Daily Archives: June 12, 2018

Defending champions Germany arrive in Russia for World Cup

Germany landed in Moscow on Tuesday to attempt to successfully defend their World Cup title and hoping to leave the political controversy surrounding Mesut Ozil and Ilkay Gundogan behind them.

Merkel faces conservative rebellion over migration policy

BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel faced a rebellion over migrant policy on Tuesday that risks destabilizing her coalition, just as she is pushing EU partners to agree a common solution.
Merkel’s handling of the migrant crisis – which saw more than 1.6 million people arrive in Germany from 2014 and helped propel the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) into parliament – has come back to haunt her in the last few weeks.

On Tuesday, some senior members of Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) opted to back her hardline Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, a Bavarian conservative who has long been a thorn in the chancellor’s side over migration.

Seehofer had been due to announce a “Migrant Masterplan” under which Germany would turn away at its borders those asylum seekers who have already been registered in another European Union state.

However, Seehofer had to cancel Tuesday’s presentation of the plan – which envisages fully reversing an open-door policy Merkel announced in 2015 – due to differences with his boss.

The alleged rape and killing of a 14-year-old German girl by an Iraqi man, extradited from Iraq on Saturday, has reignited the debate on migrants and followed a scandal at a regional office which wrongly granted asylum applications.

Seehofer, a former leader of the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) which is facing a difficult regional election in October, wants to show he is toughening up the rules in his 63-point master plan.

Merkel objects to turning away asylum seekers at the border, fearing it could lead other countries to do the same. She is also trying to persuade other EU leaders to agree a common migrant policy at a summit this month.

However, a new anti-establishment Italian government is also vowing to turn away migrants – it has already forced one ship to divert to Spain – and it is unclear whether she will succeed. Eastern European EU countries also object to a proposal under which migrants would be resettled around the bloc under a quota system.

Merkel’s open-door policy for Germany has already been gradually scaled back and Christian Democrat General-Secretary Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, widely seen as a possible successor to Merkel, said the party’s leadership supported her position.

However, some other senior party members made clear they backed Seehofer. “As long as there is no satisfactory European solution, national measures must be possible,” said Mike Mohring, head of the parliamentary CDU group in the eastern state of Thuringia.

Saxony’s state premier, Michael Kretschmer, told Die Welt daily: “Of course, people who have no chance of getting asylum in Germany must be rejected at the border,” adding that this includes people who had applied for asylum in other countries.

The Social Democrats, the junior partner in Merkel’s grand coalition, have largely left the two conservative parties to fight it out between themselves.

However, the anti-immigration AfD said Seehofer must prevail. “Slowly but surely, the realisation is dawning on Europe that a European solution for the asylum crisis doesn’t work,” said one of the party’s leaders, Alexander Gauland.

“Italy is going further than other states: migrants will not be accepted in the ports any more. Other states will surely follow,” he said in a statement.

Didn’t lose my place to a normal cricketer, it was Dhoni: Karthik

It wasn’t easy being Dinesh Karthik in an era where Mahendra Singh Dhoni redefined the role of a keeper-batsman. Having last played a Test match way back in 2010, Karthik, during all these years of soul searching, was honest in his analysis as to why he didn’t get a chance to wear the white flannels.

Saweety Boora strikes gold at Russian boxing tourney

Indian boxer Saweety Boora claimed a gold medal in the Umakhanov Memorial Tournament after beating Anna Anfinogenova in the final in Kaspiysk, Russia on Tuesday.

May retail inflation hits 4-month peak of 4.87% on hardening fuel, food prices

NEW DELHI: Inflation based on consumer price index (CPI), also known as retail inflation, for the month of May spiked to 4.87 per cent, government data showed on Tuesday.

Retail inflation now stands at a four-month high after topping the 4.58 per cent it recorded in April. This is now the seventh straight month that inflation has breached the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) comfort zone — its mid-term target of capping it at 4 per cent.

2018-06-12

As per the data of the Central Statistics Office (CSO), food inflation rose to 3.10 per cent last month, as against 2.8 per cent in April.

The spike in inflation came on back of fuel prices after global oil prices hit a 3-1/2-year high last month, led by increasing worries of supply constraints from US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement.

“Rising crude prices would not only impact headline inflation but would also put pressure on price levels as the twin deficit goes up,” noted Kunal Kundu, an economist at Societe Generale ahead of the data, referring to India’s budget and current account gaps.

The RBI in its bid to tighten inflation, increased repo rate last week, for the first time in more than four years. The central bank however, kept its “neutral” policy stance unchanged.

A Reuters poll of economists which predicted the inflation to come at 4.83 per cent, also suggested more policy tightening from RBI in the coming months.

Another set of data released by the government showed that the industrial output or IIP has increased to 4.9 per cent in April from 3.2 per cent last year.

The manufacturing sector, which constitute more than 77 per cent of the index, recorded a growth of 5.2 per cent in April, up from 2.9 per cent in the year ago month.

Sweden charges man at center of Nobel scandal

COPENHAGEN: Jean-Claude Arnault, the man at the center of a sex-abuse and financial crimes scandal that is tarnishing the academy which awards the Nobel Prize in Literature, was on Tuesday charged with two counts of rape of a woman in 2011.

Swedish prosecutor Christina Voigt said the evidence “is robust and sufficient for prosecution.”

Jean-Claude Arnault, a well-known figure in Sweden who ran a cultural center, is married to poet and member of the Swedish Academy, Katarina Frostenson. He has denied this and other sex abuse allegations.

In April, the Swedish Academy said an internal investigation into sexual misconduct allegations found that “unacceptable behavior in the form of unwanted intimacy” has taken place within the ranks of the prestigious institution.

Voight didn’t name the victim as is the customary in Sweden. The secretive 18-member board has in recent months been embroiled in a sex-abuse scandal that investigators concluded was “not generally known.” It has led to the departure of at least six of members of the Academy and tarnished the prize’s reputation.

The academy had commissioned lawyers to investigate sexual misconduct claims from 18 women against Arnault. In April, it had decided to hand over the internal report to relevant judicial authorities.

Sweden charges man at center of Nobel scandal

COPENHAGEN: Jean-Claude Arnault, the man at the center of a sex-abuse and financial crimes scandal that is tarnishing the academy which awards the Nobel Prize in Literature, was on Tuesday charged with two counts of rape of a woman in 2011.

Swedish prosecutor Christina Voigt said the evidence “is robust and sufficient for prosecution.”

Jean-Claude Arnault, a well-known figure in Sweden who ran a cultural center, is married to poet and member of the Swedish Academy, Katarina Frostenson. He has denied this and other sex abuse allegations.

In April, the Swedish Academy said an internal investigation into sexual misconduct allegations found that “unacceptable behavior in the form of unwanted intimacy” has taken place within the ranks of the prestigious institution.

Voight didn’t name the victim as is the customary in Sweden. The secretive 18-member board has in recent months been embroiled in a sex-abuse scandal that investigators concluded was “not generally known.” It has led to the departure of at least six of members of the Academy and tarnished the prize’s reputation.

The academy had commissioned lawyers to investigate sexual misconduct claims from 18 women against Arnault. In April, it had decided to hand over the internal report to relevant judicial authorities.

Following IOA, HI appeal, SAI promises ‘strict action’ in Bengaluru

Responding to letters from the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and Hockey India (HI) following national men’s hockey team chief coach Harendra Singh’s harsh criticism of the quality of food and the hygiene level at the its centre in Bengaluru, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) has said that it will take “strict action” following an “urgent meeting” called by the Director General.

Land acquisition deadline for bullet train project set to be missed: Sources

PALGHAR/TOKYO: India is set to miss a December deadline to acquire land for the Japan-backed $17 billion bullet train project following protests by fruit growers, government officials said, likely delaying one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s most ambitious projects.

The PMO is now monitoring the project week-to-week, as officials seek to reassure Tokyo that the hurdles can be overcome through intense negotiations with sapota (fruit popularly known as chiku) and mango growers in Maharashtra.

Protests, backed by local politicians, have flared up in recent months against attempts to secure sections of a 108-km stretch, which is around one-fifth of the entire bullet train corridor connecting Mumbai with Ahmedabad, the largest commercial city in Modi’s home state Gujarat.

“I’ve worked hard for three decades to develop this plantation, and they are asking me to hand over this land,” sapota farmer Dashrat Purav, 62, said as he showed his orchard in the town of Palghar, a three-hour-drive north of Mumbai.

“I haven’t worked hard to surrender land for the project. I did that for my children.” Purav said he would sell his land only if at least one of his two unemployed sons was promised a government job.

Protests against land acquisitions are common in India as tens of millions of farmers till small holdings. A planned $44 billion refinery to be run by a consortium including Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil producer, is also struggling to secure land in Maharashtra.

“Land acquisition for any project is complex in India,” said Dhananjay Kumar, spokesman for the National High Speed Rail Corp Ltd (NHSRCL) that is overseeing the project. “Here also we are facing difficulty because of so much resistance.”

Failure to procure the bullet train land by the deadline would delay disbursal of soft-loans by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), a government development body, which is reviewing the project next month, said two senior officials with the state-run Indian Railways, declining to be named.

A JICA spokeswoman said that India must create relocation plans for local residents and make them public in order to enter into a loan agreement covering the main part of the bullet train project.

“It is possible that it takes time to sign a contract as India takes proper and careful measures in line with JICA’s guidelines for environmental and social considerations,” she said.

To assuage Japan’s concerns, Indian officials have sought a meeting this month with transport ministry officials in Tokyo, one of the Indian officials said. The government wants the project’s completion target to be advanced by a year to 2022, the 75th year of India’s independence.

A Japanese transport ministry official who deals with the bullet train project said that Indian officials had told them that “they can manage” the land acquisition.

“We will continue to work together with the Indian government to bring this project forward with an aim to start operation in 2023,” the official said.

“NOT INSURMOUNTABLE”

Japan is majority-funding the train project through a 50-year loan. Japanese companies such as Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal Corp, JFE Holdings, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Toshiba Corp and Hitachi are likely to supply at least 70 per cent of the core components of the rail line, sources told Reuters in January.

Modi has called the project crucial for his pet “Make in India” campaign aimed at lifting the share of manufacturing in India’s $2 trillion economy. The government also hopes to generate hundreds of jobs through the train project, and hence is pushing hard to finish it on time.

To sweeten the terms for people opposed to selling their land, Indian Railways has put its weight behind NHSRCL, pledging funds from its own welfare scheme to build schools and community halls, one of the officials said.

Ashwani Lohani, chairman of the Indian Railway Board, said the issues with farmers were not insurmountable.

The government has offered to buy land at a 25 per cent premium to the market value, the two government officials said. Farmers are also being offered resettlement dues of Rs 5 lakh or 50 per cent of the land value, whichever is higher.

However, local political opposition in Palghar, ahead of a general election next year, has fanned the protests. Opponents say the bullet train is wasteful and the money would be better used upgrading the country’s rickety rail infrastructure. Farmers have threatened a hunger strike.

Last week, farmers and local activists disrupted a public hearing conducted by NHSRCL, its second attempt to hold such an event in less than a month. The first one last month was also cut short by protests.

“In coming weeks, we will intensify the protests,” said Nilam Gorhe, a spokesman for Shiv Sena, a party which shares an on-off relationship with the BJP.