Zahid N Quraishi to be first ever Muslim federal judge in US history

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March 31, 2021

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Washington, Mar 31: President Biden on Tuesday nominated Judge Zahid N. Quraishi to be a federal judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, a move that would make the Army veteran the first-ever lifetime-appointed Muslim federal judge if confirmed. 

"This trailblazing slate of nominees draws from the very best and brightest minds of the American legal profession," the White House said in a statement Tuesday about a list that also included 10 other nominees. "Each is deeply qualified and prepared to deliver justice faithfully under our Constitution and impartially to the American people — and together they represent the broad diversity of background, experience, and perspective that makes our nation strong."

Quraishi was appointed in 2019 to be a magistrate judge in the District of New Jersey by the judges he now seeks to join on the bench. A magistrate judge is not technically considered a member of the federal bench the same way a district court or circuit judge is because the position is not outlined in the Constitution's Article III and magistrate judges are not appointed by the president. 

Magistrate judges are assigned by statute to oversee some matters and may also be delegated tasks by bona fide district judges.

Quraishi, who is of Pakistani descent, got his law degree from Rutgers Law School, where he currently serves as an adjunct professor.

Quraishi was a military prosecutor with the JAG Corps during his time in the Army and did deployments in Iraq in 2004 and 2006, according to his Rutgers bio page. He later worked with the Department of Homeland Security then served as a federal prosecutor in the District of New Jersey.

The Biden nominee has also received several honors for his work, according to his Rutgers bio, including the 2019 New Jersey Muslim Lawyers Association Trailblazer of the Year Award.

Just before his magistrate judge appointment, Quraishi worked in white collar private practice at the law firm Riker Danzig, according to Rutgers, where he was also the chief diversity officer.

"The first Muslim-American who was nominated to serve on the federal bench was denied that opportunity to serve and that was Abid Qureshi," said Lena Zwarensteyn, the fair courts campaign senior director at the liberal Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights. Qureshi was nominated in late 2016, just months before former President Barack Obama left office. 

"It is certainly time that there is much more representation in terms of various faiths or even no faith on the bench," Zwarensteyn said. 

There are no hearings or votes scheduled for Quarishi or any of Biden's other nominees in the Senate, and it is not clear how fast the Senate Judiciary Committee will move forward with the nominations. 

"The Senate will work quickly to confirm President Biden’s superb and accomplished judicial picks," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement Tuesday. "America is so much better when our rich diversity is reflected in every aspect of society, especially our justice system. We will have hearings and confirm judges to fill the growing number of vacancies on the federal bench and significantly mitigate the influence of Donald Trump’s unqualified, right-wing judges."

But Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, aimed to pump the brakes on speeding the nominees through committee -- while also leaving open the possibility that Republicans could back some Biden's judiciary picks. 

"The Judiciary Committee must evaluate each nominee on his or her merits and qualifications. The committee should give them a hard look to see if they have the experience, the temperament, and the commitment to the Constitution necessary to be a federal judge," Grassley said. "We should neither be a rubber stamp, nor should we oppose nominees as a matter of course, as many Democrats did during the Trump administration."

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August 16,2022

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Colombo, Aug 16: A Chinese research vessel entered Sri Lanka's Chinese-run southern port of Hambantota on Tuesday despite concerns from India and the United States about its activities.

The Yuan Wang 5 entered the Hambantota deep sea port after securing permission to enter Sri Lankan waters on the condition it will not engage in any research, port officials said.

The vessel was originally due to arrive last week, but Colombo asked Beijing to defer the visit following objections by India, which shares Western concerns about Chinese activities in the region.

But on Saturday, after intense negotiations, Colombo announced a U-turn, saying permission had been granted for the ship to dock at Hambantota and remain for six days.

Shipping analytics websites described the Yuan Wang 5 as a research and survey vessel, but according to Indian media, it is a dual-use spy ship.

New Delhi is suspicious of Beijing's increasing presence in the Indian Ocean and influence in Sri Lanka, seeing both as firmly within its sphere of influence.

A day before the arrival of the vessel, India gifted a Dornier 228 surveillance aircraft to Sri Lanka in a bid to bolster the island's maritime surveillance capabilities.

The Chinese ship was allowed into port on the condition it keeps its Automatic Identification System (AIS) switched on while in Sri Lankan waters and is not allowed to carry out scientific research.

The Hambantota port is run by China, which leased it for 99 years for $1.12 billion, less than the $1.4 billion Sri Lanka paid a Chinese company to build it.

According to Indian reports, the Yuan Wang 5 could be employed for space and satellite tracking and has specific uses in intercontinental ballistic missile launches.

The Indian government has expressed concern that the ship could spy on its activities, lodging a complaint with Colombo. The United States also expressed concern about the ship.

Sri Lanka borrowed heavily from China between 2005 and 2015, and in 2017 gave Beijing its lease on the Hambantota port, which is located on major East-West shipping lanes, after falling behind on debt repayments.

China remains Sri Lanka's biggest bilateral creditor, owning over 10 per cent of the island's foreign debt.

Beijing's support is essential for Colombo, currently suffering a dire economic crisis, to restructure its external borrowing to qualify for a bailout from the International Monetary Fund.

On August 4, President Ranil Wickremesinghe "reiterated Sri Lanka's firm commitment to the one-China policy" after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, warning against "non-interference in the internal affairs of countries".

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August 11,2022

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Mangaluru, Aug 11: On the lines of Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka Police have started attaching the properties of the persons accused of killing BJP Yuva Morcha activist Praveen Kumar Nettare.

However, no such action has been taken against murders of two Muslim men in Dakshina Kannada – Muhammad Fazil and Muhammad Masood. All three were murdered in the span of 10 days – July 19 to July 28. 

ADGP Alok Kumar confirmed on Wednesday that the process of attaching properties of the accused in Praveen murder case is on. The police along with the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) will attach the properties of the accused persons, he added.

Kumar also said that the main accused in the case are yet to be arrested.

"We have complete information about the killers of Praveen. The accused persons' photos, information about their family members -- everything has been gathered. However, the main accused in the case are being given shelter. They have been shifted to different places," he said.

"We will hold meetings in different districts. Maintaining law and order in the Mangaluru region is our focus. Action will be taken against those who directly or indirectly helped the main accused persons, in coordination with the NIA. The process of issuing warrants via court is on," Kumar said.

When asked about the involvement of Popular Front of India (PFI) in the murder, Kumar stated that few accused persons do have links with the PFI.

"Investigation in this regard is progressing and information regarding the accused who have links with the PFI would be given soon," he stated.

Kumar added that all the seven arrested accused so far are local residents. Now, the focus is on who gave them the instruction to carry out the murder.

On July 26, bike-borne miscreants attacked BJP activist Praveen at Bellare town in Dakshina Kannada district outside his chicken shop and hacked him to death.

Following the murder, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai had cancelled the celebrations of his one year in office. He visited Praveen's family and issued a cheque of Rs 25 lakh as compensation on behalf of the state government. The BJP had given Rs 25 lakh separately.

The incident had triggered a chain of protests by BJP workers all over Karnataka. The agitators had laid siege to Home Minister Araga Jnanendra's residence, causing severe embarrassment to the ruling party.

The probe had revealed that Praveen was targeted for launching a campaign against halal meat.

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August 5,2022

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Bengaluru, Aug 5: Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Friday said that Kannada film star Puneeth Rajkumar, who died last year, will be conferred with the 'Karnataka Ratna' award posthumously, on November 1, which happens to be Kannada Rajyotsava, the state's formation day.

He will be the 10th recipient of the state's highest civilian honour.

"We have decided to confer the Karnataka Ratna award to Puneeth Rajkumar on November 1, we will be forming a committee consisting of Rajkumar family members to prepare for it, it will be conferred with full honour," Bommai said. He was speaking after inaugurating the annual Independence Day flower show at Lalbagh's glass house.

This year's flower show pays a special floral tribute to Kannada thespian Dr Rajkumar and his son and actor Puneeth Rajkumar.

Considered the Kannada cinema's reigning star, Puneeth, the youngest of five children of Kannada matinee idol Dr Rajkumar, died of a cardiac arrest on October 29 at the age of 46.

The Chief Minister had made an announcement to confer the award on the late actor in November last year, at the ''Puneetha Namana,'' an event to pay homage to Puneeth Rajkumar, organised by the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce (KFCC), in association with Sandalwood film actors' and technicians' associations.

The Karnataka Ratna was last awarded to Dr Virendra Heggade for social service in 2009. Interestingly, Puneeth's late father Rajkumar is among the first recipients of the Karnataka Ratna award in 1992, along with poet Kuvempu.

Other recipients of the award are S Nijalingappa (Politics), CNR Rao (Science), Dr Devi Prasad Shetty (Medical), Bhimsen Joshi (Music), Shivakumara Swamiji (Social Service), and Dr J Javaregowda (Education & Literature).

Puneeth, popularly known as 'Appu' and 'power star' by his fans, made his debut on screen when he was just six months old and went on to win a national award as a child artiste for the film 'Bettada Hoovu'. He then re-emerge as a lead actor in 2002 and went on to star in 29 films, delivering some big hits.

Noting that the flower show has been on since 1922 and attracts a large number of people, Bommai said this being the 75th year of India's Independence it has a special significance and from tomorrow lakhs of people will be coming for next ten days to witness the show.

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