits tumbled to near 49-year lows last week, which could ease concerns about a slowdown in the labor market and economy.

A container ship is shown at port in Long Beach, California, U.S. July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Other data on Thursday showed import prices dropping by the most in more than three years in November as the cost of petroleum products tumbled and a strong dollar weighed on prices of other goods, pointing to subdued imported inflation.

Tightening labor market conditions bolster expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates at its Dec. 18-19 policy meeting. With inflation likely to remain tame through the first half of 2019, economists see fewer rate hikes next year.

The Fed has increased borrowing costs three times this year.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 27,000 to a seasonally adjusted 206,000 for the week ended Dec. 8, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Last week’s decline in claims was the largest since April 2015. Claims hit 202,000 in mid-September, which was the lowest level since December 1969.

Data for the prior week was revised to show 2,000 more applications received than previously reported.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims falling to 225,000 in the latest week. Claims shot up to an eight-month high of 235,000 during the week ended Nov. 24.

The Labor Department said only claims for Virginia were estimated last week.

The four-week moving average of initial claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, fell 3,750 to 224,750 last week.

While difficulties adjusting the data around holidays likely boosted applications in prior weeks, there were worries the labor market was losing momentum given financial market volatility, the fading stimulus from a $1.5 trillion tax cut package and the Trump administration’s protectionist trade policy.

Last week’s sharp drop in claims also suggests a slowdown in job growth in November was likely the result of worker shortages. Nonfarm payrolls increased by 155,000 jobs after surging by 237,000 in October.

With the unemployment rate near a 49-year low of 3.7 percent, Fed officials view the labor market as being at or beyond full employment.

U.S. Treasury yields briefly edged up after the data. U.S. stock index futures were trading higher while the dollar .DXY was slightly stronger against a basket of currencies.

SUBDUED IMPORTED INFLATION

In a second report on Thursday, the Labor Department said import prices dropped 1.6 percent last month, the biggest decline since August 2015, after an unrevised 0.5 percent increase in October.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast import prices decreasing 0.9 percent in November.

In the 12 months through November, import prices rose 0.7 percent. That was the smallest annual increase since November 2016 and followed a 3.3 percent rise in October.

The report came on the heels of data showing weak overall producer and consumer inflation readings in November. It supports economists’ expectations that inflation could remain moderate through the first half of 2019.

The Fed’s preferred inflation measure, the core PCE price index excluding food and energy, increased 1.8 percent on a year-on-year basis in October, the smallest gain since February, after rising 1.9 percent in the prior month.

It hit the U.S. central bank’s 2 percent target in March for the first time since April 2012. Most economists expect the Fed will raise interest rates twice next year, although traders expect no more than one rate increase.

Last month, prices for imported fuels and lubricants tumbled 11.0 percent after rising 3.2 percent in October. Prices for imported petroleum plunged 12.1 percent, the biggest drop since January 2016, after increasing 2.7 percent in October.

Oil prices have fallen by a third since the start of October amid concerns about oversupply and a slowing global economy.

Food prices declined 2.2 percent in November, reversing October’s 2.2 percent gain. Excluding fuels and food, import prices fell 0.2 percent last month after being unchanged in October. The so-called core import prices rose 0.4 percent in the 12 months through November.

FILE PHOTO: People wait in line to attend TechFair LA, a technology job fair, in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 26, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

The weak core import price readings reflect the strong dollar, which has gained about 8.0 percent this year against the currencies of the United States’ main trade partners.

The report also showed export prices fell 0.9 percent in November, the biggest drop since January 2016, after climbing 0.5 percent in October. A 1.8 percent rebound in prices of agricultural exports was partly offset by a 1.0 percent drop in prices of nonagricultural goods.

Export prices increased 1.8 percent on a year-on-year basis in November after rising 3.1 percent in October.

Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Paul Simao



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NDTV

100-Rupee Coin With Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Portrait To Be Launched Soon


Atal Bihari Vajpayee died on August 16 this year at the age of 93.

New Delhi: 

A new 100-rupee coin with the image of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee will be launched soon, an official statement said today. The coin will weigh 35 grams.

One side of the coin will have a portrait of Atal Bihari Vajpayee with his name inscribed in the Devanagari script as well as English. The years 1924 and 2018 will be inscribed at the bottom of his picture. The numbers are his birth and death years.

The other side of the coin will bear the Lion Capitol of Ashoka Pillar in the centre with “Satyameva Jayate” inscribed below in the Devanagari script. The word “Bharat” will be inscribed on its left periphery in the Devanagari script and “India” will be on the right in English. Below the Lion Capitol will be the rupee symbol and the denominational value of 100.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee died on August 16 this year at the age of 93. He was the prime minister of the country for 13 days in 1996, 13 months in 1998 and for almost six years from 1999.

In his honour, various places have been renamed after him. Four Himalayan peaks have been named after him. Chhattisgarh’s Naya Raipur has also been renamed to Atal Nagar.

The Uttarakhand government has also decided to rename Dehradun airport after the former prime minister. Lucknow’s famous ‘Hazratganj Chauraha’ will be renamed after him as ‘Atal Chowk’.



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When Kamal Nath swore Narendra Modi in as Varanasi MP

When Kamal Nath swore Narendra Modi in as Varanasi MP


Kamal Nath, a nine-time MP from Chhindwara, is the frontrunner for the post of Madhya Pradesh chief minister after the Congress’s stunning surge in the Hindi heartland.

When Kamal Nath swore Narendra Modi in as Varanasi MP

Photo (L): Twitter/Office of Kamal Nath

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Kamal Nath swore PM Modi in as an MP; he was pro-tem Speaker
  • Modi represents Varanasi in UP in the Lok Sabha
  • He won there by a margin of over 3,71,000 votes

Shri Narendra Damodardas Modi,” Kamal Nath called out from the Speakers’ chair in his deep, clear voice, and waited as India’s 15th prime minister made his way to the mic to thundering acclaim.

On that day, June 5, 2014, Kamal Nath was the pro-tem Speaker. The current Speaker of the Lok Sabha is, of course, Sumitra Mahajan of the BJP.

Till a regular Speaker is elected, a pro-tem Speaker administers oaths to a new House and conducts proceedings.

Watching as Modi took oath as the MP from Varanasi, where he won by a margin of over 3,71,000 votes, were Venkaiah Naidu (now the Vice-President of India), Union Ministers like Rajnath Singh and Maneka Gandhi, and others. (See video below.)

An India Today magazine report describes how Kamal Nath’s friends and foes alike swear by his sense of humour. Read on to learn what he told Pranab Mukherjee about Modi’s swearing in.

Modi’s BJP would go on to win several state elections in the coming years, including polls in the Hindi heartland states of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Kamal Nath’s Congress, on the other hand, saw its influence on India’s political map shrink.

But things have changed for the Congress just months before a new general election. At the time when this story was first published, Kamal Nath, 72, is the frontrunner for the post of Madhya Pradesh chief minister after his party’s stunning surge in the Hindi belt, which ousted three BJP governments. Besides Madhya Pradesh, the Congress is all set to rule in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

Before we leave you, here’s a fun fact: When Kamal Nath had to swear in Modi, he told then-President Pranab Mukherjee: “After swearing at Modi all these years, I have to swear him in now.”

WATCH | Kamal Nath swears in Narendra Modi as a Lok Sabha MP (YouTube/BJP)

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NDTV

Will A Probe Be Ordered? Verdict Tomorrow


New Delhi: 

The Supreme Court will tomorrow morning deliver its verdict on a clutch of petitions demanding a court-monitored investigation into the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France, in a deal worth Rs 59,000 crore. The court will also decide whether the government followed the right procedure in inking the deal.

The verdict will be declared at 10:30 am by a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi. The court had, in its last hearing on November 14, reserved the verdict.

The Congress has accused the government of corruption and crony capitalism, alleging that the centre scrapped a deal for 126 Rafale jets negotiated by the previous UPA government and opted for a not-so-lucrative new contract for 36 jets just to help Anil Ambani’s debt-hit defence company bag an offset partnership with Dassault, the company that makes the Rafale jets.

The offset clause means that in exchange for landing the Indian contract, Dassault has to invest half the value of the deal – about Rs 30,000 crore – in Indian firms. Reliance Defence was chosen as one of those “offset” partners and is to manufacture plane parts – though not for the 36 jets ordered by India.

Both Dassault and the centre have rubbished Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s allegation that the French aeronautics major had chosen Anil Ambani’s company in order to bag the fighter jet order.

The court has said the hugely contentious issue of the pricing of the jets will not be debated unless it decides that the matter should be in public domain. The centre had submitted pricing details of the deal in a sealed envelope to the court, and the process followed in an affidavit.

Senior Air Force officers had also attended the hearing to clear doubts of the judges on the necessity of getting Rafale fighter jets.

In the last hearing, the government had admitted in Supreme Court that there is no sovereign guarantee that Dassault will meet its obligation of delivering the 36 Rafale jets. What is there, the government’s top law officer KK Venugopal had told the court, was a “Letter of Comfort” from France – a written document that assures that an obligation will eventually be met.

In legal terms, a Letter of Comfort is weaker than a sovereign guarantee, under which the foreign government takes full responsibility that the contract will be executed. In case of any breach of contract, the two governments resolve the issue.

Reports suggest the deal had been stalled over France’s refusal to be a sovereign guarantor. In the case of government-to-government deals with the US, Washington stands guarantee to ensure the contract is executed without a hitch.

The petitions seeking a court-monitored investigation into the Rafale deal were first filed by advocates Manohar Lal Sharma and Vineet Dhanda. Later, Aam Aadmi Party lawmaker Sanjay Singh filed another one. Former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan also filed a joint petition in the top court.

Disclaimer: NDTV has been sued for 10,000 crores by Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group for its coverage of the Rafale deal.



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Court-monitored probe into Rafale deal? Supreme Court verdict tomorrow

Court-monitored probe into Rafale deal? Supreme Court verdict tomorrow


A Supreme Court bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi had reserved verdict in the case on November 14 after hearing extensive arguments.

Court-monitored probe into Rafale deal? Supreme Court verdict tomorrow

The deal came under intense political scrutiny in India and in France | Photo from Dassault’s website

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Four separate petitions had been filed before the Supreme Court
  • Petitions in front of SC have also questioned why price of aircraft has not been made public
  • Court in its judgment is likely to address issue of procedural lapses by Centre

The Supreme Court is set to pronounce its verdict on Friday on a set of PILs that had demanded a court-monitored CBI probe into the Rafale deal.

Four separate petitions had been filed before the Supreme Court raising questions about the pricing, the choice of Reliance as the offset partner, as well as the process followed in finalisation of the Rafale deal. A Supreme Court bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi had reserved verdict in the case on November 14 after hearing extensive arguments.

The four petitions have been filed by advocate ML Sharma, advocate Vineet Dhanda, former parliamentarians Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie, and advocate Prashant Bhushan and AAP MP Sanjay Singh.

The BJP government had signed an intergovernmental deal with France in 2016 for the sale of 36 Rafale MMRCA aircraft in flyaway condition.

The deal however came under intense political scrutiny in India and in France after the Opposition here questioned how Reliance Defence was signed on as the offset partner by weapons manufacturer Dassault Aviation even when the Anil Ambani-owned company had no previous experience.

The petitions in front of the Supreme Court have also questioned why the price of the aircraft has not been made public, and how the new deal was announced between PM Narendra Modi in May 2015 when an earlier deal for acquisition of 126 aircraft was still subsisting.

The petitioners also alleged that the Defence Procurement Procedure was not followed and the relevant clearances for the deal were not taken.

During arguments, the Center filed the details of the pricing and the process followed during the deal in a sealed cover before the court, and claimed that the details of the deal were being kept secret “in national interest.”

The government also argued that the choice of the offset partner was made by Dassault and the Indian government was yet to receive an official confirmation on the offset contracts entered into by the French weapons manufacturer.

The court in its judgment is likely to address the issue of procedural lapses by the Centre, and may also look into whether any probe into the deal is required. The bench had however said earlier that it is not likely to go into the issue of pricing or the technical specifications of the deal.

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U.S. weekly jobless claims drop to near 49-year low

U.S. weekly jobless claims drop to near 49-year low


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The number of Americans filing applications for jobless benefits tumbled to near a 49-year low last week, which could ease concerns about a slowdown in the labor market and economy.

FILE PHOTO: People wait in line to attend TechFair LA, a technology job fair, in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 26, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 27,000 to a seasonally adjusted 206,000 for the week ended Dec. 8, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Last week’s decline in claims was the largest since April 2015. Claims hit 202,000 in mid-September, which was the lowest level since December 1969.

Data for the prior week was revised to show 2,000 more applications received than previously reported.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims falling to 225,000 in the latest week. Claims shot up to an eight-month high of 235,000 during the week ended Nov. 24.

The Labor Department said only claims for Virginia were estimated last week.

The four-week moving average of initial claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, fell 3,750 to 224,750 last week.

While difficulties adjusting the data around holidays likely boosted applications in prior weeks, there were concerns the labor market was losing some momentum given financial market volatility, the fading stimulus from a $1.5 trillion tax cut and the Trump administration’s protectionist trade policy.

Last week’s sharp drop in claims also suggests a slowdown in job growth in November was likely the result of worker shortages. Nonfarm payrolls increased by 155,000 jobs after surging by 237,000 in October.

With the unemployment rate near a 49-year low of 3.7 percent, Federal Reserve officials view the labor market as being at or beyond full employment.

The U.S. central bank is expected to raise interest rates at its Dec. 18-19 policy meeting. The Fed has hiked rates three times this year. Most economists expect the central bank will increase borrowing costs twice next year, although traders expect no more than one rate increase.

Thursday’s claims report also showed the number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid increased 25,000 to 1.67 million for the week ended Dec. 1.

The four-week moving average of the so-called continuing claims slipped 2,500 to 1.67 million.

Reporting by Lucia Mutikani Editing by Paul Simao



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Gir lions maul fisherman returning home, half-eaten body causes panic

Gir lions maul fisherman returning home, half-eaten body causes panic


When it was discovered, the body of Rambhai Chudasma was half-eaten.

Police inspect the victim's body on Thursday morning.

Police inspect the victim’s body on Thursday morning.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • A man was mauled by a pride of lions in Gir Forest on Thursday early morning
  • The victim, Rambhai Chudasma, was walking home at 2am when he was attacked
  • Seeing his half-eaten body, locals here are panic-stricken

The lions of Gir Forest mauled a 37-year-old fisherman who was returning home in the wee hours of Thursday morning in Bhavnagar’s Mahuva tehsil.

When it was discovered, the body of Rambhai Chudasma was half-eaten.

The famous lions of Gir prowling outside the forest area have triggered panic among locals.

Forest officials have arrived at the village to trace the man-eater lions but are yet to meet with any success so far.

On the other hand, locals are panicked over the belief that once when a lion tastes the blood of a human, the big cat then starts prowling on humans.

Recently, three forest officials were attacked by lions at the Devliya Forest Range. One of them was killed while the other two were critically wounded in the attack.

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Parliament terror attack: When Sachin Tendulkar provided a distraction

Parliament terror attack: When Sachin Tendulkar provided a distraction


The Parliament terror attack happened on December 13, 2001.

Sachin Tendulkar in Rajya Sabha. (Rajya Sabha TV grab)

Sachin Tendulkar in Rajya Sabha. (Rajya Sabha TV grab)

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Five gunmen had stormed the Parliament complex on December 13, 2001
  • The gunmen had used the special stickers bearing labels of home ministry
  • Several top politicians were inside the building

It was considered the worst security lapse in India since the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 and only comparable with the slip in the security of his mother and then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984. Five gunmen had stormed the Parliament complex and opened indiscriminate fire taking security apparatus by surprise.

The Parliament terror attack happened on December 13, 2001. The gunmen had used the special stickers bearing labels of the home ministry and Parliament to get a security clearance without being checked.

Once inside the Parliament complex, the terrorists rammed the vehicle off then Vice-President Krishan Kant, who was on the premises. Both houses of Parliament had been adjourned about half-an-hour earlier. After driving into the Vice-President’s car, the terrorists came out of their vehicle and started firing.

The security guard of the Vice-President shot back while others quickly got into action. Some ran towards the main Parliament compound to close the gates. Several top politicians including home minister LK Advani were inside the building.

When this attack happened and a fight-back was in progress in New Delhi, some 1,000km afar, Sachin Tendulkar, the former cricketer, provided a distraction to millions of Indian fans. India were playing England in a test match at the Motera Stadium.

England had posted a formidable score of 407 in the first innings. India was struggling when Sachin Tendulkar shone with brilliance hitting a century to give India a respectable total. The match was played between December 11 and 15.

It was December 13 afternoon when Sachin Tendulkar hit his 27th century to equal the record of Allan Border and Steve Waugh trailing only Sunil Gavaskar and Don Bradman.

The batting display by Sachin Tendulkar that day provided a distraction for people, who were in shock hearing the news of terror attack on Parliament when Winter Session was in business. Nine security personnel were killed. All five terrorists were also killed.

The later probe showed that the Parliament terror attack was a joint operation by terror outfits Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad. Wanted terrorists Maulana Masood Azhar, Ghazi Baba alias Abu Jehadi and Tariq Ahmed were named as conspirators by the agencies.

Afzal Guru and Shaukat Hussain Guru were convicted for Parliament terror attack. Afzal Guru was awarded death sentence while the Supreme Court commuted Shaukat Hussain’s punishment to a 10-year prison term. Shaukat Hussain Guru was released from jail in 2010 while Afzal Guru was hanged in Tihar Jail in 2013.

Also read: Modi pays tribute to 2001 Parliament attack martyrs: Their courage inspires every Indian

ALSO WATCH| Afzal Guru’s interview after 2001 Parliament attack

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