Putin bans agricultural imports from US

Moscow: In retaliation to the sanctions imposed on Russia over the Ukraine crisis, President Vladimir Putin has ordered a ban on imports of agricultural products from the United States.

The move comes close on the heels of the latest sanctions the European Union imposed on Russia last week. Alexei Alexeenko from Russia’s plant and veterinary oversight service was also quoted as saying that all fruits and vegetables from EU countries will also be banned.

Russia which annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in March has been accused of supplying arms to pro-Moscow insurgents and adding to the tension in eastern Ukraine. The US and EU imposed asset freezes and loan bans on a number of individuals and companies in Russia which according to President Barack Obama has brought the Russian economy to a halt.

According to White House spokesperson Laura Lucas Magnuson, Russia which depends heavily on imported foodstuffs from the West might be causing further damage to its economy by retaliating against and alienating itself from the West countries.

Russia also banned import of apples and other fruits from Poland citing sanitary issues but speculation has it that the move was in response to Poland’s support of the Ukraine authorities.

Source: http://www.firstpost.com/world/putin-hits-back-bans-agricultural-imports-west-tit-tat-sanctions-1653499.htm






Death toll rises to 589 in the China earthquake

Photo Courtesy – www.dailyjournal.net

Ludian, China: 589 people are feared dead in the 6.5 magnitude earthquake in China as the search and rescues teams recover bodies from the region of the disaster.

According to the Yunnan Provincial government, more than 2,400 people have been injured in the earthquake which happened on Sunday in the mountainous Yunnan farming region of Ludian County. It is the country’s deadliest in the last four years.

Due to heavy rains and landslides in the affected region, thousands of troops and volunteers are facing difficulty in carrying out their rescue mission to dig out possible survivors from the debris. Repeated aftershocks of 4.5 magnitude and higher have hit the region after the initial earthquake, making the rescue operation even more dangerous.

On Wednesday, rescue vehicles, ambulances, military jeeps, along with volunteers clogged the roads to the hardest-hit town of Longtou.

This region has always been prone to earthquakes. A magnitude- 7.7 earthquake had hit Yunnan in 1970 killing at least 15,000 people. In September 2012, a series of quakes killed 81 people. In May 2008, nearly 90,000 people were dead when a powerful earthquake hit the Sichuan region.

Read more at: http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/world/death-toll-in-chinas-yunnan-province-earthquake-hits-589/article6286191.ece

India important in international trade: Nick Clegg, UK Deputy PM

Photo Courtesy – timesofindia.indiatimes.com

London: UK will no longer go ahead with the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement without India.

The new government in India vetoed the Trade Facilitation Agreement which includes simplifying and standardising of rules to make the shipping of goods across countries smoother even though it had agreed to it at a ministerial conference in Bali last December.India asserted that more freedom to stockpile food grains should be allowed and the food distribution programme must be subsidized in exchange for signing the TFA.

This move of India has made members like United States and the European Union go ahead with the deal without including India. UK, on the other hand, supports India.

The UK Deputy PM, Nick Clegg, while giving his first exclusive interview to an Indian newspaper said that India’s leadership for the trade system “is immensely important.” He mentioned that in the international trade market, countries looked up to India. India’s and Asia’s leadership is extremely important given that they are the rising world powers.

He also said that they understood India’s stand on stockpiling food grains and subsidized food distribution programme as India had to keep their small time farmers in mind.

Clegg expressed his disappointment at the fall out of the deal and added that the TFA was a significant multilateral trade deal and it was in India’s interest too for the deal to go through.

Several other countries have said that talk of excluding India from the TFA was “naive and counterproductive”. New Zealand’s Minister of Overseas Trade, Tim Groser, recently said, “India is the second biggest country by population, a vital part of the world economy and will become even more important. The idea of excluding India is ridiculous.”

The TFA would add $1 trillion and 21 million jobs to the world economy.

According to the current WTO norms, food subsidies lie at 10% of the total value of the food grain production. However, it is being calculated at the prices which are over two decades old.

India proposed to change the base year to 1986-88 for calculating food subsidies. India is insisting on changing the base year to keep the factors like inflation and currency movements into account. If the WTO members agrees to the terms put forward by India, then it is ready to sign the deal as early as next month.

The TFA would have been the first global trade deal reached by the Geneva-based institution since it was founded almost two decades ago.

Read more at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/Trade-Facilitation-Agreement-World-Trade-Organization/articleshow/39756619.cms

Pope cautions youngsters against virtual existence

Pope Francis on Tuesday sought to discourage youngsters from spending too much of time on the internet. Addressing a group of over 50,000 German Altar Servers, the Holy Father suggested that the youth should engage in more ‘productive activities’. He also included smart phones and television, within the range of his discussion. The internet, he stressed was “a gift from god”, yet its overuse could lead to what he called “a network of wires, but of people”.

“Our life is made up of time, and time is a gift from god, so it is important that it be used in good and fruitful actions” he said.

Interestingly, the Pope, who’s nearing 78, has twitter handles spanning across several languages. This however, comes at a time when the Roman Catholic Church has walked an extra mile, on the social media space in its endeavor to reach out to greater number of youngsters.


To read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2014/08/06/pope-francis-to-young-people-get-off-the-internet-and-do-something-productive-for-gods-sake/

The Horror Lives On

Japan: Hiroshima marks the 69th anniversary of the horrifying nuclear bomb attacks on Wednesday.  Several peace ceremonies are to be conducted throughout the day in order to pray for the souls of the victims who lost their lives in an attack that still shakes up the citizen of Japan.

Mayor Kazumi Matsui invited US President Barack Obama along with other world leaders to visit the cities that were affected during the bombings that took place in 1945. In his speech, he exclaimed his belief that once the leaders of the world would visit the A-bombed cities, they would join hands with him to eradicate the menace of the nuclear weapons.

Exactly 69 years back, during the end of the Second World War, an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, killing an estimated 1, 40,000 people as an aftermath. After three days, Nagasaki too was bombed in a similar way, killing almost 70,000 people. It was the first and last time that a nuclear weapon was used during a war.

Though it has been a long time ever since, the horror in the minds of the survivors, their families and the citizen in general lives on, so much so that nuclear weapons are considered to be a form of evil till date.

To read more: http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/japan-marks-69th-anniversary-hiroshima-bombing-24858379



BCCI disappointed with ICC’s verdict on Anderson- Jadeja case

Photo Courtesy – www.firstpost.com

New Delhi: The Judicial Commissioner’s verdict to give a clean chit to James Anderson (England’s Fast Bowler) of the breach of conduct has deemed to have disheartened the Board of Control for Cricket (BCCI). This has lead to BCCI writing to cricket’s governing body to unveil their discontent over the verdict.

The first test at Trent Bridge last month had housed verbal dispute between Anderson and Ravindra Jadeja. Following a hearing on video conference on Friday, both the sportsmen were freed of any charge. Dave Richardson, the International Cricket Council Executive (ICC) can raise appeal against the verdict of the Judiciary.

“What we have done is we’ve written a letter to the ICC saying we are not happy with the verdict,” said Sanjay Patel, secretary of the BCCI. He added, “We don’t have a right to appeal in this case.”

Even though the ICC officials had not been accessible for any comment regarding the issue, if the sportsmen had been found guilty by the Judicial Commissioner, a four-test ban would have been imposed on Anderson and Jadeja.

The incident took place during the first test match at Trent Bridge, Old Trafford last month. The next match, fourth in the series, is scheduled for the coming Thursday with both the teams at a tied score.

Read more at: http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/08/05/india-england-jadeja-anderson-verdict-idINKBN0G50VD20140805

Fortune names 4 Indians in its top 20 extraordinary tech czar list

Representational Image – Reuters

New York: ‘Big Data All-Star’, Fortune magazine’s maiden endeavor has listed 20 extraordinary technology czars and young entrepreneurs who will “transform the way business operates” through data analyzing and processing big numbers. Four Indians have found a place for themselves in this prestigious list.

One of the four is Arun Murthy, co-founder of Hortonworks, a business computer software company. He has helped in developing a workload management system called YARN, which is the operating system for Hadoop. He has started off at Yahoo for which Hadoop, open-source storage and processing software, that powers much of the web’s big data, was at an early stage of development.

The next one to feature on the list is Surabhi Gupta. A Stanford University graduate, she is best known for revamping and improving travel rentals website Airbnb’s search engines and is currently working on condensing and creating summaries of Airbnb’s listings so that the users can get a vibe of different cities.

The brain behind American Express’s “MyOffers”, Swatee Singh is the also on the list. She is the Vice President of GMS IM Platforms and Big Data Capabilities at American Express.

The fourth Indian to earn a mention on the list is Vijay Subramanian. He is the Chief Analytics Officer at Rent the Runway. He has developed a model that estimates product longevity, missed demand and occasion use of the company’s inventory that helps in cost saving for a company that buys online designer dress and accessories in bulk so as to rent it out to the customers.

To read more: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-company/corporate-trends/4-indians-among-fortunes-list-of-20-extraordinary-tech-czars/articleshow/39677298.cms