Citizenship Bill an attack on Indian constitution, tweets Rahul Gandhi

News Network
December 10,2019

New Delhi, Dec 10: Calling it an "attack on Indian Constitution", Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday lambasted those hailing the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and said that supporting it means "attempting to destroy the foundation of the country".

Taking to Twitter, Gandhi said, "The #CAB is an attack on the Indian constitution. Anyone who supports it is attacking and attempting to destroy the foundation of our nation."

Meanwhile, according to sources, the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which was passed by Lok Sabha on Monday, will be tabled in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

Lok Sabha passed the Citizenship Bill with a majority of 311 votes against 80 votes where 391 members were present and voted.

The Bill, which seeks to give citizenship to refugees from the Hindu, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist and Zorastrian communities fleeing religious persecution from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh was passed in Lok Sabha on Monday.

In the Rajya Sabha, the Modi government requires the support of at least 123 MPs in the 245-member House to pass the bill.

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India, Israel join hands to develop rapid testing for Covid-19 in under 30 seconds

Agencies
July 23,2020

Jerusalem, Jul 23: Merging Israel's technological expertise with India's mass production capabilities, experts from the two countries have joined hands to develop rapid testing for Covid-19 in under 30 seconds.

Israel will soon send a high-level research delegation to India to conduct a series of "final stages of testing" as part of the joint effort to develop the rapid testing kits for Covid-19 .

A high ranking team from the Directorate of Defence Research and Development (DDR&D), in the Ministry of Defense, which has been working with India's DRDO to develop rapid testing for Covid-19 in under 30 seconds, is to leave from Tel Aviv to New Delhi on a special flight in a few days, Israel's Ministry of Defence said in a statement on Thursday.

Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and Ministry of Health are also involved in this unprecedented cooperation between the two countries which aims at "merging Israeli technology with Indian development and production capabilities to allow a swift resumption of normal life alongside the virus".

The DDR&D team will conduct a series of "final stages of testing" to determine the effectiveness of a number of rapid diagnostic solutions with their Indian counterparts.

Since the start of the pandemic, the DDR&D has tested dozens of diagnostic technologies. Some of them have matured and passed initial trials in Israel, however in order to complete testing and prove their effectiveness, these must be tested on a wide range of patients, IMoD said.

The four tech systems that will be tested are - voice test, breathalyzer test based on terra-hertz waves, isothermal test, and polyamino acids test.

"What they all have in common is the ability to detect the presence of the virus in the body quickly- usually within minutes. Developing diagnostic capabilities is a goal for the State of Israel and of many additional countries around the world. It is the most effective way to cut off 'chains of infection', prevent prolonged quarantine and enable the reopening of the global economy," the statement said.

"We hope that the research and development led by the DDR&D together with our excellent industries and academic institutions, will lead to a breakthrough that will change the way we diagnose and fight the virus, while giving the boost necessary to 'restart' our economy," Defense Minister Benny Gantz said.

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi noted that this cooperation provides a unique opportunity for scientific and technological cooperation that can assist Israel, India and the world in coping both with the pandemic and with the economic crisis that came with it.

The cooperation between Israel and India will enable the delegation and its Indian counterparts, to collect tens of thousands of samples in just ten days, and analyze them using computer systems based on artificial intelligence. This massive sampling will shorten processes and advance the approval of effective technology. All tests will be validated using PCR tests.

"The cooperation between India and Israel on Covid-19 is a good example of harnessing the scientific and technological strengths that the two countries have for larger, common good. It will also further deepen our strategic ties,” India's Ambassador Sanjeev Singla told PTI.

The flight will be carrying some breakthrough emerging Israeli technologies for combatting Covid-19, which have been donated by the Israeli foreign ministry and the private sector, in order to bolster India’s response to the virus outbreak.

The plane will also deliver mechanical ventilators which were given special permission by Israel for export to India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu have held three telephonic conversations since the outbreak of the pandemic and promised mutual assistance in dealing with the virus, committing to joint technological and scientific research between the countries.

The Israeli media widely reported that Modi lifted a ban on the export of Hydroxychloroquine at Netanyahu's request.

"The past few years have cemented the strategic relations between India and Israel and have included two historical visits of the Prime Ministers in Israel and in India," a press statement from the ministry of defence said.

"India seeks to integrate advanced technologies in its hospitals as they prepare to treat massive waves of Covid-19 patients on an Indian scale. The Israeli companies chosen by the MFA, MOD and Israel Defence Forces to be sent to India are potentially given unique access to one of the largest economies in the world to provide monitoring and treatment technologies while significantly reducing contact between the patients and the medical staff," it said.

"By opening the door to India’s market with its development and production capabilities, these Israeli technologies can be mass produced at a lower cost and could in future be jointly exported to third countries," it said.

"The COVID-19 pandemic is a global challenge, so it is only right that the solution be a global scientific cooperation between countries. India and Israel’s military R&D cooperation is well known for its success. I have no doubt the same will be seen in the private sector joined by brilliant scientific minds from both countries to introduce a breakthrough in swift and simple testing procedures,” said Prof. Nati Keller, an infectious diseases specialist from Sheba Medical Center, who is leading the medical side of the delegation.

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Several dead, dozens trapped after massive landslide in Kerala's Munnar

News Network
August 7,2020

Idukki, Aug 7: Several people lost their lives and dozens of tea estate workers are feared trapped under soil in Kerala’s Munnar after torrential rains triggered a massive landslide on today. 

As many as five bodies have been recovered and rescue workers are fighting inclement weather to remove the debris.

According to rescue workers, four lanes of quarters and a church are buried under mud and around 80 people are feared trapped.

Seven people have been rescued so far and shifted to the hospital.

Sources said a portion of Pettimudi came crashing down on the workers colony with a deafening roar in the wee hours of Friday.

As people were sleeping in the quarters, there was little time to escape.

Further, with the Periyavara bridge being washed away, it became all the more difficult for rescue workers to reach the spot.

The construction of a new temporary Periyavara bridge however, is underway.

The bridge was previously destructed during the deluge of August 2018. Later during the north west monsoons and the south west monsoon of 2019, it suffered damage again.

The present bridge, which got damaged on Thursday after Kannimala river levels rose, was constructed under the leadership of Coir fed.

Although a new concrete bridge has been constructed near the temporary bridge in Periyavara, vehicle  movement has not been possible because the authorities are yet to build its approach via road.

The new bridge is to be constructed at a cost of Rs 4.75 crore from Devikulam MLA S Rajendran's fund.

The entire area has been cut off from outside world and communication networks have also crashed.

Teams of Fire and Rescue personnel, NDRF, revenue officials, estate workers and police are struggling to conduct rescue operations.

Meanwhile, District collector H Dhineshan said a team of rescue personnel was sent to Pettymudy after he was briefed about the mishap and search operations to locate and rescue people are underway.

Facilities have been arranged at the hospitals nearby to provide necessary treatment facilities to the people being rescued.

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Trump signs executive orders banning TikTok, WeChat for 45 days

Agencies
August 7,2020

Washington, Aug 7: US President Donald Trump on Thursday (local time) signed executive orders halting all transactions with Chinese applications TikTok and WeChat within 45 days, citing national security concerns, further escalating the tensions between Beijing and Washington.

"WeChat, a messaging, social media, and electronic payment application owned by the Chinese company Tencent Holdings Ltd., reportedly has over one billion users worldwide, including users in the United States. Like TikTok, WeChat automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users. 

This data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) access to Americans' personal and proprietary information," Trump said in a statement.

Citing reasons for the ban on WeChat, the US President said that the application captures the personal and proprietary information of Chinese nationals visiting the US, thereby providing the CCP a mechanism to keep tabs on the Chinese citizens who may be "enjoying the benefits of a free society for the first time in their lives".

"In March 2019, a researcher reportedly discovered a Chinese database containing billions of WeChat messages sent from users in not only China but also the United States, Taiwan, South Korea and Australia. WeChat, like TikTok, also reportedly censors content that the CCP deems politically sensitive and may also be used for disinformation campaigns that benefit the CCP. 

These risks have led other countries, including Australia and India, to begin restricting or banning the use of WeChat. The US must take aggressive action against the owner of WeChat to protect our national security," he added.

Earlier, Trump had issued an order banning TikTok as it "reportedly censors content that the CCP deems politically sensitive, such as content concerning protests in Hong Kong and China's treatment of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities. 

TikTok may also be used for disinformation campaigns that benefit the CCP."
US politicians have repeatedly criticised TikTok, owned by Beijing-based startup ByteDance, of being a threat to national security because of its ties to China.

The development comes as China and the US are at loggerheads on a variety of issues including Hong Kong national security law, the South China Sea, the novel coronavirus and trade.

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