Elon Musk loses cool as Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal rejects his Twitter takeover bid

News Network
April 15, 2022

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Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk on Friday took a jab at Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a major Twitter investor who rejected Musk's hostile offer to acquire 100 per cent of the micro-blogging platform for $43 billion.

Questioning Saudi Arabia's own media laws, Musk tweeted: "Just two questions, if I may. How much of Twitter does the Kingdom own, directly & indirectly? What are the Kingdom's views on journalistic freedom of speech?"

Musk reacted after the Saudi Prince rejected the Tesla CEO's cash offer of $54.20 per Twitter share.

"I don't believe that the proposed offer by @elonmusk ($54.20) comes close to the intrinsic value of (Twitter) given its growth prospects. Being one of the largest & long-term shareholders of Twitter, @Kingdom_KHC & I reject this offer," the prince tweeted.

Alwaleed, who runs the Kingdom Holding Company and is a nephew of Saudi Arabia's King Salman, said he was one of the oldest and largest shareholders in Twitter, reports Middle East Eye.

In 2015, he and his company owned a 5.2 per cent stake in the social media platform.

Musk on Friday started a new poll, with a tagline that "taking Twitter private at $54.20 should be up to shareholders, not the board.

"Will endeavour to keep as many shareholders in privatised Twitter as allowed by law," he tweeted.

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News Network
May 12,2022

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Colombo, May 12: Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as Sri Lanka's prime minister for the sixth time on Thursday, though the veteran politician has never completed a full term in office.

The 73-year-old's political career appeared to be drawing to a close before this week, when he agreed to helm a unity administration and help steer the South Asian island nation through a crippling economic crisis.

"This is a historic event," Tamil legislator Dharmalingam Sithadthan told AFP in reference to Wickremesinghe's latest return to the top office.

"This shows the desperate situation in our country."

Wickremesinghe is the sole parliamentary representative of the United National Party, a once-powerful political force that was nearly wiped out in Sri Lanka's last elections.

The former lawyer hails from a political family and his uncle Junius Jayewardene served as president for more than a decade.

But Wickremesinghe once told AFP he would have likely pursued a career as a journalist, had the government of the day not nationalised his family's newspaper business in 1973.

He was first appointed premier in 1993 after the assassination of then-president Ranasinghe Premadasa, who was killed in a bomb attack by Tamil Tiger guerrillas during Sri Lanka's decades-long civil war.

Underscoring the dynastic nature of Sri Lanka's politics, Premadasa's son Sajith is the current opposition leader and had also been touted as a possible prime ministerial candidate this week.

Wickremesinghe's first term in office lasted little more than a year.

He returned to power in 2001, earning a reputation for sound economic management after steering the country out of recession.

Conflict with the president saw him sacked before his term was over, and he spent the next decade in the political wilderness.

Wickremasinghe lost two presidential contests and led his party to a string of election defeats, prompting even his own supporters to dub him a "record loser".

He was nonetheless sworn in as prime minister again in 2015 after the election defeat of president Mahinda Rajapaksa after the opposition rallied behind him as a unity candidate against the authoritarian leader.

His "Mr Clean" image was muddied later that year when his administration was rocked by an insider trading scam involving central bank bonds.

A key accused in the multi-million dollar scam was the central bank chief at the time, Arjuna Mahendran, who was Wickremesinghe's schoolmate and choice for the job.

He was accused of cronyism during his tenure and failing to prosecute members of the previous Rajapaksa regime, members of which had been accused of graft, kickbacks and siphoning off public finances.

Political conflict with the powerful Rajapaksa family also threw the country into crisis in 2018, with Mahinda taking over the premiership for six weeks before the Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional.

Wickremesinghe returns to office to replace Mahinda Rajapaksa, who resigned on Monday after his supporters attacked anti-government demonstrators, and later had to be rescued from his residence by the military.

He will serve at the pleasure of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Mahinda's younger brother, who has fought off calls for his own resignation over the government's mismanagement of the economic crisis.

Wickremesinghe will be taking charge of a bankrupt nation in default of its $51-billion foreign debt and without money to import essential goods.

His status as a pro-West, free-market reformist could smooth bailout negotiations with the International Monetary Fund and foreign creditors.

But he has already warned there will be no quick fix to the nation's unprecedented economic woes.

"The worst is yet to come. We have very high inflation now and hyperinflation is on its way," Wickremesinghe told parliament last week.

"We should start addressing the issues now, we can't put it off any longer," he added. 

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News Network
May 11,2022

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New Delhi, May 11: In the wake of the Supreme Court order staying the registration of FIRs, ongoing probes and coercive measures under the sedition law, all eyes will be on the fate of several high-profile cases registered under the draconian British-era law.

According to a National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report, a total of 356 cases of sedition -- as defined under section 124A of the IPC -- were registered and 548 people arrested between 2015 and 2020, out of which only six were convicted.

A 21-year-old Bengaluru-based environment activist, Disha Ravi, was arrested by the Delhi Police on February 14, 2021 for allegedly creating and disseminating a "toolkit" on the farmers' protests against farm laws brought by the BJP government at the Centre.

The toolkit was tweeted by Swedish environment activist Greta Thunberg on February 3, 2021.

The Delhi Police registered an FIR against Ravi, who was working at a vegan store in Bengaluru and fighting for environment issues since her student days, under IPC sections 124A (sedition), 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 153A (promoting enmity between different groups).

Ravi was granted bail on February 23, 2021 by a Delhi court, which stated that "the offence of sedition cannot be invoked to minister to the wounded vanity of the governments".

Additional sessions judge Dharmender Rana said citizens are "conscience keepers" of the government in any democratic nation, and they cannot be put behind the bars simply because they choose to disagree with State policies.

In 2016, a group of students from the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University had held a poetry session to mark the third anniversary of the hanging of 2001 Parliament attack case convict Afzal Guru. The Delhi Police later charged the then JNU student union president Kanhaiya Kumar, along with other students and union leaders, including Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, under section 124A and other provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Three Kashmiri students, who were enrolled in the RBS Engineering College, Agra under the PM Special Scholarship Scheme for the students of Jammu and Kashmir, were arrested on October 28 last year for allegedly posting a WhatsApp status praising Pakistani players after their victory against India in a T20 cricket match.

They were languishing in prison till April 26 this year even after securing bail on March 30 from the Allahabad High Court due to the non-availability of local guarantors, a high-security amount and police verification.

Some noted journalists like late Vinod Dua had to face the wrath of the draconian law for views expressed by them on social media.

Dua, in his programme on Youtube on March 30, 2020, made remarks against the government's handling of the Covid crisis, following which an FIR was registered against him by the Himachal Pradesh Police under the sedition law and other charges on a complaint by a BJP leader in Shimla.

The sedition charges were quashed by the Supreme Court which held that journalists are entitled to protection in sedition cases so long as they do not incite people to violence against the government established by law or with the intention of creating public disorder.

Kerala-based journalist Siddique Kappan was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh Police while he was on his way to report the rape case of a Dalit woman in Hathras on October 5, 2020.

The FIR against him claimed that he was going to Hathras with the intention "to breach the peace" as part of a "conspiracy".

The Special Task Force of Uttar Pradesh, in its charge sheet filed in April last year, charged eight people linked to the Popular Front of India, including its students' wing leader K A Rauf Sherif and Kappan, for sedition, criminal conspiracy, funding of terror activities and other offences.

Booker Prize winner writer and activist Arundhati Roy was booked under the sedition law, along with Hurriyat leader Late Syed Ali Shah Geelani and others, in 2010 for their alleged "anti-India" speech at a seminar.

Roy and others were charged under sections 124A, 153A (promoting enmity between classes), 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration), 504 (insult intended to provoke breach of peace) and 505 (false statement, rumour circulated with intent to cause mutiny or offence against public peace.

Student leader from JNU and IIT passout Sharjeel Imam is facing charges under the sedition law for making alleged inflammatory speeches during the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in 2019.

A court has framed charges against Imam, who is in judicial custody since 2020, under sections 124A, 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion), 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration), 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) of the IPC, and section 13 (punishment for unlawful activities) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Activities (UAPA).

As per the prosecution, Imam had allegedly made speeches at Jamia Millia Islamia on December 13, 2019, and at Aligarh Muslim University on December 16, 2019, where he threatened to cut off Assam and the rest of the northeast from India. In his defence, Imam had earlier told the court that he is not a terrorist and his prosecution is a whip of a monarch rather than a government established by law.

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News Network
May 4,2022

Lalitpur, May 4: A 13-year-old girl, who was allegedly raped by four people, was raped again by the Station House Officer (SHO) of a police station where she had gone to file a case, officials said on Wednesday.

The police have arrested three of the accused after an FIR was registered against five people, including the SHO, who has been suspended and is presently absconding, they said.

Senior police officials said the FIR was lodged based on the complaint of the victim.

"The FIR was lodged under various sections of the IPC, including 363 (kidnapping), 376 (rape), 376 B (intercourse by public servant with woman in his custody), 120 B (conspiracy), POCSO Act and SC/ST Act," a police statement said.

According to the victim's mother, her daughter was taken to Bhopal on April 22 by four men and was raped there for three days. The accused left the girl at the Pali police station, where she was allegedly raped by the SHO.

The girl reached a childline NGO later and narrated the whole incident during counselling.

The NGO approached the Superintendent of Police, after whose intervention, an FIR was registered on Tuesday.

"The police have arrested three accused, while attempts are on to nab others, including the SHO," Superintendent of Police Nikhil Pathak said.

The Samajwadi Party attacked the Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government over the incident, asking where should "daughters go" and "whom to trust" in this government.

"The biggest question in the BJP government is whom to trust and whom to not. A minor, who reached the police station to file rape complaint was raped by the SHO himself.

"Now the CM should tell, where should victim daughters go? Security of the victim should be ensured and strict action should be taken against those found guilty," the party said in a tweet in Hindi.

SP chief Akhilesh Yadav is expected to go to Lalitpur to meet the rape survivor's family.

Attacking the state government in series of tweets, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said, "The incident of gangrape with a 13-year-old girl in Lalitpur and then rape by a police officer after taking a complaint shows how the real reforms of law and order are being suppressed in the noise of "bulldozer". If police station are not safe for women, where will they go with their complaints." "Has the UP government seriously thought about increasing the deployment of women in police stations, making them safer for women? The Congress party had in its women's manifesto had made many important points for women security..Today its Lalitpur...", she said.

To prevent such incidents, serious steps should be taken for women's safety and women friendly law system, she added.

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