Category: World News

NEW DELHI: President Pranab Unique Press  Mukherjee approved conferment of Padma Awards to 112 people this year. The list comprises 10 Padma Vibhushan, 19 Padma Bhushan, and 83 Padma Shri awardees. Here’s the complete list.


Padma Vibhushan Graet New
1. Ms. Yamini Krishnamurthi — Art-Classical dance — Delhi
2. Shri Rajinikanth — Art-Cinema — Tamil Nadu
3. Smt Girija Devi — Art-Classical Vocal — West Bengal
4. Shri Ramoji Rao — Literature & Education-Journalism — Andhra Pradesh
5. Dr. Viswanathan Shanta — Medicine-Oncology — Tamil Nadu
6. Shri Ravi Shankar — Others-Spiritualism — Karnataka
7. Shri Jagmohan — Public Affairs — Delhi
8. Dr. Vasudev Kalkunte Are — Science & Engineering — Karnataka
9. Shri Avinash Dixit(Foreigner) — Literature & Education — USA
10.Late Shri Dhiru Bhai Ambani (Posthumous) — Trade & Industry — Maharashtra
Padma Bhushan
11. Shri Anupam Kher — Art-Cinema — Maharashtra
12. Shri Udit Narayan Jha — Art-Playback Singing — Maharashtra
13. Shri Ram V Sutar — Art-Sculpture — Uttar Pradesh
14. Shri Heisnam Kanhailal — Art-Theatre — Manipur
15. Shri Vinod Rai — Civil Service — Kerala
16. Dr. Yarlagadda Lakshmi Prasad — Literature & Education — Andhra Pradesh
17. Prof NS Ramanuja Tatacharya — Literature & Education — Maharashtra
18. Dr. Barjinder Singh Hamdard — Literature & Education – Journalism — Punjab
19. Prof D Nageshwar Reddy — Medicine-Gastroenterology — Telangana
20. Swami Tejomayananda — Other-Spiritualism — Maharashtra
21. Shri Hafeez Contractor — Others-Architecture — Maharashtra
22. Shri Ravindra Chandra Bhargava — Public Affairs — Uttar Pradesh
23. Dr. Venkata Rama Rao — Alla Science & Engineering — Andhra Pradesh
24. Ms. Saina Nehwal — Sports-Badminton — Telangana
25. Ms. Sania Mirza — Sports-Tennis — Telangana
26. Ms. Indu Jain — Trade & Industry — Delhi
27. Late Swami Dayanand Sarawasati (Posthumous) — Others-Spiritualism — Uttarakhand
28. Shri Robert Blackwill (Foreigner) — Public Affairs — USA
29. Shri Pallonji Shapoorji Mistry (NRI/PIO) — Trade & Industry — Ireland
Padma Shri
30. Smt Pratibha Prahlad — Art- Classical Dance — Delhi
31. Shri Bhikhudan Gadhvi — Art- Folk Music — Gujarat
32. Shri Subhas Chandra Supakar — Art- Textile Designing — Uttar Pradesh
33. Shri Ajay Devgn — Art-Cinema — Maharashtra
34. Ms. Priyanka Chopra — Art-Cinema — Maharashtra
35. Pt Tulsidas Borkar — Art-Classical Music — Goa
36. Dr. Soma Ghosh — Art-Classical Vocal — Uttar Pradesh
37. Shri Nila Madhab Panda — Art-Film Direction and Production — Delhi
38. Shri SS Rajamouli — Art-Film Direction and Production — Karnataka
39. Shri Madhur Bhandarkar — Art-Film Direction and Production — Maharashtra
40. Prof M Venkatesh Kumar — Art-Folk Artist — Karnataka
41. Ms. Gulabi Sapera — Art-Folk Dance — Rajasthan
42. Smt Mamta Chandrakar — Art-Folk Music — Chhattisgarh
43. Ms. Malini Awasthi — Art-Folk Music — Uttar Pradesh
44. Shri Jai Prakash Lethal — Art-Miniature Painting — Delhi
45. Shri K Laxma Goud — Art-Painting — Telangana
46. Shri Bhalchandra Dattatray Monday — Art-Photography — Madhya Pradesh
47. Shri Naresh Chander Lal — Art-Theatre & Cinema — Andaman & Nicobar
48. Shri Dhirendra Nath Bezbaruah — Literature & Education — Assam
49. Shri Prahlad Chandra Tasa — Literature & Education — Assam
50. Dr. Ravindra Nagar — Literature & Education — Delhi
51. Shri Dahyabhai Shastri — Literature & Education — Gujarat
52. Dr. Santeshivara Bhyrappa — Literature & Education — Karnataka
53. Shri Haldar Nag — Literature & Education — Odisha
54. Shri Kameshwaram Brahma — Literature & Education -Journalism — Assam
55. Prof Pushpesh Pant — Literature & Education-Journalism — Delhi
56. Shri Jawaharlal Kaul — Literature & Education-Journalism — Jammu & Kashmir
57. Shri Ashok Malik — Literature & Education — Delhi
58. Dr. Mannam Gopi Chand — Medicine-Cardio Thoracic Surgery — Telangana
59. Prof Ravi Kant — Medicine-Surgery — Uttar Pradesh
60. Prof Ram Harsh Singh — Medicine- Ayurveda — Uttar Pradesh
61. Prof Shiv Narain Kureel — Medicine- Paediatric Surgery — Uttar Pradesh
62. Dr. Sabya Sachi Sarkar — Medicine -Radiology — Uttar Pradesh
63. Dr. Alla Gopala Krishna Gokhale — Medicine-Cardiac Surgery — Andhra Pradesh
64. Prof TK Lahiri — Medicine-Cardio Thoracic Surgery — Uttar Pradesh
65. Dr. Praveen Chandra — Medicine-Cardiology — Delhi
66. Prof (Dr) Daljeet Singh Gambhir — Medicine-Cardiology — Uttar Pradesh
67. Dr. Chandrasekar Shesadri Thoguluva — Medicine-Gastroenterology — Tamil Nadu
68. Dr (Mrs) Anil Kumari Malhotra — Medicine-Homeopathy — Delhi
69. Prof MV Padma Srivastava — Medicine-Neurology — Delhi
70. Dr. Sudhir V Shah — Medicine-Neurology — Gujarat
71. Dr. MM Joshi — Medicine-Ophthalmology — Karnataka
72. Prof (Dr) John Ebnezar — Medicine-Orthopaedic Surgery — Karnataka
73. Dr. Nayudamma Yarlagadda — Medicine-Paediatric Surgery — Andhra Pradesh
74. Shri Simon Orton — Other -Environment Conservation — Jharkhand
75. Shri Imtiaz Qureshi — Other-Culinary — Delhi
76. Shri Piyush Pandey — Others-Advertising & Communication — Maharashtra
77. Shri Subhash Palekar — Others-Farming — Maharashtra
78. Shri Ravinder Kumar Sinha — Others-Wildlife Conservation — Bihar
79. Dr. HR Nagendra — Others-Yoga — Karnataka
80. Shri MC Mehta — Public Affairs — Delhi
81. Shri MN Krishna Mani — Public Affairs — Delhi
82. Shri Ujjwal Nikam — Public Affairs — Maharashtra
83. Shri Tokheho Sema — Public Affairs — Nagaland
84. Dr. Satish Kumar — Science & Engineering — Delhi
85. Dr. Mylswamy Annadurai — Science & Engineering — Karnataka
86. Prof Dipankar Chatterji — Science & Engineering — Karnataka
87. Prof(Dr) Ganapati Dadasaheb Yadav — Science & Engineering — Maharashtra
88. Set (Prof) Veena Tandon — Science & Engineering — Meghalaya
89. Shri Onkar Nath Srivastava — Science and Engineering — Uttar Pradesh
90. Ms. Sunita Krishnan — Social Work — Andhra Pradesh
91. Shri Ajoy Kumar Dutta — Social Work — Assam
92. Shri M Pandit Dasa — Social Work — Karnataka
93. Shri PP Gopinathan Nair — Social Work — Kerala
94. St Madeleine Herman de Blic — Social Work — Puducherry
95. Shri Srinivasan Jamal Kandalai — Social work — Tamil Nadu
96. Shri Sudhakar Ole — Social Work — Maharashtra
97. Dr. TV Narayana — Social Work — Telangana
98. Shri Arunachalam Murugantham — Social Work — Tamil Nadu
99. Ms. Deepika Kumari — Sports-Archery — Jharkhand
100. S Shri Sushil Doshi — Sports-commentary — Madhya Pradesh
101. Shri Mahesh Sharma — Trade & Industry — Delhi
102. Shri Saurabh Srivastava — Trade & Industry — Delhi
103. Sh Dilip Sanghvi — Trade & Industry — Maharashtra
104. Dr. Keki Hormusji Gharda — Trade & Industry — Maharashtra
105. Late Shri Prakash Chand Surana (Posthumous) — Art -Classical Music — Rajasthan
106. Late Shri Saeed Jaffrey (NRI/PIO/Posthumous) — Art-Cinema — UK
107. Shri Michael Postel (Foreigner) — Art-Archaeology — France
108. Shri Salman Amin Sal Khan (NRI/PIO) — Literature & Education — the USA
109. Set Hui Lan Zhang (Foreigner) — Others-Yoga — China
110. Shri Predrag K Nikic (Foreigner) — Others-Yoga — Serbia
111. Dr. Sundar Aditya Menon (NRI/PIO) — Social Work — UAE
112. Shri Ajaypal Singh Banga (NRI/PIO) — Trade & Industry — US

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This summer, Verizon agreed to buy Yahoo, a year after snapping up AOL. Last month, AT&T signed a $85.4 billion deal to acquire the media giant Time Warner. And now, CenturyLink, the third largest telecom in the US, has agreed to buy Level 3 Communications, a company dedicated to running the backbone of the Internet.

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What this shows is that these old-school communications companies are under threat—from all sides. Companies like Amazon and Facebook and Netflix are challenging traditional television with their streaming Internet video services. Smartphone makers like Google and Apple are eating into the power once wielded by the country’s cellular services, with Google even offering its own mobile service. And some Internet companies, including Amazon and Google, are even pushing into home Internet services. So, the old-school companies are looking for ways of fighting back.

Mostly, these telecoms are moving into media. That’s been the trend since cable TV giant Comcast purchased NBC Universal back in 2011. As the power shifts out of the communications networks, telecoms are buying up the media that traveling across these networks: TV shows, entire TV channels, movie studies, web empires. But in acquiring Level 3, CenturyLink is doing something rather different.

CenturyLink is losing its consumer home Internet subscribers. Cord cutting threatens to cannibalize its pay TV customers. And 5G wireless is poised to lure away even more of its customers. So, the company is focusing on business services, where it already makes most of its money. Recently, it has made a move into cloud computing—trying to challenge the Googles and the Amazons in another area. And now, it’s up to Level 3, whose Internet-related services are aimed directly at businesses.

On one level, it makes a lot of sense. But while the $34 billion deal may help CenturyLink in the short term, the reality is that businesses don’t need a company like Level 3 as much as they once did—and that’s also because of Google and Amazon and Facebook. In so many ways, the deal shows how the telecom world is changing.

What the Hell is Level 3?
What exactly is Level 3? To understand that, you must first understand how the Internet works. In the 1990s, politicians and media described the Internet as an “Information Superhighway.” But really, the Internet is more like a highway system than a single highway

Imagine you want to send data from a computer connected to the Internet through Verizon in New York to a computer connected to the Internet through Comcast in San Francisco. The series of virtual roads connecting the two cities are what are known as “backbone” Internet services.
The difference between the Internet and the interstate highway system, however, is that telcos own these highways. Verizon, Comcast, CenturyLink, and other Internet access providers own many of the virtual highways that connect different cities together, but not all of them. Some of them are owned by companies like Level 3, which make much of their money connecting different Internet providers together. This business is called “transit.” And it’s slowly going away.

Bypass Roads
In a lengthy essay, Geoff Huston, the founder of Australia’s first Internet access provider, explains why. Instead of building or renting space in a single data center, more and more companies are opting to host their data with content delivery networks like Akamai and CloudFlare. These companies run servers in data centers spread across the world—data centers that connect directors to Internet access providers, bypassing transit providers like Level 3.

Some companies, like Facebook and Google, are going even further. They’re building their own data centers, buying up unused fiber-optic infrastructure, and funding the creation of new undersea cables—to connect these data centers together. Facebook and Google are then able to bypass traditional telcos almost completely: they only need to deal with the Internet provider who sells access to the end user. It’s as if Amazon had not only built a network of distribution centers to deliver goods around the country but had also bought-up abandoned highways—or perhaps railroad tracks—to deliver products from its warehouses to your town without ever touching the interstate highway system at all.

As Huston explains, this has led to transit service being less important and less lucrative as content companies turn to CDNs. Meanwhile, telcos, including both CenturyLink and Level3, are now providing their own CDN services, along with other business networking services, such as cloud hosting and fixed connections between business equipment such as ATMs and banks. They see where the wind the blowing. “What exactly is the residual need for long distance transit?” Huston ponders. “Do transit service providers even have a future?”

New Money
Even CDN providers like Akamai are now under threat from the Internet giants. Amazon offers its own CDN service, and according to a report from Datanyze, it’s used by more than half of the top 1 million sites on the web. All other CDN providers trail Amazon by a wide margin. And Google’s AMP and Facebook’s Instant Articles programs threaten to undercut CDNs as well. Publishers who use those services host content not on their own servers or CDNs, but on Google and Facebook’s CDNs, rendering telcos even less relevant.

Yes, CenturyLink and Level 3 are solid, profitable companies. They netted about $152 million and $143 million respectively last quarter. And fortunately for them, both offer more than just transit and Internet access services. But the merger is like two old money families marrying their fortunes together in an effort to stave off death at the hands of new money interests. Unless something changes, they’re on the wrong side of history.

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Politics this week-

The FBI waded into the American presidential election by rebooting its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server while secretary of state, four months after exonerating her. The bureau’s director, James Comey, faced fierce criticism for being vague about the new probe. The news was the latest “October surprise” to shake up a race between Mrs. Clinton and Donald Trump that has tightened in its final days. See blog.
Two police officers were shot dead while sitting in their cars in Des Moines, Iowa. Local authorities later arrested a 46-year-old man suspected of carrying out the “ambush-style” attacks.

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America’s longest sporting drought ended when the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. They defeated the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in Game Seven of the Major League Baseball finals, after enduring more than a century without winning a trophy.

Venezuela’s leftist government and the opposition began talks mediated by the Vatican. Tensions between the two sides increased after the government blocked a referendum to recall the president, Nicolás Maduro. The negotiations will cover restoring the rule of law, the schedule for elections, human rights, and the economic crisis. See article.
Police in El Salvador arrested a former president, Elías Antonio Saca, on suspicion of money laundering and embezzlement. Mr. Saca governed from 2004 until 2009 as a member of the conservative ARENA party. During his tenure officials put nearly $250m of public money into private accounts, prosecutors say.

Marcelo Crivella, a Pentecostal bishop, was elected mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s second-most-populous city. He has promised to continue providing public financing for the city’s gay-pride parade and samba schools. See article.

Trouble brewing
China’s legislature, the National People’s Congress (NPC), was reportedly preparing to intervene in a row in Hong Kong over whether two legislators who support greater autonomy for the territory should be allowed to take up their posts. The politicians used derogatory language about China when they were sworn in. A court in Hong Kong began hearing a case filed by the local government apparently aimed at blocking them, but the NPC wants to move faster. See article.
A gas explosion at a privately owned coal mine in the south-western region of Chongqing killed 33 workers who were trapped underground. Two miners survived the blast.
China allowed Philippine vessels to fish near Scarborough Shoal, a disputed tidal atoll. China’s navy had been chasing them away but seems to have halted after overtures from the Philippines’ new president, Rodrigo Duterte. See article.

Prosecutors detained Choi Soon-soil, a South Korean woman accused of exploiting her friendship with the president, Park Guen-Hye, to raise money for foundations she controlled and to meddle in government affairs. Ms. Park appointed a new prime minister reshuffled her cabinet and dismissed ten close aides in response to the scandal. See article.
Thai authorities announced that Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn will assume the throne on December 1st, after the death of his father, King Bhumibol, in October. The prince had initially demurred out of respect for the late king.
Seize and desist
Iraqi troops moved into an outlying district of Mosul, which Islamic State has held since 2014. But the battle for the city has been running for two weeks, and progress is slow. See article.
Michel Aoun, a Maronite Christian, and former warlord, became president of Lebanon, ending an impasse that lasted two-and-a-half years. See article.

Syrian rebels launched an offensive to try to break the siege of Aleppo. But an escalation of the bombing there is expected within days as a Russian aircraft-carrier nears the eastern Mediterranean.
South African prosecutors withdrew flimsy charges of fraud that had been brought against the finance minister, Pravin Gordhan. The politically motivated charges were part of a struggle between Mr. Gordhan and the president, Jacob Zuma. Separately, a report called for a judicial inquiry into corruption involving Mr. Zuma. See article.
Egypt said it will float its pound. The central bank announced a series of reforms designed to help secure a $12bn bail-out from the IMF. The currency had been trading well below the official rate on the black market.
The United Nations sacked the Kenyan head of a peacekeeping force in South Sudan after finding it had failed to respond to an attack on civilians by South Sudanese forces. Kenya, in turn, said it would withdraw its troops from the force.
The genuine article
The British High Court ruled that the government does not have the right to invoke Article 50, the legal mechanism for triggering Brexit, without the approval of Parliament. The pound rose following the news. The verdict is a setback for Theresa May’s government, which said it would appeal. See article.

Geert Wilders, leader of the Party for Freedom, a populist Dutch group which has been leading in the polls, failed to turn up for the first day of his trial for hate speech. Instead, Mr. Wilders took to Twitter to espouse more of the anti-Muslim views that had landed him in trouble.

Germany’s EU commissioner, Günther Oettinger, apologized after a video showed him mocking Chinese people and decrying gay marriage. Germany’s Social Democrats criticized him, but Chancellor Angela Merkel, the leader of Mr. Oettinger’s Christian Democrat party, stayed mom.
Politicians in Ukraine backtracked on a pay rise that would have doubled their earnings, following public outrage after details of their property holdings were published. Some 50,000 officials had been required to declare their assets, which include vintage wine, luxury watches, flashy cars and a church.
Iceland’s centre-right Independence Party came first in the country’s general election and was asked to form a coalition. The result was disappointing for the Pirate Party, which won just 14.5% of the vote despite polling at 40% earlier this year. See article.

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The Canadian armed forces have sent a crew to investigate reports of a mysterious “pinging” sound that seemed to be coming from the sea floor.

Hunters in a remote community in the Canadian Arctic have become concerned about a pinging or beeping sound they say they’ve been hearing in the Fury and Hecla Strait, a channel of water that’s 120km (75 miles) northwest of the Inuit hamlet Igloolik.

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Paul Quassa, a local politician, told CBC that the sound seems to be coming from the sea floor, and is scaring animals away from a popular hunting area of open water surrounded by ice that is usually abundant with sea mammals.

“And this time around, this summer, there were hardly any. And this became a suspicious thing,” he said.
Several reports were passed to the military, which sent a CP-140 Aurora patrol aircraft to investigate on Tuesday under the mandate of Operation Limpid, a domestic surveillance programme designed to “detect, deter, prevent, pre-empt and defeat threats aimed at Canada or Canadian interests”.

In a statement, Department of National Defence spokeswoman Ashley Lemire said: “The Canadian armed forces are aware of allegations of unusual sounds emanating from the seabed in the Fury and Hecla Strait in Nunavut. The air crew performed various multi-sensor searches in the area, including an acoustic search for 1.5 hours, without detecting any acoustic anomalies. The crew did not detect any surface or subsurface contacts.
The ‘Windsor Hum’: where is the noise plaguing a city of 210,000 coming from?
Read more
“The crew did observe two pods of whales and six walruses in the area of interest.

“At this time the Department of National Defence does not intend to do any further investigations.”
That hasn’t stopped people from theorizing about the source of the sounds, which have been variously attributed to the sonar surveys of local mining operations or to Greenpeace activists.
Sonar is used by mining companies to make detailed maps of the sea floor in their search for offshore oil and gas. The sonar is known to disturb marine mammals such as whales and dolphins. However, the Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation, which has conducted sonar surveys nearby, told CBC it has no equipment in the water at this time.

Others believe that Greenpeace is creating the sound on purpose to scare wildlife away from Inuit hunters – an allegation Greenpeace denies.
Mysterious sounds have a tendency to send people’s imaginations into overdrive. Earlier this year a high-pitched flute-like noise kept people in Portland, Oregon, awake. The steady whistling noise had also been heard by residents several decades previously.
The sound appears to come from an island surrounded by fences that’s home to a steel plant. The secrecy surrounding the plant has led to wild and unfounded speculation that the sound comes from an alien aircraft or from the construction of an underground tunnel by a billionaire.

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World stocks wallowed near a four-month low as U.S. election uncertainty knocked the dollar, and futures pointed to the longest losing streak for the S&P 500 since the 2008 financial crisis.
Investors were unsettled by media reports that some agents at the FBI had wanted to press ahead with an investigation of the Clinton Foundation, the latest twist in a long-running investigation into Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.
Investors generally view Clinton as a known quantity, but there is deep uncertainty about what a win for Republican Donald Trump — who is closing the gap in some polls — might mean for U.S. economic policy, free trade and geopolitics.
The volatility index, also known as markets’ fear gauge, rose for an eighth straight day for its longest streak in three years and is just one day from a record run.
The dollar slipped 0.4% to 102.83 yen, while the euro edged up 0.1% to $1.1098.

A weaker dollar weakness meant sterling was slightly firmer ahead of UK High Court ruling on whether the government or parliament has the right to trigger the Article 50 Brexit clause to leave the European Union. The Bank of England’s policy decision and inflation report were also ahead.
The dollar also added 0.4% on the Mexican peso , which acts as something of a proxy for investor angst over the risk of a Trump victory. Trump’s positions on Mexican migration and trade could severely disadvantage the United States’ southern neighbor if he wins.
Sovereign bonds and the Swiss franc were also in favor, and even the prospect of a December rate increase from the Federal Reserve could not steady the dollar.
“We are not quite at the point where we need to think about canned food and underground wood bunkers, but we are being schooled in understanding the dynamics politics plays on financial markets,” said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at broker IG Research.
“Despite all the thoughts about central bank policy changes, improving inflation trends and ever-changing economics, politics dominates markets above all else.”
Futures pointed to a slightly lower open for the S&P 500, which has already chalked up its longest losing streak in five years and is just one more session away from its worst run since 2008.
Asian shares lost some ground overnight while better-than-expected earnings results lifted European stock markets slightly. The broader picture though was weak, with the MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 46 countries, languishing close to a four-month month.

Tokyo was on holiday, which was likely just as well as the Nikkei would have been hurt by the rising yen.

TIGHTENING CYCLE

While some polls put Trump ahead on Tuesday, an average of polls compiled by the RealClearPolitics website showed Clinton retaining a slight lead. A Reuters/Ipsos daily tracking poll released late on Wednesday showed Clinton ahead by 6 percentage points among likely voters.
Politics also overshadowed the Fed’s November policy meeting where it kept rates steady as expected and opened the door a little wider to a rate rise next month.

“Barring a shock to the global economy and/or upheaval in financial markets, we continue to anticipate a 25 basis point rate hike at the 14 December meeting,” said Peter Dragicevich, a senior currency and rates strategist at CBA.
“We, and the FOMC, are looking for the tightening cycle to continue to be slow and limited,” he added, predicting just two more rate increases over 2017.
Oil rose on Thursday, lifting prices away from five-week lows, as an attack on a Nigerian oil pipeline concerns about supply disruptions.
Helped also by the weaker dollar, U.S. crude bounced 16 cents to $45.50 a barrel, while Brent added 27 cents to $47.15.
In emerging markets, there were major moves as Egypt floated its currency, the Egyptian pound in the move that resulted in a near 33% devaluation.
Egyptian stocks and bonds both surged with Cairo’s blue chip equity index up 8.3% in the opening minutes and its main dollar-denominated government bonds rallied as much as 2.2 cents in the dollar.
“The dollar bonds are understandably up as they won’t be frittering reserves anymore,” said a head of EM sovereign debt at Aberdeen Asset Management Edwin Gutierrez.
“But this was part of the IMF program. It is classic Washington consensus 101, and they are doing all the right things.”

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JAKARTA, Indonesia—The biggest street protest in years shook this sprawling capital on Friday, in a stark display of the more conservative, militant strain of Islam taking hold in the world’s largest Muslim country.
Police estimated that 100,000 people turned out for a rally called by hard-line Muslim groups against the capital’s Christian governor, whom they accuse of having committed blasphemy.
Turnout was lower than some organizers had predicted, after the nation’s largest Muslim organizations this week discouraged their members from attending.

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President Joko Widodo had met with other political leaders amid calls for calm, but critics say he has been too slow since taking office in 2014 to respond to deepening tensions for fear of being labeled anti-Muslim.
In a recent interview, Mr. Widodo, who is himself a Muslim, said religious and political leaders had a responsibility to “cool temperatures down,” and he vowed to protect minorities. “My government won’t tolerate any discrimination,” “We are one of the most tolerant countries in the world,’’ Mr. Widodo told The Wall Street Journal.

The Jakarta governor’s bid to win re-election in February is building into a test.
“Religiosity is rising, especially among the middle class,” said Yon Mahmudi, an Islamic politics expert at the University of Indonesia. “A sense of identification is increasing.’’
Protesters were taking aim at Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known as Ahok, who is the most prominent politician among the country’s often-persecuted ethnic Chinese minority—and one of the country’s few Christian lawmakers. He was elected deputy governor in 2012 and elevated to the top job in 2014 after his boss, Mr. Widodo, was elected president.
Some hard-liners had tried to block his ascent then, saying Muslims shouldn’t be governed by a “kafir,” or nonbeliever.
The blunt-spoken Mr. Purnama, 50 years old, also has irritated many with a brash, get-things-done manner that conflicts with Javanese traditions of polite compromise.

Mr. Purnama, now running for re-election with high approval ratings, angered the groups again by citing a verse of the Quran in a public address in late September. He has apologized and said he would cooperate with a police investigation but has since been the target of protests.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla met a group of protest leaders and said afterward that police would pursue a blasphemy case against Mr. Purnama. Local media reported that Mr. Purnama said he would meet with investigators Monday. The maximum penalty for blasphemy is five years’ imprisonment.
Scattered outbreaks of violence were reported as small groups dispersed into neighborhoods, including in North Jakarta, where they looted a minimart. About a hundred police officers guarded the complex where Mr. Purnama resides.
Shortly after midnight, Mr. Widodo appeared on television, saying that legal action concerning Mr. Purnama would be swift and transparent, and asked protesters to return home. He also said he deplored the violence that took place after the rally and that “political actors” had taken advantage of the situation. He didn’t elaborate.
Mr. Widodo on Saturday postponed a planned three-day visit to Australia that was to begin Sunday, according to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s office. Mr. Turnbull said in a statement that Mr. Widodo called him to postpone the visit and that the security situation in Jakarta required the president’s personal attention.
Nearly 90% of Indonesia’s 250 million people are Muslim. The Southeast Asian nation—some 18,000 islands straddling the Pacific and Indian oceans—has a long tradition of moderate Islam in a culture influenced earlier by Hinduism and Buddhism Folk Fests.

But the tenor has changed in recent years. Head scarves for women, once rare, are now widely worn and Islamic schools are expanding.
An effort to outlaw cohabitation and sex between unmarried people fizzled in 2013 but has returned this year, with proponents asking the Supreme Court for a constitutional prohibition.
Religious hard-liners staged antigay rallies early this year, and the government threatened to block websites it says promote lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender lifestyles. Netflix ran into trouble with Indonesia’s state-owned telecom provider in part because of complaints about some content.
A movement to ban alcohol is gaining steam and sales have been banned from convenience stores. Travel to Mecca for the minor pilgrimage of umrah, once a relatively uncommon undertaking for middle-class Indonesians, is newly popular.
Security experts say the rising conservatism paves the way for potential violence, pointing to some religious hard-liners who have rebranded themselves as cells of Islamic State.

In January, Indonesia suffered its first Islamic State-linked attack, with militants receiving funding from the terrorist group via a Syria-based Indonesian who once studied with a hard-line group in central Java. There have been sporadic attacks since then, including one last month where an Islamic State sympathizer stabbed three police officers.
“What we’ve seen in the last 18 months to two years is increasing crossover from organizations that started out nonviolent-but-hard-line to organizations which are now committed to using violence,” said Sidney Jones, director of the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict.
Still, Islamic parties have done poorly in elections since the downfall of longtime dictator Suharto in 1998. Indonesia has been one of the most stable democracies in the region after overcoming a wave of terrorism and sectarianism in the early 2000s.

Many of those at Friday’s protest had ridden for hours on trains and buses from other parts of Java island. They gathered at the Istiqlal mosque, the country’s largest, before marching toward the presidential palace.
A 27-year-old from Pemalang in central Java said that, while Mr. Purnama isn’t his governor, he was seeking justice for Islam. Asked about comments from extremists about killing Mr. Purnama, he said: “It is an expression of how upset we are.”
Security forces took up positions behind barbed wire around nearby government offices. Authorities said around 20,000 police and military personnel were on duty. There were no immediate reports of violence.
Streets in the famously congested city of 10 million people were relatively devoid of traffic as many workers stayed home. Many shops and offices closed.

 

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Chelsea ManningHer legal team declined to give details but said prison conditions contributed to her fragile mental state.
Manning was sentenced to 14 days in solitary confinement in September for charges relating to her attempt to kill herself in July.
The transgender army private, born Bradley Manning, is serving a 35-year sentence for espionage.
She was found guilty in September by prison officials in Leavenworth, Kansas, of “conduct which threatens” after her initial suicide attempt.
She was also convicted of having “prohibited property” – the book “Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy” by Gabriella Coleman.
In July, the former intelligence analyst attempted to take her own life after what lawyers said was the Army’s refusal to provide appropriate health care.
She later went on hunger strike which ended after the military agreed to provide her with gender dysphoria treatment For Tricks.
Manning sentenced to solitary confinement
The secret life of a transgender airman
Profile: Private First Class Manning
Her lawyer Chase Strangio described her treatment in a letter, quoted by the AP news agency, as “demoralizing”, adding that it was an “assault on her health and humanity”.
“She has repeatedly been punished for trying to survive and now is being repeatedly punished for trying to die,” wrote Mr. Strangio.
When she was removed from solitary confinement in October she tweeted that she was “OK” and “trying to get back in the groove of things”.
Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2013, after being found guilty of espionage for her role in leaking diplomatic cables and battlefield reports to Wikileaks, the anti-secrecy group.
The leak of more than 700,000 documents and videos was one of the largest breaches of classified material in American history.

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Protesters raise their fists during a demonstration in support to the Turkish daily newspaper Cumhuriyet.Turkish authorities ordered the formal arrest of nine staff members of a leading opposition newspaper and detained more pro-Kurdish officials, widening an anti-terror probe that has drawn condemnation from the west.

The arrests, a day after the co-leaders of the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic party (HDP) were jailed pending trial, are likely to spark more concern among Turkey’s allies about President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s intolerance of dissent.

More than 110,000 officials, including judges, teachers, police and civil servants, have been detained or suspended following a failed coup in July. Erdoğan’s critics say he is using the coup as a pretext to crush the opposition. Ankara says the crackdown is necessary to root out terrorists.
Authorities ordered the formal arrest of nine executives and journalists from the secularist Cumhuriyet newspaper, including the editor-in-chief, Murat Sabuncu, and senior staff, broadcaster NTV, and other media reported. They had been detained since Monday. In addition, nine HDP officials, including some provincial and district heads, were detained in the south-eastern province of Adana, a party official said.

The HDP, which is Turkey’s third largest party, made history last year by becoming the first Kurdish-rooted party to win the 10% of the vote required to enter parliament Frett Board.

Erdoğan and the ruling AK party accuse the HDP of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK), which for three decades has carried out a violent insurgency in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast. The HDP denies direct links and says it is working for a peaceful resolution of the Kurdish conflict.

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On Friday, the co-leaders of the HDP, Selahattin Demirtaş, and Feigen Yüksekdağ were jailed pending trial after being held in overnight raids. Ten other HDP lawmakers were also detained. Some were later released.

The arrests heightened concern among western allies about the political direction of Turkey, a Nato member and a buffer between Europe and the conflicts raging in Syria and Iraq.

The European Union foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said she was “extremely worried” by the arrests, and raised her concerns in telephone calls to Turkey’s foreign and EU affairs ministers late on Friday. The United States expressed “deep concern”.

News of the arrests also shook financial markets on Friday, with the lira currency falling to a record low. Hours after the detentions on Friday, a car bomb killed 10 people and wounded more than 100 near a police station in the south-eastern city of Diyarbakir. Islamic State claimed responsibility.

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Pope Francis prays in front of quake ruins in AmatriceAn Italian priest has angered the Vatican after claiming the earthquakes that have shaken the country killing hundreds and leaving thousands homeless were “divine punishment” for gay civil unions.

Fr Giovanni Cavalcoli, a theologian known for his hardline views, made the comments on 30 October, the day central Italy was struck by a 6.6-magnitude quake – the most powerful to hit the country in 36 years.
Italy earthquake: residents fear historic towns will never look the same
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It was the third major quake in the region in just over two months.

Cavalcoli told Radio Maria that the seismic shocks were “divine punishment” for “the offense to the family and the dignity of marriage, in particular through civil unions”.

Italy is one of the last western European countries to legally recognize same-sex relationships, having introduced legislation last month to allow gay civil unions Genius Zone.

The radio station distanced itself from Cavalli’s views and the Vatican has issued a stinging rebuke, saying the idea of a vengeful God was “a pagan vision” dating from “the pre-Christian era”.

Archbishop Angelo Becciu, number two in the Vatican’s powerful secretariat of state, said Cavalli’s comments were “offensive to believers and disgraceful for non-believers”.

Becciu asked for forgiveness from quake victims and reminded them they had the “solidarity and support” of Pope Francis.

However, Cavalcoli refused to back down, insisting to another radio station that earthquakes were caused by “the sins of man” and telling the Vatican to “read their catechism”.

It is not the first time comments by members of the Italian clergy have embarrassed the Catholic church.

Last month a priest was suspended from his parish in Trento after apparently defending pedophilia during a live TV interview, arguing that “children often seek affection”. Fr Gino Flaim of the San Giuseppe and Pio X parish claimed he “understands pedophilia” but added, “I’m not sure about homosexuality.”

When asked to explain his comments he told the La7 channel: “Paedophilia is a sin, and like all sins have to be accepted also.” He went on to describe homosexuality as “a disease”.

Following his suspension the priest said his words “do not represent the positions of Trento archdiocese and the general sentiment of the parish”.

In 2012 another Italian priest sparked outrage by delivering a Christmas message that claimed women were to blame for men’s violence towards them because they wore “filthy clothes” and served “cold suppers”.

Fr Piero Corsi put a leaflet on his church’s noticeboard in San Terenzio, northwest Italy, asserting that 118 women killed by men in Italy that year only had themselves to blame.

“Is it possible that men have turned crazy all of a sudden? We don’t believe so. The point is that more and more women provoke, fall into arrogance, believe [themselves] to be independent and exacerbate tensions,” the leaflet read.

“Children are left outside alone, homes are dirty, meals are served cold … clothing is filthy. They [women] trigger the worst instincts leading to violence and sexual abuse. They should do a self-examination and think: did we ask for it?”

The priest received a torrent of abuse after a scan of the leaflet was posted online, and his Facebook account was closed.

Senior religious figures distanced the church from Corsi’s comments and he was forced to resign.

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The Russian navy’s frigate, the Admiral Grigorovich, on its way to the Mediterranean.A Russian frigate armed with cruise missiles has passed through the Bosphorus on its way to the eastern Mediterranean in a potentially ominous development for the embattled Syrian city of Aleppo.

The Admiral Grigorovich, part of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, arrived off the Syrian coast on Friday as the latest pause in the Russian bombardment of eastern Aleppo came to an end, adding to an emphatic Russian show of naval force in the Mediterranean.

Unlike the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier and Peter the Great nuclear-powered battle cruiser, whose arrival in the region has drawn considerable publicity, the newly commissioned Grigorovich has a fearsome ground attack capability in the form of Kalibo land-attack cruise missiles.

Three Russian submarines from Russia’s northern fleet capable of firing Kalibr missiles are also reported to have arrived in the Mediterranean.

Russia has used Calibre missiles, equivalent to US Tomahawk missiles, against Syrian targets a handful of times over the past year. The concentration of forces in the eastern Mediterranean in support of the Syrian regime’s ambitions to retake Aleppo from rebel forces suggest they may be used again in the coming few days or hours.

Earlier this week, Vladimir Putin warned Syrian rebels and civilians trapped in eastern Aleppo to leave the city by Friday night, when a temporary moratorium on air strikes was set to expire.

But opposition groups told the Guardian that promised safe passages out of besieged areas did not exist. As the deadline drew near, opposition groups pushed on with an assault on loyalist west Aleppo, while residents seemed resigned to a resumption in airstrikes.
“Nothing can be done. Nobody can stop the planes,” Bears Mishal, an official with the White Helmets volunteer rescue service, told Reuters Icas Network.

The Kuznetsov battle group paused in its approach towards Syria off the east coast of Crete on Thursday, to carry out aviation exercises. The Russian ministry of defense footage showed warplanes taking off and landing on its deck. The Kuznetsov is carrying about 10 Sukhoi-33 and four Mig-29 fighter aircraft, as well as up to two dozen helicopters. Although the Su-33’s have recently been adapted to drop bombs more accurately, the plane has never been used for ground attack. Only the Mig-29 is designed for that purpose.

If the planes are used to bomb targets in Syria, it would mark the first time Russia has used its only aircraft carrier in combat. That lack of experience, however, may limit its usefulness.

“There are very few carrier-trained pilots. In fact, there are more planes than pilots, and most of the planes on board are not made for the ground attack. For naval aviation, this is largely a training run,” Michael Kofman, a Russian specialist at the Centre for Naval Analyses, a federally funded research institute.

“They haven’t done anything done anything like this in a long time, and its getting heavily covered by the local and international media,” said Peter Zwack, a retired US brigadier general, and former military attache to Moscow, now at the National Defence University. “They are arriving in the eastern Mediterranean right before our election. It’s posturing and secondarily adding capability in Syria.”

The visit of its flagship to the Mediterranean is also a morale-boosting demonstration of military capacity for the Russian navy, which has not played a significant role in the Ukraine or Syrian conflicts, but which is seen by Vladimir Putin as vital to Russian self-image as a global power.

“Russia’s naval presence in the Mediterranean is as much about military posture and ability to project power beyond its region as much as the Syria campaign in general. Moscow sees it as important attributes of a ‘great power’,” said Maxim Suchkov, an expert on the Russian Foreign Affairs Council and an editor at Al-Monitor covering Russian relations with the Middle East.

The importance of image to this naval expedition is illustrated by the fact that Russian sailors have spent several days during its Mediterranean journey painting its deck bright blue, presumably so it looks better in aerial photographs.

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