asiabarta

Jul 032020
 

A top official in Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has warned the island’s 23 million residents to think carefully before traveling to Hong Kong or China in the wake of Hong Kong’s draconian national security law, which targets acts or speech seen as subversive by China anywhere in the world, as the U.S. upgrades its military commitment to the island’s defense.

DPP deputy leader Lin Fei-fan, himself a former leader of the 2014 student-led Sunflower movement that occupied Taiwan’s parliament in protest at a trade deal with China, said the law doesn’t just make life riskier for Hongkongers.

“I hope Taiwanese people traveling to Hong Kong will be mindful of their safety, because this is a law that affects not only Hong Kongers, but people in Taiwan and in countries around the world,” Lin told a party meeting.

The national security law, which took effect in Hong Kong on June 30, criminalizes speech and actions deemed subversive or secessionist, as well as actions, speech and help for people “colluding with foreign countries” or planning and committing acts of “terror.”

Its definitions are broad and are already being used to target people carrying protest banners, as well as actions that may be disruptive or destructive in nature, but which might be regarded as offenses against property or public order in other non-authoritarian jurisdictions.

There are provisions to ensure that the “wrong” opinions are no longer heard in the city’s education system, nor in its once freewheeling media.

The law applies to anyone in the world, and to acts and speech that take place anywhere in the world, if they are deemed injurious to China or Hong Kong’s status as part of China.

Critics of China at ‘high risk’

There are fears it could be used to prosecute anyone who has spoken in support of Taiwan independence, which is a mainstream political opinion on the democratic island, which has never been ruled by the Chinese Communist Party, nor formed part of the 70-year-old People’s Republic of China.

Lin’s warning echoed earlier comments by Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) spokesman Chiu Chui-cheng on Wednesday: “If our people have been critical of the Chinese Communist Party, or have shown support for the anti-extradition movement [in Hong Kong], then they are at high risk.”

“We recommend that people avoid travel to Hong Kong, Macau or mainland China unless absolutely necessary,” Chiu said.

As thousands of people took to the streets of Hong Kong in defiance of a protest ban on Wednesday, Taiwan said its Taiwan-Hong Kong Services and Exchanges Office was now open for business to help Hongkongers fleeing the city to study, work, invest or take up residence in Taiwan.

Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen said she expected the law to “fundamentally affect” the rule of law and human rights in Hong Kong, and said her party would continue to assist Hongkongers.

Taiwan announced on Friday it would set up a representative office in the U.S. territory Guam, to reflect a closer alliance with the U.S. in the face of growing Chinese aggression in and around its territory.

The island’s ministry of foreign affairs said it had taken the decision to reflect the growing partnership between Taiwan and the U.S. and the strategic importance of the Pacific region to Taiwan. It had earlier been shut down due to budget cuts.

“Re-establishing TECO in Guam will facilitate economic and trade cooperation and exchanges between Taiwan and the greater Western Pacific region, deepen Taiwan’s relations with its Pacific allies, and increase multilateral exchanges,” the ministry said in a press release.

Taiwan Defense Act

The announcement came after U.S. Representative Mike Gallagher introduced the House version of the Taiwan Defense Act (TDA) on Wednesday, to ensure the U.S. continues to meet its obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) in the face of the Chinese Communist Party’s aggressive military build-up, according to an official news release.

The TRA was passed in 1979 after the U.S. cut ties with the 1911 Republic of China on Taiwan to build ties with China, which insists that its diplomatic partners not recognize Taipei.

The law commits Washington to providing sufficient defense weapons and services to Taiwan to enable it to defend itself.

“[On June 30], we saw the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) end one country, two systems. No longer can anyone harbor the illusion that the CCP would unify peacefully with Taiwan,” Gallagher said in a statement, in a reference to the national security law for Hong Kong.

“Taiwan’s liberty is a vital national security interest of the United States, and the Taiwan Defense Act helps ensure our military has the capabilities it needs to block CCP aggression,” Gallagher said.

The bill is an attempt to prevent Beijing from annexing Taiwan before the U.S. can mount a military response. Chinese President Xi Jinping has refused to rule out such a course of action, and says “unification” with Taiwan is an inevitability.

Gallagher’s introduction of the bill came as China launched a five-day naval exercise near the contested Paracel Islands in the South China Sea to test its ability to seize islands.

Chinese military aircraft and ships have also passed close to Taiwan’s airspace and waters on numerous occasions since Tsai took office in 2016.

Reported by Chung Kuang-cheng for RFA’s Cantonese Service, and by Hwang Chun-mei for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

(function(d, s, id) {
var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];
if (d.getElementById(id)) return;
js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;
js.src = “https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.0”;
fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);
}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));

Credit: Radio Free Asia

Jul 032020
 

Ms Khan was born in that room, the first of six children. She recalled dancing with shadows there as a toddler, fascinated even then by what would become her calling. To supplement the family’s income, her father managed to get her work in Mumbai’s booming film industry as a child actress at the age of 3, under the name Saroj.

She had small roles in a number of films before becoming a background dancer at the age of 10, appearing in the classic “Howrah Bridge,” starring the actress Madhubala.

Soon afterward, Ms. Khan’s father died suddenly. In a 2012 documentary, “The Saroj Khan Story,” Ms Khan described how her mother struggled to feed her and her siblings, and how they often went to bed hungry.

On the eve of the Diwali holiday, Ms. Khan worked up the courage to ask the matinee star Shashi Kapoor for help. “I had just finished one song with him, I was the group dancer,” she said. “I went to him and told him, tomorrow is Diwali and I have nothing at home. I will get paid only after a week. He said, ‘I have 200 rupees right now, please take it.’ I’ll never forget it, that money helped me so much.”

Ms. Khan never formally trained as a dancer. Most classical dancers spend years studying under a teacher before they ever perform in public, but with a family to help support, that was not an option for Ms. Khan.

While still a young girl, she became an assistant to the choreographer B. Sohanlal, working with him on some of the biggest films of the time. He taught her the basics of kathak, a classical Indian dance.

“When he started teaching me, I realized that I can’t keep a posture, I don’t know how to do this,” she recalled in the documentary. “He made me work very hard, I had to remain in the same posture for hours at a time, but he turned me into a good dancer.”

Source link

Jul 032020
 

Ashden announced a total of 11 winners from the UK and developing countries in a video celebration featuring films of the organisations on Thursday.

SOLshare, set up in 2014, helps rural Bangladeshi owners of home solar power systems trade their surplus electricity with their neighbours.

Ashden chose it in Energy Access category from over 200 applicants for their work creating resilience, green growth, and fairer societies.

The start-up aims to stem the waste of more than a billion dollars in energy each year when home battery storage systems connected to solar panels reach capacity and excess solar power generated goes unused, its officials said.

“Less energy is wasted, and more people are connected,” the Ashden Jury said of SOLshare in a statement. The British charity works to scale up climate-smart energy solutions.

Dubbed as the AirBnB of the energy off-grid space, SOLshare interconnects solar home systems, monetising excess solar energy in real time with mobile money and empowering rural communities to earn a direct income from the sun by turning passive consumers into active “prosumers”.

“We believe that our smart peer to peer grids can be the future for energy utilities globally,” the company said in a statement.

Bangladesh is one of the world’s leaders in solar home systems for off-grid communities, with more than 5 million of the systems now in place.

“We have created a device that can share the surplus energy and help people earn money for it,” said Salma Islam, a project manager at SOLshare, based in Dhaka.

Using an electronic unit installed alongside their solar system, owners can transfer excess energy into a local power “microgrid” created with other SOLshare users, allowing those who need more power to buy it and cutting waste.

“If someone puts the device on automode it will automatically start selling energy once its (battery is) full,” Islam said.

Homes that can’t afford to buy solar panels also can buy electric power through the system.

 

SOLshare is only the fourth Bangladeshi company to receive this award ever. Grameen Shakti was the last Bangladeshi organisation to win the award 12 years ago. It is now a strategic partner of SOLshare.

SOLshare is providing an income to so many local entrepreneurs and proving that decentralised networks can be the future, Ashden CEO Harriet Lamb said, describing the Bangladeshi firm as a “true pioneer”.

SOLshare has started providing an energy subsidy across all its SOL grids to ensure villagers have the means to spend on basic necessities such as food and hygiene, as well as it is in the process of providing healthcare packages across all its smart micro grids across the country to ensure basic medical provisions are available.

The company is now eyeing productive energy use appliances for ready-made garment workers in remote communities who have lost jobs in Dhaka and had to go back to their villages for a livelihood, with efforts to develop platforms for stable electricity and internet access in remote villages to facilitate access to online classes.

“One important insight we had at SOLshare is that access to electricity is critical for a remote village, but it is the flexibility and profitability of energy usage that provides the key ingredient for innovation and sustainable development in a wider sense” SOLshare’s Co-Founder and CEO Sebastian Groh said.

Bangladesh’s government, which aims to boost its use of renewable energy to 10% of electrical power demand by next year, said it saw SOLshare’s device as a useful part of the push.

“We welcome this,” said Mohammad Alauddin, chairman of Bangladesh’s Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority, lauding the company’s grassroots focus.

He said the country is exploring a range of ways to improve access to solar energy, from adding more rooftop panels to installing some solar panels on floats on water bodies.

Bangladesh, however, also plans to build new coal-based power plants over the next two decades, which are likely to dramatically boost its dependence on highly polluting coal, according to environment groups.

The country’s main source of energy is natural gas but reserves are dwindling, according to its government.

CHEAP SOLAR

SOLshare officials said they have set up 27 “microgrids” in communities that have installed their devices across Bangladesh. A majority of their roughly 3,000 customers – most of them farmers – earn less than $5 a day, they said.

Previously, many users who couldn’t afford a basic solar home system relied on polluting and expensive fuels like kerosene or on diesel generators, the company said.

SOLshare has helped cut use of such fuels, while expanding access to electricity for those who lack it, according to Ashden.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced thousands of Bangladeshis to return to their villages from cities, causing a spike in electricity use in some of SOLshare’s microgrids, company representatives said.

To help ease the burden on hard-hit families, the company decided to temporarily remove the small surcharge normally levied on sellers of power, Islam said.

With some charitable funding the company also has supplied medical packages to rural communities and plans to deliver sewing machines to garment workers who lost their city jobs, she said.

The company is also in talks with the United Nation’s refugee agency to create similar microgrids in the world’s largest refugee settlement in Cox’s Bazar, home to more than 800,000 ethnic Rohingya refugees who fled persecution in Myanmar.

SOLshare officials said they hope to scale up their business to allow at least 100,000 Bangladeshis to share solar power over the next five years.

The aim is to help people “live by using what is already there” and to harness “existing and underutilised resources”, said Groh.

One of those who has benefitted from the technology is Bimal Krishna Das, 40. He said his pharmacy business in Barishal had taken a hit from the coronavirus pandemic.

By selling electricity, he said, he was able to raise extra funds he desperately needed.

“It’s such a relief to have some extra money in your pocket during this crisis,” he said.

 

[With inputs from Reuters]

Source link

Jul 032020
 

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday signed the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act, which critics have denounced as likely to set the stage for abuses including torture and crackdowns on peaceful dissent.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque justified the move, saying it was in line with the administration’s goal of ridding the country of terrorism.

“The signing of the aforesaid law demonstrates our serious commitment to stamp out terrorism, which has long plagued the country and has caused unimaginable grief and horror to many of our people,” Roque said in a statement.

The new law, which repeals the Human Security Act of 2007, allows the government to arrest suspected terrorists without warrant and detain them without charges for up to 24 days.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said these provisions would “permit warrantless arrests and weeks of incommunicado detention, which facilitates torture and mistreatment.”

Local and international human rights groups also predicted that the new law would be used to squelch free speech.

“The Anti-Terrorism Law will give a green light to the systematic targeting of political critics and opponents, as well as ordinary Filipinos who dare to speak out,” warned Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of HRW.

“Foreign governments should publicly denounce this development, which amounts to a stealth declaration of martial law,” he added.

Philippine-based rights group Karapatan said the new law would have far-reaching implications on expression of dissent and would affect the work of human rights defenders. It vowed to question the law in the Supreme Court.

“The fight is far from over. We will not let this fascist regime cower us into silence and fear. We cannot let them take away our hard-won rights and freedoms,” it said.

A ‘blurring of distinctions’

On Tuesday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet urged Duterte to refrain from signing the law.

“The recent passage of the new Anti-Terrorism Act heightens our concerns about the blurring of important distinctions between criticism, criminality and terrorism,” she said, adding that the law could have a chilling effect on human rights and humanitarian work, hindering support to vulnerable communities.

“I urge the President to refrain from signing the law, and to initiate a broad-based consultation process to draft legislation that can effectively prevent and counter violent extremism – but which contains safeguards to prevent its misuse against people engaged in peaceful criticism and advocacy,” she said.

The law was signed days after four alleged militants with links to the Islamic State perished in a raid by joint police and military personnel in the Manila suburb of Parañaque City. The militants were believed to be working with an IS branch led by Mundi Sawadjaan, a relative of IS-Philippine head Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan who is believed to be plotting further attacks.

Sawadjaan masterminded last year’s bombing of a Catholic church in southern Jolo island that left 23 dead, including two Indonesian suicide bombers.

It also came three years after IS militants from Southeast Asia and the Middle East took over the city of Marawi in the south. Five months of heavy fighting followed, leaving an estimated 1,200 government forces, militants and civilians dead in what is the largest outbreak of violence in the country in recent years. The leader of the IS at the time, Isnilon Hapilon, a commander of the militant Abu Sayyaf group, was slain. He was replaced by Sawadjaan.

In early June, the Philippine military sought to allay public fears that government security forces could use changes to the country’s anti-terrorism law to crack down on dissent.

The changes were meant only to boost the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in its campaign against terrorism, military spokesman Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said then.

“The new proposed legislation gives more teeth to the existing law and eliminates some provisions that tend to curtail rather than aid security forces to defeat terrorism,” Arevalo said.

“The bill passes through the crucible of intense deliberations to ensure that it will not trample upon people’s rights, but rather defend their rights to life, liberty and property as well as the freedom from fear which the AFP seeks to uphold,” he said.

The act’s provisions include a measure that would fine any government security unit 500,000 pesos (close to U.S. $10,000) for each day it keeps a terror suspect in custody, but who is later found not guilty of links to terrorism, he said. That should make authorities wary of carrying out arrests, Arevalo said.

While it may not end terrorism immediately, the proposed law would it easier for the government to penalize acts that contribute to deadly attacks, the military spokesman said.

(function(d, s, id) {
var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];
if (d.getElementById(id)) return;
js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;
js.src = “https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.0”;
fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);
}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));

Credit: Benar News

Jul 032020
 

At least 160 jade miners died in a mudslide due to heavy rains in northern Myanmar in Hpakant, Kachin state on Thursday.

The Myanmar Fire Services Department involved in the rescue operation wrote on its Facebook page that the miners had been smothered by a wave of mud.

The rainy season lasts for four months in Kachin state, and landslides are very common during this time period.

“We can say at least 100 dead bodies were found by 2pm today,” Shwe Thein, regional chairman of the ruling National League for Democracy Party (NLD), told DW. “This kind of landslide happens at least 10 times a year in the Hpakant area alone. This is also happening in other areas too. Many people die.”

In April 2019, 50 freelance miners were killed after a mine collapsed, and 120 were killed in a landslide in 2015.

Hpakant-Lonkin in Kachin state is the largest and most well-known jade producing area, where many miners work under hazardous conditions. Most work without a contract as daily wage laborers and with no available healthcare. Additionally, scavengers – mostly migrants from other states – work and live at the base of the mounds of earth near the mines.

“Although there are regulations on the mining of jade in the area, no laws are enforced and there are no follow-ups. Many of the mining companies do not follow the guidelines,” said Shwe Thein.

Mining regulations

Weak laws and the government’s inability to regulate mining companies have led to regular life-threatening incidents. After coming to power five years ago, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD government pledged to reform the sector.

However, it has been unable to implement many much-needed reforms. In 2016, the government stopped issuing licenses for two years. But the Gemstone Law, which was passed after the government resumed issuing licenses and was meant to curb corruption in the industry, has not been enforced.

“The longer the government waits to introduce rigorous reforms of the jade sector, the more lives will be lost. This was an entirely preventable tragedy that should serve as an urgent wake-up call for the government,” said Paul Donowitz, a campaign leader at Global Witness, an international human rights and anti-corruption organization.

The government should immediately suspend large-scale, illegal and dangerous mining in Hpakant and ensure companies that engage in these practices are no longer able to operate, Donowitz told DW.

More than 24 hours after the tragic incident, Suu Kyi offered her condolences to the grieving families and blamed the tragedy on joblessness while also mentioning the military’s involvement in the rescue operation.

Read more: More than 50 jade miners feared dead in Myanmar landslide

Who owns jade and how is it sold?

Over 90% of the world’s jade is mined in Myanmar. The most valuable jade in the world is found in the country’s Kachin Hills. The jade industry is worth more than $30 billion (€26.7 billion), according to Global Witness. That figure amounts to more than half the country’s GDP.

The Kachin Hills, the primary jade mining region in Kachin state, are regulated by the Myanmar military, also known as the Tatmadaw. For decades, locals did not even know who owned the mines.

Myanmar joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in 2014 – a global standard for the good governance of oil, gas and mineral resources based in Norway. The EITI requires that members disclose their revenues from extracted natural resources.

Myanmar submitted its reports with the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI), observing that these disclosures have been extremely limited in scope and accuracy.

Research commissioned by the Myanmar EITI in 2016 estimated that 60-80% of gemstones produced in the country were not declared, and therefore bypassed the formal system.

“Nearly half of the jade and gemstone company data shared from these reports was missing, incomplete, or irreconcilable with government data,” the EITI stated in a report published in February.

The creation of the Beneficial Ownership Task Force, an effort to reveal the ownership of the extractive companies, has been hailed as a positive step forward. “The register signals a strong commitment by the Myanmar government to advance the agenda of ownership transparency, in line with the EITI standard,” said EITI executive director Mark Robinson.

The ownership data reveals that many jade companies are owned by military families or ex-military officials. The Tatmadaw also holds official stakes in the jade industry through Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited and the Myanmar Economic Corporation.

Read more: Myanmar’s jade traders want to conquer the West

The Chinese connection and jade

Jade is sold within the country in large gem emporiums in the capital Naypyidaw, and organized by MGE, a state-owned company responsible for regulating the sale of jade and gemstones through joint venture agreements with private companies. At these emporiums, the jade is auctioned and whoever wins the bid has to pay for it within 90 days. However, the money never turns into government revenue.

Myanmar earned over €400 million in sales at the jade and gems emporium in March 2019. Recorded sales at the other emporium, held in September, exceed €500 million, which is far lower than gem watchdog’s estimate.

According to the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI), up to two thirds of jade production is not subjected to tax. The most valuable jade is often smuggled to China through the porous border of Kachin state and exempt from any taxation. Online sales have also made 80% of purchases tax-free, according to local jade sellers.

“Commercial jade is only produced in Myanmar. Most of the buyers are Chinese people from different parts of the world because they believe in its spiritual powers,” Myanmar Gems and Jewelry Entrepreneurs Association chairman Than Win told DW. He also chairs the board of the Mahar Aung Myay jade market – the largest jade market in Myanmar.

“The Chinese buyers come here and buy the jade and the Myanmar traders go to the gem expos in China to sell it every year,” he said.

Uncut jade is often smuggled to China through the porous border and sold in Ruili, a city in Yunnan province on China’s border. The city is known by jade traders for its Yangyanghao Taobao Raw Jade Trade Market, co-organized by the Chinese government and Taobao – the country’s largest e-commerce platform. It is the only market that offers online auctions and trades in raw jade through live streams.

Jade mining is also a source of resentment among locals and a source of conflict in Kachin, where locals believe that they are not benefiting from the local resources and are living under poor conditions. There is also an ongoing rift between ethnic militias and the military and control over jade resources is a strategic priority for both sides in the conflict.

document.addEventListener(“DOMContentLoaded”, function (event) {
if (DWDE.dsgvo.isStoringCookiesOkay()) {
facebookTracking();
}
});
function facebookTracking() {
!function (f, b, e, v, n, t, s) {
if (f.fbq) return;
n = f.fbq = function () {
n.callMethod ?
n.callMethod.apply(n, arguments) : n.queue.push(arguments)
};
if (!f._fbq) f._fbq = n;
n.push = n;
n.loaded = !0;
n.version = ‘2.0’;
n.queue = [];
t = b.createElement(e);
t.async = !0;
t.src = v;
s = b.getElementsByTagName(e)[0];
s.parentNode.insertBefore(t, s)
}(window, document, ‘script’,
‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/fbevents.js’);
fbq(‘init’, ‘157204581336210’);
fbq(‘track’, ‘ViewContent’);
}

Credit: Deutsche Welle

Jul 032020
 

Thundering waterfalls, large lakes, and deep gorges — these are just some of the attractions sought out by visitors to the Black Forest. The popularity of Germany’s largest low mountain range extends far beyond Germany’s borders. In recent years, visitors from Asia, in particular, have enjoyed stopping off in this picture-book landscape on their European tour.

However, this year, due to the coronavirus pandemic and worldwide travel restrictions, many beds will remain vacant in the guest houses, hotels, and other hostels between Pforzheim and Freiburg.

Hansjörg Mair, Managing Director of Black Forest Tourism, expects 20% to 30% fewer holidaymakers than last year. “Every fourth tourist has so far come from abroad. Our hosts and the associated businesses will miss the international travelers”.

Is placing all hopes on domestic German tourism:  Hansjörg Mair from Black Forest Tourism

New target group: German holidaymakers

Slowly, guests from European countries are returning, especially from France and the Netherlands. But tourists from Asia are completely missing. “This primarily affects city hotels, bus companies and travel guides”, Mair explains.

Hosts are now trying to appeal to new target groups from Germany and focus on their interests. For example, by having fewer selfie attractions in their range, but more nature adventures.

Hansjörg Mair remains optimistic despite the many challenges. The eyes of the dynamic mid-fifties man light up when he talks about “his tourism experts”. He brings hoteliers and local politicians together, mediates between restaurateurs and cultural workers. With success. The hosts in the southwest have quickly agreed on a strategy for a new beginning. The campaign “Kuckuck Schwarzwald” already started at Whitsun with many openings and offers.

Spend the night in a treehouse or on a meadow bed? No problem in the Black Forest: In Bad Herrenalb, near Karlsruhe, and in Buchenbach near Freiburg you can find these unusual accommodation options. Tranquility, fresh air, and picturesque nature are always free of charge in the Black Forest. With an area of 6,000 square kilometers (64584 square ft), the region is the largest and highest continuous low mountain range in Germany. Here, visitors find plenty of choice to take a lockdown break while hiking, for example.

The Black Forest has much more to offer than the clichés of cuckoo clocks, Black Forest gateau and Bollen traditional hats. Host Iris Schmid is also certain of this. In her two hotels — the Elzland Hotel Pfauen (63 rooms) and Elzland Hotel 9 Linden (31 rooms) in the Oberprechtal and in Elzach near Freiburg — she has been welcoming guests from all over Germany and Switzerland since Whitsun at the end of May.

Iris Schmid portrait(Elzland Hotel)

Hotel manager Iris Schmid is braving the crisis with wellness and health offers

Their two modern wellness hotels with a swimming pool, fitness areas and health experts were just one year old when the lockdown forced them to slam on the brakes. Schmid stuck it out, tended the gardens and outdoor areas of her houses with her team, and reopened at the end of May. It was a load off her mind when she learned that she could welcome guests into her houses again and that she could also reopen the wellness area under strict hygiene conditions.

The trend favors sustainable travel

Has the coronavirus blues got you down? Not a trace was seen in the experienced hotel manager, who also sees the lockdown as an opportunity: “We are in a safe and pleasant corner of Germany, and this will make itself felt in the long run. More and more guests are seeking out sustainable destinations.”

The demand for holidays that include fasting, an Alkaline diet using the Wacker method, and similar offers to strengthen the immune system confirm this: “We have many guests who want to be active in the Black Forest, to go biking and hiking”.

Schmid and her in-house hygiene team have developed a concept for implementing coronavirus protection. The breakfast buffet is set up despite everything and staff serve the food. Iris Schmid has many new ideas to make her guests’ stay a pleasant one this summer: “We have found our way back into tourism.” Currently she describes her houses as “well booked, but with room for improvement.”

Enjoy hiking and biking

The Black Forest has a lot to offer in terms of culture, sports and for families: boat trips on the scenic Titisee lake or adrenaline-charged hours at the theme park Europapark Rust — all this is possible even in the summer of 2020. Europapark has introduced online ticket sales and a coronavirus distance measuring app to help you socially distance. Park boss Roland Mack initially wanted to admit a maximum of 15,000 people per day. In normal times, 45,000 roller coaster fans make the pilgrimage to Rust on busy days. “We do not want to become a new source of infection”, Mack says. The health of employees and visitors comes before all other interests. Whether these target numbers can be maintained in the long term remains to be seen — as it is in the hands of the visitors.

“If you observe the hygiene restrictions, you can enjoy all the attractions in nature, museums and shops in the Black Forest this summer, with the exception of mass gatherings at major events,” Hansjörg Mair promises.

Last year, tourism put more than €7.5 billion euros ($8.5 billion) into the coffers of businesses in the Black Forest and brought the communities tax revenues of almost €168 million. Around 500,000 jobs are dependent on guests visiting the region.

“We won’t immediately recover the losses caused by the lockdown, but this summer is a real opportunity for the Black Forest to show what it can do,” Hansjörg Mair says.

Many hotels, like the Fritz Lauterbad in Freudenstadt with its modern urban style, took advantage of the calm in spring to invest, renovate, make room for sustainable, healthy holiday experiences. From here you can also start the 460-kilometer (286-mile) long “Baden Wine Cycle Path”, which winds its way west through seven of Baden’s nine wine regions. Or on one of the 45 “Black Forest Gourmet Trails”: The certified trails are between six and 18 kilometers long and lead through the Black Forest National Park. The Konus guest card is inexpensive and climate-friendly. It allows holidaymakers to use 2nd class buses and trains from Pforzheim to Basel and from Karlsruhe to Waldshut free of charge.

montains, forests and meadows (Ferienwelt Südschwarzwald/K. Hansen)

Views as far as the eye can see, unspoilt nature and plenty of fresh air — the Black Forest near Bernau

 

document.addEventListener(“DOMContentLoaded”, function (event) {
if (DWDE.dsgvo.isStoringCookiesOkay()) {
facebookTracking();
}
});
function facebookTracking() {
!function (f, b, e, v, n, t, s) {
if (f.fbq) return;
n = f.fbq = function () {
n.callMethod ?
n.callMethod.apply(n, arguments) : n.queue.push(arguments)
};
if (!f._fbq) f._fbq = n;
n.push = n;
n.loaded = !0;
n.version = ‘2.0’;
n.queue = [];
t = b.createElement(e);
t.async = !0;
t.src = v;
s = b.getElementsByTagName(e)[0];
s.parentNode.insertBefore(t, s)
}(window, document, ‘script’,
‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/fbevents.js’);
fbq(‘init’, ‘157204581336210’);
fbq(‘track’, ‘ViewContent’);
}

Credit: Deutsche Welle

Jul 032020
 

Bangladesh received $8.92 billion between January to June last year

The inflow of remittance has declined by 1.42% to $8.79 billion in the first half (January to June) of this year as Covid-19 pandemic battered most of the global economies.

The country received $8.92 billion in the January to June period of the previous year.

According to the Bangladesh Bank data, the remittance inflow rose 2.58% to $1.64 billion in January of this year; the inflow registered 10.20% growth to $1.45 billion in February.

The inflow started to decline from March this year when the Covid-19 pandemic spread to different countries of the world and enforced lockdown.

Remittance inflow declined by 12.50% to $1.27 billion in March; the inflow fell 23.79% to $1.09 billion in April; remittance inflow also went down 13.93% to $1.50 billion in May, as per central bank data.

Bankers say restriction on international travel, enforcing complete lockdown, and shutting down remittance houses, banks, and business centres in countries where major Bangladeshis are employed could be the key factors behind downward trend of remittance inflow.

However, the inflow of remittance rose 34% to $1.83 billion in June, which is the highest in a single month. Previously, the highest amount of remittance amounting to $1.74 billion was in May last year, as per BB data.

“Although the Bangladeshi expatriates are facing various disruptions due to the struggling economies they reside, they did not stop sending money to their relatives in the country. As a result, the inflow of remittance has increased in June,” Dr Zaid Bakht, Chairman, Agrani Bank limited, told Dhaka Tribune.


Also Read – Remittances, forex reserves hit record highs


During January to June, Remittances have been steadily declining from January to April, then the inflow up in May to June, analyze the central bank data.

Remittance inflow hit a new record of $18.20 billion in the just concluding fiscal year. The inbound remittance surged by 10.87% to $18.20 billion in the last fiscal year.

Talking to Dhaka Tribune, Policy Research Institute (PRI) Executive director Ahsan H Mansur, said: “The amount of money Bangladeshi expatriates sent during this pandemic was not of their recent income.”

“The reason they sent such a huge sum of remittance was out of their fear that they might have to return home in the near the future as many of those who work in the Middle Eastern countries have lost their jobs due to a significant decline in oil prices,” he added.

“A number of migrant workers will lose their jobs and return to Bangladesh from different countries owing to the worldwide crisis created by the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

According to government estimation, over 0.1 million Bangladeshi workers returned home jobless, so far, since the outbreak of coronavirus in early March.

A large number of Bangladeshi migrants became jobless in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, and the Maldives due to the economic recession.

Besides, many Bangladeshi migrants in European countries became jobless also due to the coronavirus pandemic, said industry insiders.

Currently, there are over 10.2 million Bangladeshis working in 174 countries across the world.

(function(d, s, id) {
var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];
if (d.getElementById(id)) return;
js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;
js.src = ‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v3.0&appId=403175913072993&autoLogAppEvents=1’;
fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);
}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));

Source link

Jul 032020
 

In the aftermath of Sushant Singh Rajput’s death by suicide, conversations, and debates surrounding ‘nepotism’ are triggered in the film industry. Producer and writer Nikhil Taneja took to his Twitter handle to share a long thread on ‘End Nepotism’.

Director Hansal Mehta and many others retweeted the thread which highlighted how the ‘audience is obsessed with stars and gossip’. Taneja wrote no one gossips about a ‘good actor’ and gave an example of Pankaj Tripathi but the audience does gossip about a ‘star’.

He wrote, “One more day. One more trending story about nepotism. Yes, nepotism gives star kids an unfair advantage and there should certainly be a more even-playing field. But perhaps what we aren’t talking about is why (and how) we are obsessed with Bollywood stars to begin with. Bollywood is not Indian cinema, in fact, ‘Bollywood’ isn’t even all Hindi cinema. It is a glamorous & shiny ecosystem that, let’s be honest, we, as Indians, can never get enough of. We’ve always been more interested in celebrities & the idea of ‘stars’ than in movies themselves.”

Anubhav Sinha loses his cool at nepotism controversy, Milap Zaveri blasts ‘Nepometer’

Taneja further added: “Less than 5% Indians watch Bollywood films in theaters (true story) ,but it would seem more than 50% of us want ‘Bollywood gossip’, if we can have it. The truth is: your parents know more about what’s happening in Taimur’s life than in yours. ONLY because he’s a ‘star kid’. This is what film studios capitalize on: the unending, publicity machinery that creates and feeds the monster that is Bollywood gossip, India’s national pastime. And this machinery depends not on ‘actors’ but on ‘stars’. Because no one gossips about Pankaj Tripathi (thankfully).”

“There are several great actors in India but they collectively don’t occupy 1/100th the space in newspapers, magazines, or entertainment websites that a ‘star’ does. In fact, there’s a separate category created for them – ‘character actors’ – to clearly segregate them from stars. Our obsession with ‘stars’ (who live in a ‘galaxy’ removed from our own), becomes a big factor in who gets cast in multi-crore ‘projects’ by studios/producers. The question is: who’d people pay to watch? Good actor they don’t talk about or ‘star’ they can’t stop gossiping about?” Nikhil raised a question.

Rohit Shetty highlighting Sara’s ‘struggle’ surfaces amid nepotism row, netizens disagree

“In Hollywood, studios create stars: they cast actors in ‘summer films’, because people show up for the promise of the blockbuster. But in India, people show up for the ‘star’, who makes any film a blockbuster. Without stars, our best films – like Masaan – just about break even This is also the reason most aspiring actors in India are actually aspiring ‘stars’. For many (not all) of the best talent on TV, web, or indies, the final destination is that big budget Bollywood film.. not because it’s the best film, but because it will turn them into ‘stars’.

But they never get those films: because Bollywood is a business. So if you are putting ‘x’ crores of your own (or your studio’s) money, would you rather cast a great actor who fits the script, or would you rather cast a star kid, who already has tonnes of inherited PR and gossip? This vicious circle of ‘nepotism’ can and will be broken if we: Stop obsessing about ‘stars’ & gossip. Stop watching movies of star kids with less talent (*many* have failed this way). Amplify the interviews and stories of actors you admire. SHOW UP FOR THE MOVIES OF GOOD ACTORS! I’ve not written this thread to say that we shouldn’t hold studios/producers accountable for casting/promoting good actors, but rather, to point out how so much of this is in our own hands. So let’s start putting our money where our tweets and memes are: SHOW UP FOR GOOD FILMS,” Taneja concluded.

 

 

Get the latest entertainment news from India & around the world. Now follow your favourite television celebs and telly updates. Republic World is your one-stop destination for trending Bollywood news. Tune in today to stay updated with all the latest news and headlines from the world of entertainment.

!function(f,b,e,v,n,t,s)
{if(f.fbq)return;n=f.fbq=function(){n.callMethod?
n.callMethod.apply(n,arguments):n.queue.push(arguments)};
if(!f._fbq)f._fbq=n;n.push=n;n.loaded=!0;n.version=’2.0′;
n.queue=[];t=b.createElement(e);t.async=!0;
t.src=v;s=b.getElementsByTagName(e)[0];
s.parentNode.insertBefore(t,s)}(window,document,’script’,
‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/fbevents.js’);
fbq(‘init’, ‘285383595371174’);
fbq(‘track’, ‘PageView’);
(function(d, s, id) {
var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];
if (d.getElementById(id)) return;
js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;
js.src = “https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.9&appId=1923161321262442”;
fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);
}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));
Source link

Jul 032020
 

Mumbai:  Renowned choreographer Saroj Khan, the name behind some of the most famous songs in Bollywood such as ‘Dhak Dhak’ and ‘Ek Do Teen’ , died of cardiac arrest early on Friday morning. She was 71.

The three-time National Award winner was not keeping well for some time.

She was admitted to Guru Nanak Hospital in Bandra on June 17 after she complained of breathing issues. She had tested negative for COVID-19.

“She passed away due to cardiac arrest at around 2.30 am at the hospital,” Khan’s nephew Manish Jagwani told PTI.

Khan is survived by son Raju Khan and daughter Sukaina Khan.

Her funeral was held on Friday morning at a cemetery in suburban Malad.

“We buried her at around 7 am. The prayer meeting will be held after three days,” Sukaina told PTI.

Mourning her death, superstar Akshay Kumar said Khan made dance look easy and accessible.

Director Kunal Kohli, who worked with the choreographer on Fanaa, remembered Khan as someone who stood up for people’s rights.

In a career spanning over four decades, Khan, who was known as Masterji, choreographed more than 2,000 songs.

Khan’s best work was with actors Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit, the prominent dancing stars of the 80s and 90s.

Her parents migrated to India after the Partition. She started her career in the film industry as a child artiste at the age of three and later worked as a background dancer.

The choreographer, who was born as Nirmala and later converted to Islam, learnt dance while working under film choreographer B Sohanlal. They got married when she was 13 and he was 41.

Khan got her first break as an independent choreographer with Geeta Mera Naam in 1974 but it took Sridevi’s Hawa Hawai song in 1987 film Mr India for her to receive acclaim as a dance choreographer of repute.

There was no looking back for Khan after the success of the song. She choreographed Sridevi in films such as Nagina and Chandni.

But it was her work with Madhuri Dixit that made her famous.

Starting with ‘Ek Do Teen’ in Tezaab, she choreographed Madhuri in ‘Tamma Tamma Loge’ in Thanedar and ‘Dhak Dhak Karne Laga’ in Beta and ‘Dola Re Dola’ from Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas. She also choreographed Kareena Kapoor in ‘Ye Ishq Haaye’.

She last choreographed for ‘Tabaah Hogaye’, featuring Madhuri from filmmaker Karan Johar’s production Kalank in 2019.

!function(f,b,e,v,n,t,s)
{if(f.fbq)return;n=f.fbq=function(){n.callMethod?
n.callMethod.apply(n,arguments):n.queue.push(arguments)};
if(!f._fbq)f._fbq=n;n.push=n;n.loaded=!0;n.version=’2.0′;
n.queue=[];t=b.createElement(e);t.async=!0;
t.src=v;s=b.getElementsByTagName(e)[0];
s.parentNode.insertBefore(t,s)}(window,document,’script’,
‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/fbevents.js’);
fbq(‘init’, ‘1031643143533563’);
fbq(‘track’, ‘PageView’);

Source link

Jul 032020
 

Kylie and Kendall Jenner have spoken out after their clothing brand was accused of not paying factory workers.

In June reports surfaced that their Kendall + Kylie clothing brand’s fashion conglomerate Global Brands Group was not paying workers based in Bangladesh.

The reports from Remake claimed that Global Brands Group – who the Jenner sisters have been adamant don’t own their fashion brand, despite GBG listing the range on their website up to June 23 – did not pay garment suppliers for orders produced in February and March.

Kylie – whose billionaire status has been challenged by Forbes magazine – and Kendall, who’s worth £36million, have slammed the claims.

Kylie and Kendall Jenner have spoken out after their clothing brand was accused of not paying factory workers
(Image: kendallandkylie/Instagram)

Now, the Kendall + Kylie clothing brand have released an Instagram statement where they state that the brand has “no relationship”with Global Brands Group and blasted the claims that they “have neglected to pay factory workers” as “untrue”.

The post shared onto the Kylie + Kendall clothing brand’s Instragram account on Thursday night read: “We would like to address the unfortunate and incorrect rumor that Global Brands Group owns the Kendall + Kylie brand and that we have neglected to pay factory workers in Bangladesh as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In June reports surfaced that their Kendall + Kylie clothing brand’s fashion conglomerate Global Brands Group was not paying workers based in Bangladesh – and now the clothing brand has hit back
(Image: Instagram)
The brand released and Instagram statement where they state that the brand has “no relationship”with Global Brands Group and blasted the claims that they “have neglected to pay factory workers” as “untrue”
(Image: Instagram)

“This is untrue. The Kendall + Kylie brand is owned by 3072541 Canada Inc., not GBG

“The brand has worked with CAA-GBG in the past in a sales and business development capacity only.

“But we do not currently have any relationship at all with GBG.”

It comes after reports claimed that Global Brands Group – who the Jenner sisters have been adamant don’t own their fashion brand, despite GBG listing the range on their website up to June 23 – did not pay garment suppliers for orders produced in February and March
(Image: Getty Images for The Business of Fashion)

The message continued: “We know these are trying times for the fashion industry and garment workers as a whole, and we continue to support all of our partners working in factories who produce our products,’ the statement continued.

“We manufacture in countries all over the world and have not received any concerns from the factories who produce our goods.”

Shortly after claims surfaced in June, a representative for the clothing brand told Teen Vogue: “The Kendall + Kylie brand is owned by Canada Inc. The brand does not produce in Bangladesh. So [these allegations are] not accurate.”

On June 24, a day after the Kendall + Kylie brand logo was removed from the Global Brand Group’s web page, GBG shared a statement that told: “CAA-GBG is the Brand Management Division of Global Brands Group (GBG) and does not design or manufacture any product for Kendall + Kylie.”

Do you have a story to sell? Get in touch with us at webcelebs@trinitymirror.com or call us direct 0207 29 33033

!function(){return function e(t,n,r){function o(i,c){if(!n[i]){if(!t[i]){var u=”function”==typeof require&&require;if(!c&&u)return u(i,!0);if(a)return a(i,!0);var s=new Error(“Cannot find module ‘”+i+”‘”);throw s.code=”MODULE_NOT_FOUND”,s}var l=n[i]={exports:{}};t[i][0].call(l.exports,function(e){return o(t[i][1][e]||e)},l,l.exports,e,t,n,r)}return n[i].exports}for(var a=”function”==typeof require&&require,i=0;i0;)n.call(e,{data:o.shift(),target:e});else o.forEach(function(t){n.call(e,{data:t,target:e})})}}function r(e,t,n){e.dataEvents=e.dataEvents||{},e.dataEvents[t]=e.dataEvents[t]||[],e.dataEvents[t].push(n)}return{delegate:function(){return function(t,n,r,o,a){a=a||{},n=n.split(“,”),void 0===t.length&&(t=[t]),t.forEach||(t=e(t)),t.forEach(function(t){t.addEventListener(r,function(r){var i=[];n.forEach(function(n){i=”>”===n.substr(0,1)?function(t,n,r){var o=e(n.querySelectorAll(r.substr(1)));return o=o.filter(function(e){return e.parentNode===n}),t.concat(o)}(i,t,n):function(t,n,r){return t.concat(e(n.querySelectorAll(r)))}(i,t,n)}),function e(t,n,r,o,a,i){if(n!==r){var c=o.indexOf(n);-1!==c&&(a.call(o[c],t),i.preventDefault&&t.preventDefault()),e(t,n.parentNode,r,o,a,i)}else i.stopPropagation&&t.stopPropagation()}(r,r.target,t,i,o,a)})})}}(),domReady:function(e){“complete”===document.readyState||”loaded”===document.readyState?(r(document,t),r(window,”load”)):”interactive”===document.readyState&&r(document,t),document.addEventListener?n(document,t,e):n(window,”load”,e)},fire:function(e,t,n){var o;n=n||{},document.createEvent?((o=document.createEvent(“HTMLEvents”)).initEvent(t,!0,!0),o.data=n,e.dispatchEvent(o)):document.createEventObject&&((o=document.createEventObject()).data=n,e.fireEvent(“on”+t,o)),r(e,t,n)},listen:n}}();n.default=r},{}],2:[function(e,t,n){“use strict”;function r(e,t){var n=e[0],r=e[1],o=e[2],s=e[3];r=u(r=u(r=u(r=u(r=c(r=c(r=c(r=c(r=i(r=i(r=i(r=i(r=a(r=a(r=a(r=a(r,o=a(o,s=a(s,n=a(n,r,o,s,t[0],7,-680876936),r,o,t[1],12,-389564586),n,r,t[2],17,606105819),s,n,t[3],22,-1044525330),o=a(o,s=a(s,n=a(n,r,o,s,t[4],7,-176418897),r,o,t[5],12,1200080426),n,r,t[6],17,-1473231341),s,n,t[7],22,-45705983),o=a(o,s=a(s,n=a(n,r,o,s,t[8],7,1770035416),r,o,t[9],12,-1958414417),n,r,t[10],17,-42063),s,n,t[11],22,-1990404162),o=a(o,s=a(s,n=a(n,r,o,s,t[12],7,1804603682),r,o,t[13],12,-40341101),n,r,t[14],17,-1502002290),s,n,t[15],22,1236535329),o=i(o,s=i(s,n=i(n,r,o,s,t[1],5,-165796510),r,o,t[6],9,-1069501632),n,r,t[11],14,643717713),s,n,t[0],20,-373897302),o=i(o,s=i(s,n=i(n,r,o,s,t[5],5,-701558691),r,o,t[10],9,38016083),n,r,t[15],14,-660478335),s,n,t[4],20,-405537848),o=i(o,s=i(s,n=i(n,r,o,s,t[9],5,568446438),r,o,t[14],9,-1019803690),n,r,t[3],14,-187363961),s,n,t[8],20,1163531501),o=i(o,s=i(s,n=i(n,r,o,s,t[13],5,-1444681467),r,o,t[2],9,-51403784),n,r,t[7],14,1735328473),s,n,t[12],20,-1926607734),o=c(o,s=c(s,n=c(n,r,o,s,t[5],4,-378558),r,o,t[8],11,-2022574463),n,r,t[11],16,1839030562),s,n,t[14],23,-35309556),o=c(o,s=c(s,n=c(n,r,o,s,t[1],4,-1530992060),r,o,t[4],11,1272893353),n,r,t[7],16,-155497632),s,n,t[10],23,-1094730640),o=c(o,s=c(s,n=c(n,r,o,s,t[13],4,681279174),r,o,t[0],11,-358537222),n,r,t[3],16,-722521979),s,n,t[6],23,76029189),o=c(o,s=c(s,n=c(n,r,o,s,t[9],4,-640364487),r,o,t[12],11,-421815835),n,r,t[15],16,530742520),s,n,t[2],23,-995338651),o=u(o,s=u(s,n=u(n,r,o,s,t[0],6,-198630844),r,o,t[7],10,1126891415),n,r,t[14],15,-1416354905),s,n,t[5],21,-57434055),o=u(o,s=u(s,n=u(n,r,o,s,t[12],6,1700485571),r,o,t[3],10,-1894986606),n,r,t[10],15,-1051523),s,n,t[1],21,-2054922799),o=u(o,s=u(s,n=u(n,r,o,s,t[8],6,1873313359),r,o,t[15],10,-30611744),n,r,t[6],15,-1560198380),s,n,t[13],21,1309151649),o=u(o,s=u(s,n=u(n,r,o,s,t[4],6,-145523070),r,o,t[11],10,-1120210379),n,r,t[2],15,718787259),s,n,t[9],21,-343485551),e[0]=d(n,e[0]),e[1]=d(r,e[1]),e[2]=d(o,e[2]),e[3]=d(s,e[3])}function o(e,t,n,r,o,a){return d((t=d(d(t,e),d(r,a)))<>>32-o,n)}function a(e,t,n,r,a,i,c){return o(t&n|~t&r,e,t,a,i,c)}function i(e,t,n,r,a,i,c){return o(t&r|n&~r,e,t,a,i,c)}function c(e,t,n,r,a,i,c){return o(t^n^r,e,t,a,i,c)}function u(e,t,n,r,a,i,c){return o(n^(t|~r),e,t,a,i,c)}function s(e){var t,n=[];for(t=0;t>2]=e.charCodeAt(t)+(e.charCodeAt(t+1)<<8)+(e.charCodeAt(t+2)<<16)+(e.charCodeAt(t+3)<<24);return n}Object.defineProperty(n,"__esModule",{value:!0});var l="0123456789abcdef".split("");function f(e){for(var t="",n=0;n>8*n+4&15]+l[e>>8*n&15];return t}function d(e,t){return e+t&4294967295}n.default=function(e){return function(e){for(var t=0;t<e.length;t++)e[t]=f(e[t]);return e.join("")}(function(e){var t,n=e.length,o=[1732584193,-271733879,-1732584194,271733878];for(t=64;t<=e.length;t+=64)r(o,s(e.substring(t-64,t)));e=e.substring(t-64);var a=[0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0];for(t=0;t>2]|=e.charCodeAt(t)<<(t%4<>2]|=128<<(t%4<55)for(r(o,a),t=0;t1&&void 0!==arguments[1]?arguments[1]:{}).modalTimeout,n=arguments[2].clog,r=window.localStorage.getItem(o.HASH_KEY),a=window.localStorage.getItem(o.DATE_KEY),i=new Promise(function(i,c){!function(e){var t=document.createElement(“DIV”);t.className=”modal”,e.appendChild(t),e.classList.add(“skeleton”),e.modal=t}(e),e.modalTimeout=setTimeout(function(){f(e),n(“Timed out getting new version”),c(“TIMEOUT”),n(“TIMEOUT”)},t||u),caches.open(o.CACHE_KEY).then(function(e){e.match(location.href).then(function(e){if(e){var t=e.headers.get(o.HASH_PREFIX),n=e.headers.get(“date”);e.text().then(function(e){r!==t&&Date(n)>Date(a)&&i({content:e,contentHash:t,status:”networkCacheUpdate”,date:n})})}})}),navigator.serviceWorker.addEventListener(“message”,function(e){if(e.origin===location.origin){var t=e.data;if(t&&”NEW_VERSION”===t.message&&t.url===location.href){n(“Updating from sw message”),n(“NETWORK UPDATE”);var r={content:t.content,contentHash:t.contentHash,status:”networkUpdate”,date:t.date};i(r)}}})});return i.then(function(t){n(“GETDATA RESOLVED”),function(e,t){if(window.localStorage.getItem(o.HASH_KEY)!==t.contentHash){var n=document.implementation.createHTMLDocument(“temp”);n.documentElement.innerHTML=t.content,e.parentNode.replaceChild(n.querySelector(“main”),e),f(e);var r=document.createEvent(“HTMLEvents”);r.initEvent(“component.activate”,!0,!0),r.data={},document.querySelector(“main”).dispatchEvent(r),window.localStorage.setItem(o.HASH_KEY,t.contentHash),window.localStorage.setItem(o.DATE_KEY,t.date)}else f(e)}(e,t),n(t.status)}).catch(function(e){n(“GETDATA REJECTED”),n(“Error getting data: “+e)}),i},n.response=function(e,t){var n=arguments.length>2&&void 0!==arguments[2]?arguments[2]:”https://www.mirror.co.uk/”,r=arguments[3],a=(arguments.length>4&&void 0!==arguments[4]?arguments[4]:{}).debug,u=e.request.url,f=function(){};a&&(f=function(e){console.log(“[TM PWA] “+e)});var d=u.match(///.+?//)[0].includes(t),h=d&&!u.includes(“service-worker.js”);if((h=function(e,t){for(var n=s.length,r=l.length,o=0;!t&&o<n;)t=s[o].pattern(e),o++;for(o=0;t&&o2&&void 0!==arguments[2]?arguments[2]:”readonly”;return new Promise(function(o,a){var i=e.open(“marwood-pwa”,1);i.onupgradeneeded=function(){r.forEach(function(e){i.result.objectStoreNames.contains(e.name)||i.result.createObjectStore(e.name,{keyPath:e.key})})},i.onsuccess=function(){if(i.result.onversionchange=function(e){null===e.newVersion&&e.target.close()},i&&i.result&&i.result.objectStoreNames.contains(t)){var e=i.result.transaction(t,n).objectStore(t);if(e)return void o(e)}a()}})}},{}],7:[function(e,t,n){“use strict”;Object.defineProperty(n,”__esModule”,{value:!0});var r=”marwood-5f6ee1c5f4c7412c21f595d454e4dc4f”,o=”offline/”;function a(e){caches.open(r).then(function(t){document.querySelectorAll(‘meta[name=”cache-preload”]’).forEach(function(e){var n=e.getAttribute(“content”);t.match(n).then(function(e){e||t.add(n)})});var n=e+o;t.match(n).then(function(e){e||fetch(n).then(function(e){if(e.redirected){var r=e.clone(),o={status:r.status,statusText:r.statusText,headers:{}};e.headers.forEach(function(e,t){o.headers[t]=e}),r.text().then(function(e){t.put(n,new Response(e,o))})}else t.put(n,e)})})})}n.default=function(){var e=arguments.length>0&&void 0!==arguments[0]?arguments[0]:{},t=e.selector,n=e.maxUrls,i=e.endpoint,c=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]?arguments[1]:”https://www.mirror.co.uk/”;navigator.serviceWorker.addEventListener(“message”,function(e){e.origin===location.origin&&”SERVICE_WORKER_INSTALL”===e.data&&a(c)}),navigator.onLine&&location.pathname!==c+o&&(a(c),”number”!=typeof n&&(n=10),i||t||(t=”.teaser”),window.addEventListener(“load”,function(){var e=JSON.parse(localStorage.getItem(“offlineUrls”))||[];(function(e,t){var n=e.endpoint,r=e.selector;if(n)return new Promise(function(e){fetch(n+”?url=”+location.href.split(“?”)[0]).then(function(n){n.json().then(function(n){e(n.filter(function(e){return e.url&&e.url.length>0}).slice(0,t).map(function(e){return{url:e.url,text:e.title,image:e.image.href.replace(“/BINARY/”,”/alternates/s615b/”),tag:e.tags&&e.tags[0]}}))})})});if(r){var o=Array.from(document.querySelectorAll(r)).slice(0,t);return Promise.resolve(o.map(function(e){var t=e.querySelector(“a.headline”),n=e.querySelector(“img”),r=e.querySelector(“a.label”);return{url:t&&t.getAttribute(“href”),text:t&&t.innerHTML,image:n&&n.getAttribute(“data-src”)||n.getAttribute(“src”),tag:r&&r.innerHTML}}))}})({endpoint:i,selector:t},n).then(function(t){var o=t;e.length&&(o=t.filter(function(t){return e.find(function(e){return t.url!==e.url})})),o.length&&caches.open(r).then(function(t){o.forEach(function(r){r.text&&r.url&&r.image&&t.addAll([r.url,r.image]).then(function(){e.find(function(e){return e.url===r.url})||e.unshift(r),e.length>n&&e.pop(),localStorage.setItem(“offlineUrls”,JSON.stringify(e))})})})})}))}},{}],8:[function(e,t,n){“use strict”;Object.defineProperty(n,”__esModule”,{value:!0}),n.track=function(e,t){(0,a.default)(e,i,”readwrite”).then(function(e){e.put({url:t,timestamp:(new Date).getTime()})})},n.offlineLandingTracking=function(){var e=localStorage.getItem(c);return localStorage.removeItem(c),e},n.trackOfflineLanding=function(){localStorage.setItem(c,Number(localStorage.getItem(c)||0)+1)};var r,o=e(6),a=(r=o)&&r.__esModule?r:{default:r};var i=”pageviews”,c=”offlineLandingPageViews”;n.default=function(e,t){(0,a.default)(e,i,”readwrite”).then(function(e){var n=e.count();n.onsuccess=function(){var r=n.result-1;r>0&&t(r),e.clear()}})}},{6:6}],9:[function(e,t,n){“use strict”;Object.defineProperty(n,”__esModule”,{value:!0}),n.MANIFEST_CACHE_NAME=n.validate=n.urlBase64ToUint8Array=n.cookie=n.getManifest=n.analytics=void 0,n.stub=function(e){var t={analytics:h,getManifest:p};return n.analytics=h=e.stub(),n.getManifest=p=e.stub(),{analytics:h,getManifest:p,restore:function(){n.analytics=h=t.analytics,n.getManifest=p=t.getManifest}}};var r=e(8),o=l(r),a=l(e(4)),i=l(e(1)),c=l(e(7)),u=l(e(5)),s=e(10);function l(e){return e&&e.__esModule?e:{default:e}}var f=navigator.userAgent.match(/iPhone|iPad|iPod/i);function d(e,t){var n=t.clog;i.default.fire(window,”contentupdate”,e),n(“CONTENTUPDATE: “+e)}function h(e){var t=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]?arguments[1]:1;i.default.fire(window,”analytics.track”,{name:e,category:”metrics”,value:t})}function g(e,t,n){var r=n.clog,o=window.localStorage.getItem(s.HASH_KEY);(0,a.default)(e,t.cacheFirst,{clog:r}).then(function(e){d(o===e.contentHash?”unchanged”:”fresh”,{clog:r}),h(“cacheFirstPageView”)}).catch(function(){d(“cached”,{clog:r}),h(“cacheFirstPageView”),r(“CACHED PAGE VIEW”),navigator.serviceWorker.addEventListener(“message”,function(e){if(e.origin===location.origin){var t=e.data;t&&”NEW_VERSION”===t.message&&t.url===location.href&&(o!==t.contentHash?(h(“stalePageView”),r(“STALE PAGE VIEW”)):(h(“cachedPageView”),r(“MOULDY PAGE VIEW”)))}})})}function v(e){return encodeURIComponent(e||””)}function p(){var e=arguments.length>0&&void 0!==arguments[0]?arguments[0]:””,t=arguments[1],n=document.querySelector(“link[rel=manifest]”);if(n){var r=t||n.href;return new Promise(function(t,n){caches.open(s.MANIFEST_CACHE_NAME+”:”+e).then(function(e){e.match(r).then(function(n){n?t(n):fetch(r).then(function(n){e.put(r,n.clone()),t(n.clone())})})}).catch(function(e){return n(e)})}).then(function(e){return e.json().then(function(e){return e})})}}n.default=function(e,t,n){var a=function(){};if(“serviceWorker”in navigator){try{e=JSON.parse(e)}catch(t){e=e||{}}if(!e.debug)try{e.debug=new URLSearchParams(window.location.search).get(“pwaDebug”)}catch(e){}(0,u.default)(window.indexedDB,e,n);var s=”/service-worker.js?v=100b60c9b16539f18fafdc089f7ba9fc”;e.debug&&(s+=”&pwaDebug=”+e.debug,a=function(e){window.console.log(“[TM PWA] “+e)}),e.cacheFirst&&(s+=”&cacheFirst=true”),e.offlineSupport&&(s+=”&offlineSupport=true”),t&&(s=s+”&pushDisplayService=”+t+”&vap=”+v(n.vapidKey)+”&a=”+v(n.appKey)+”&t=”+v(n.token)+”&i=”+v());var l=void 0;if(e.scope&&(l={scope:e.scope}),window.sessionStorage.setItem(“swUrl”,s),navigator.serviceWorker.register(s,l).then(function(){a(“Service worker registered successfully”);var e=”n !function (n, t, c, e, u) { n function r(n) { try { f = n(u) } catch (n) { return h = n, void i(p, n) } i(s, f) } n function i(n, t) { for (var c = 0; c 2&&void 0!==arguments[2]?arguments[2]:2,r=new Date;r.setTime(r.getTime()+24*n*60*60*1e3),document.cookie=e+”=”+t+”;expires=”+r.toUTCString()+”;path=/”},n.urlBase64ToUint8Array=s.urlBase64ToUint8Array,n.validate=function(e,t){var n=t||””;if(!e)return{homepage:n};var r=void 0;try{r=JSON.parse(document.getElementById(“manifest-validation”).getAttribute(“content”))}catch(e){return null}var o=e.filter(function(e){return r.url&&r.url.includes(e.homepage)}),a=e.filter(function(e){return r.primaryTag&&r.primaryTag===e.tag}),i=e.filter(function(e){return r.tags&&r.tags.includes(e.tag)});if(1===o.length)return o[0];if(1===a.length)return a[0];if(1===i.length)return i[0];var c=e.filter(function(e){return e.scope===n});return c.length>0?c[0]:”string”==typeof t?{homepage:t}:void 0},n.MANIFEST_CACHE_NAME=s.MANIFEST_CACHE_NAME},{1:1,10:10,4:4,5:5,7:7,8:8}],10:[function(e,t,n){“use strict”;Object.defineProperty(n,”__esModule”,{value:!0});var r=/(.*/amp/.*|.*.amp)/g,o=”TM-Hash-“+location.href,a=”TM-Date-“+location.href;n.CACHE_KEY=”marwood-5f6ee1c5f4c7412c21f595d454e4dc4f”,n.CACHE_NAME=”marwood”,n.MANIFEST_CACHE_NAME=”manifestCache”,n.urlBase64ToUint8Array=function(e){for(var t=(e+”=”.repeat((4-e.length%4)%4)).replace(/-/g,”+”).replace(/_/g,”https://www.mirror.co.uk/”),n=atob(t),r=new Uint8Array(n.length),o=0;o<n.length;++o)r[o]=n.charCodeAt(o);return r},n.isAmpArticle=function(e){return e.match(r)},n.HASH_PREFIX="TM-Hash",n.HASH_KEY=o,n.DATE_KEY=a,n.PUSH_SERVICE_KEY="airship",n.PUSH_SERVICE_SCRIPT="https://aswpsdkus.com/notify/v1/ua-sdk.min.js",n.getAssetUrl=function(e){return e&&e.replace?e.replace("prod",function(e){return/-bertha./.test(e)?"bertha":/-stable./.test(e)?"stable":"prod"}(self.location)):e},n.path=function(e,t){if(e&&t){var n=e.split?e.split("."):e;if(n.reduce)return n.reduce(function(e,t){return e&&e[t]?e[t]:void 0},t)}},n.externalDebug=function(e,t){t&&localStorage.removeItem("airship");var n=JSON.parse(localStorage.getItem("airship")||"[]");e.length&&n.push(e),localStorage.setItem("airship",JSON.stringify(n))}},{}]},{},[3]);
//# sourceMappingURL=pwa.min.js.map

Source link

Jul 032020
 

Over one million people from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) have been forced to seek refuge in neighboring countries since the beginning of 2020, according to a report by the UN’s refugee agency, the UNHCR.

The agency said that a total of 5 million people have so far been uprooted from DR Congo. According to the report, DR Congo has one of the highest rates of internal displacement in the world.

Earlier this week, Uganda temporarily reopened two border crossing points to take in 1,500 asylum-seekers from DR Congo.

The UNHCR said that it had recorded several events of killing, mutilation, sexual violence and looting in the country in the last eight weeks. “UNHCR and its partners have recorded multiple attacks by armed groups on displacement sites and villages”, said the report.

The agency urged the authorities in DR Congo to “improve the security situation and hold the perpetrators accountable”.

Brutal attacks, low funding

The UNHCR said that on June 17 and 18, five people in the Djugu Territory were beheaded with machetes and over 150 houses were set on fire by an armed group. On June 23, about 5,000 people were displaced from their homes in the North Kivu province due to fighting between two armed groups.

Displaced people in a refugee camp in the Ituri province of DR Congo

The agency said that medical care provisions were getting affected by the attacks. It added that most assaults were conducted by armed groups and, allegedly, by the security services of DR Congo.

The UNHCR appealed for more funding for its DR Congo operations in its report. The agency has received just 21% of the budget required for its operations in DR Congo.

am/ng (AFP, Reuters)

document.addEventListener(“DOMContentLoaded”, function (event) {
if (DWDE.dsgvo.isStoringCookiesOkay()) {
facebookTracking();
}
});
function facebookTracking() {
!function (f, b, e, v, n, t, s) {
if (f.fbq) return;
n = f.fbq = function () {
n.callMethod ?
n.callMethod.apply(n, arguments) : n.queue.push(arguments)
};
if (!f._fbq) f._fbq = n;
n.push = n;
n.loaded = !0;
n.version = ‘2.0’;
n.queue = [];
t = b.createElement(e);
t.async = !0;
t.src = v;
s = b.getElementsByTagName(e)[0];
s.parentNode.insertBefore(t, s)
}(window, document, ‘script’,
‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/fbevents.js’);
fbq(‘init’, ‘157204581336210’);
fbq(‘track’, ‘ViewContent’);
}

Credit: Deutsche Welle

Jul 032020
 

The Leaky Cauldron and Mugglenet — two of the biggest fan sites of the Harry Potter series — have distanced themselves from the author of the series. The websites cited J.K. Rowling’s recent statements on transgender people for the move. The fan sites together have over 1 million followers on Facebook.

The sitessaid that Rowling had expressed “harmful and disproven” beliefs about the transgender community. The site found “the use of her influence and privilege to target marginalized people” to be out of step with “the message of acceptance and empowerment” in the Harry Potter books.

“Our stance is firm: Transgender women are women. Transgender men are men. Non-binary people are non-binary. Intersex people exist and should not be forced to live in the binary. We stand with Harry Potter fans in these communities, and while we don’t condone the mistreatment JKR has received, we must reject her beliefs,” The Leaky Cauldron said on its website.

The fan sites said they would no longer publish announcements of Rowling’s personal achievements, including those related to her charity, Lumos; her photos or quotes (unless newsworthy) on the Wizarding World she has created, nor provide links to her personal website.

The Leaky Cauldron also gave its users from the transgender community the option to mute Twitter posts they find offensive.

Rowling’s controversial ‘transphobic’ beliefs 

Rowling created a furor on Twitter last month when she sent out a series of tweets around gender and sex — which led to several users labeling her “transphobic” or a trans-exclusionary radical feminist (TERF). 

Rowling also attracted ire over her comments on biological sex. The author said, “Erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives.”

The sites said they did not condone attacks on Rowling but rejected her beliefs

The author later published a blog post defending her right to speak about trans issues and wrote about her history of sexual abuse in an attempt to add context to her previous comments.

“When you throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he’s a woman — and, as I’ve said, gender confirmation certificates may now be granted without any need for surgery or hormones — then you open the door to any and all men who wish to come inside,” wrote Rowling in her post.

While emphasizing safety and basic rights for transgender people, Rowling also said she had been disproportionately targeted by trans activists.

“I refuse to bow down to a movement that I believe is doing demonstrable harm in seeking to erode ‘woman’ as a political and biological class and offering cover to predators like few before it,” she wrote.

Emma Watson and Danielle Radcliffe, two stars of the Harry Potter film franchise, expressed support for transgender rights, distancing themselves from Rowling’s views.

“To all the people who now feel that their experience of the books has been tarnished or diminished, I am deeply sorry for the pain these comments have caused you,” said Radcliffe.

DW sends out a daily selection of the day’s news and features. Sign up here.

document.addEventListener(“DOMContentLoaded”, function (event) {
if (DWDE.dsgvo.isStoringCookiesOkay()) {
facebookTracking();
}
});
function facebookTracking() {
!function (f, b, e, v, n, t, s) {
if (f.fbq) return;
n = f.fbq = function () {
n.callMethod ?
n.callMethod.apply(n, arguments) : n.queue.push(arguments)
};
if (!f._fbq) f._fbq = n;
n.push = n;
n.loaded = !0;
n.version = ‘2.0’;
n.queue = [];
t = b.createElement(e);
t.async = !0;
t.src = v;
s = b.getElementsByTagName(e)[0];
s.parentNode.insertBefore(t, s)
}(window, document, ‘script’,
‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/fbevents.js’);
fbq(‘init’, ‘157204581336210’);
fbq(‘track’, ‘ViewContent’);
}

Credit: Deutsche Welle

Jul 032020
 

Dhaka, Bangladesh
Thomson Reuters Foundation

A start-up that helps rural Bangladeshi owners of home solar power systems trade their surplus electricity with their neighbours won an international award for climate change innovation Thursday.

SOLshare, set up in 2014, aims to stem the waste of more than a billion dollars in energy each year when home battery storage systems connected to solar panels reach capacity and excess solar power generated goes unused, its officials said.

Solar panels in Indiana in the US. PICTURE: Chelsea/Unsplash

Bangladesh is one of the world’s leaders in solar home systems for off-grid communities, with more than five million of the systems now in place.

“We have created a device that can share the surplus energy and help people earn money for it,” said Salma Islam, a project manager at SOLshare, based in Dhaka.

“We have created a device that can share the surplus energy and help people earn money for it.”

– Salma Islam, a project manager at SOLshare.

Using an electronic unit installed alongside their solar system, owners can transfer excess energy into a local power “microgrid” created with other SOLshare users, allowing those who need more power to buy it and cutting waste.

“If someone puts the device on automode it will automatically start selling energy once its [battery is] full,” Islam said.

Homes that can’t afford to buy solar panels also can buy electric power through the system, which Thursday won an award for innovation in energy access from Ashden, a British charity that works to scale up climate-smart energy solutions.

Bangladesh’s government, which aims to boost its use of renewable energy to 10 per cent of electrical power demand by next year, said it saw SOLshare’s device as a useful part of the push.

“We welcome this,” said Mohammad Alauddin, chairman of Bangladesh’s Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority, lauding the company’s grassroots focus.

He said the country is exploring a range of ways to improve access to solar energy, from adding more rooftop panels to installing some solar panels on floats on water bodies.

Bangladesh, however, also plans to build new coal-based power plants over the next two decades, which are likely to dramatically boost its dependence on highly polluting coal, according to environment groups.

The country’s main source of energy is natural gas but reserves are dwindling, according to its government.

Cheap solar
SOLshare officials said they have set up 27 “microgrids” in communities that have installed their devices across Bangladesh. A majority of their roughly 3,000 customers – most of them farmers – earn less than $US5 a day, they said.

Previously, many users who couldn’t afford a basic solar home system relied on polluting and expensive fuels like kerosene or on diesel generators, the company said.

SOLshare has helped cut use of such fuels, while expanding access to electricity for those who lack it, according to Ashden.

“SOLshare is a true pioneer, creating neighbourhood networks of energy. Their peer-to-peer solar grid system means that no solar energy is wasted. It’s putting electricity into…hard-to-reach rural communities,” said Harriet Lamb, the CEO of Ashden.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced thousands of Bangladeshis to return to their villages from cities, causing a spike in electricity use in some of SOLshare’s microgrids, company representatives said.

To help ease the burden on hard-hit families, the company decided to temporarily remove the small surcharge normally levied on sellers of power, Islam said.

With some charitable funding the company also has supplied medical packages to rural communities and plans to deliver sewing machines to garment workers who lost their city jobs, she said.

The company is in talks with the United Nation’s refugee agency to create similar microgrids in the world’s largest refugee settlement in Cox’s Bazar, home to more than 800,000 ethnic Rohingya refugees who fled persecution in Myanmar.

The company is also in talks with the United Nation’s refugee agency to create similar microgrids in the world’s largest refugee settlement in Cox’s Bazar, home to more than 800,000 ethnic Rohingya refugees who fled persecution in Myanmar.

SOLshare officials said they hope to scale up their business to allow at least 100,000 Bangladeshis to share solar power over the next five years.

The aim is to help people “live by using what is already there” and to harness “existing and underutilised resources”, said Sebastian Groh, the CEO of SOLshare.

One of those who has benefitted from the technology is Bimal Krishna Das, 40, whose said his pharmacy business in Barisal, about 250 kilometres from Dhaka, had taken a hit from the coronavirus pandemic.

By selling electricity, he said, he was able to raise extra funds he desperately needed.

“It’s such a relief to have some extra money in your pocket during this crisis,” he said.

 

!function(f,b,e,v,n,t,s)
{if(f.fbq)return;n=f.fbq=function(){n.callMethod?
n.callMethod.apply(n,arguments):n.queue.push(arguments)};
if(!f._fbq)f._fbq=n;n.push=n;n.loaded=!0;n.version=’2.0′;
n.queue=[];t=b.createElement(e);t.async=!0;
t.src=v;s=b.getElementsByTagName(e)[0];
s.parentNode.insertBefore(t,s)}(window,document,’script’,
‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/fbevents.js’);
fbq(‘init’, ‘1904680989624133’);
fbq(‘track’, ‘PageView’);
(function(d, s, id) {
var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];
if (d.getElementById(id)) return;
js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;
js.src = “https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/all.js#xfbml=1”;
fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);
}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));

Source link

Jul 022020
 

An American Navy combat ship this week conducted “routine operations” near a Chinese geological survey ship in the South China Sea, U.S. officials said, after the Chinese vessel in June entered an area where Vietnam has shown interest in exploring for oil.

The maneuvers in waters around the Spratly Islands echoed events off the north coast of Malaysian Borneo in April, when a Chinese survey vessel and a fleet of China Coast Guard (CCG) ships shadowed Malaysian oil exploration efforts, in an apparent bid to deter the smaller nation from exploiting resources in the disputed waters. That incident prompted the U.S. Navy to send littoral combat ships near the site of the survey on three occasions.

The U.S. Seventh Fleet on Thursday tweeted that the USS Gabrielle Giffords was performing “routine ops” in the South China Sea, and published a photo showing the littoral combat ship near a Chinese ship, which the post identified as the Hai Yang Di Zhi 4 Hao. In another photo released by the navy, a ship that appears to belong to the Vietnamese coast guard is visible along with the Giffords and the Hai Yang 4.

In mid-June, the survey ship sailed into waters in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), in an apparent bid to pressure Hanoi out of exploring for oil with international partners in certain oil blocks off the country’s southeastern coast.

The ship left on June 20, but vessel tracking software used by RFA and its affiliate BenarNews shows that the Hai Yang 4 was roughly 205 nautical miles (330 km) from Vietnam’s coast on Tuesday – the last day it was transmitting its location.

China is known for sending survey ships into disputed waters or other claimants’ exclusive economic zones to pressure those countries out of resource exploration.

From April 15 to May 15, China sent the Hai Yang 8 – a sister ship to the Hai Yang 4 – into Malaysia’s EEZ, along with an escort fleet of Chinese coast-guard ships. The Hai Yang 8 performed a survey well-within Malaysian waters, and right near a Malaysian-contracted drillship called the West Capella, which was exploring for oil there.

That incident led to the U.S. Navy deploying combat ships near the area at least three times.

“The Chinese Communist Party must end its pattern of bullying Southeast Asians out of offshore oil, gas, and fisheries. Millions of people in the region depend on those resources for their livelihood,” said Adm. John Aquilino in a press release on one such occasion.

The West Capella suspended its operations early on May 12, and the Hai Yang 8 left shortly after.

China maintains that any resource exploration in the South China Sea, which Beijing claims almost entirely, must be done with Chinese partners instead of international companies. Beijing has also taken this position during negotiations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to create a Code of Conduct for governing behavior in the sea’s disputed waters.

On June 13, Spanish company Repsol ceded its stakes in three Vietnamese oil blocks to the state-run oil company, PetroVietnam, citing its inability to work under conditions of a territorial conflict, according to Archyde, a Spanish oil and gas blog. Repsol halted work in those blocks in 2018 due to Chinese pressure.

Two days earlier, Vietnamese state media announced that U.S. company ExxonMobil would invest in Vietnam’s energy sector, after a phone call between Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and ExxonMobil senior executive Irtiza Sayyed. Daniel Kritenbrink, the U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam reportedly told VnExpress on June 23 that the U.S. would support commercial energy projects between U.S. companies and Vietnam.

Additional reporting and editing by BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service.

(function(d, s, id) {
var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];
if (d.getElementById(id)) return;
js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;
js.src = “https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.0”;
fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);
}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));

Credit: Radio Free Asia

Jul 022020
 

A massive landslide at a jade mine in northern Myanmar Thursday buried more than 200 scavengers, killing at least 162 and injuring at least 54 others, rescue volunteers said, in the latest disaster in an industry plagued by corruption and lack of government oversight.

Heavy rains brought small mountains piles of loose dirt and rubble on the scavengers, creating a “lake of mud” full of bodies early Thursday morning in Kachin State’s Hpakant township, the site of repeated illegal mine tragedies killing scores of people each year.

“It has been raining non-stop, day and night here in Hpakant all this week,” Shwe Thein, chairman of the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party’s office in the township, told RFA.

“There are weak spots in the soil near Whey Khar village. They collapsed during the heavy rains,” he said.

Local fire officials said poor weather was slowing rescue work.

“The rescue operations are delayed by the heavy rains here. There is a risk of more landslides, so we paused our operations,” La Jon, deputy head of the Hpakant township Fire Department, told RFA’s Myanmar Service.

The scavengers, or yemase as they are known locally, are among Myanmar’s poorest citizens. They come from all over the country to sift through rubble dumped by the mining companies for discarded jade stones.

Volunteer rescue workers described a hellish scene as they toiled in the mud to try to recover the scavengers’ bodies and find survivors.

“The bodies are buried in the lake of mud. We are using the lifebuoys and boats to recover [them],” Saw Linn, a volunteer from Thin Khar, a local humanitarian group, told RFA.

“We cover the recovered bodies with plastic and transport them to the clinics. Many bodies are still under the water,” said Saw Linn.

Zaw Moe Htet, a Hpakant-based journalist, told RFA the rescue vehicles   were struggling to reach the disaster site in poor road conditions.

“The whole area has been turned into muddy ponds by the heavy rains. There is also a risk of further collapses,” he said.

“The vehicles to carry the bodies cannot come close to the collapse site. Rescuers went [on foot] down into the pit. They are manually carrying the recovered bodies about a furlong [1/8 mile] and putting them on the ground in the plastic,” said Zaw Moe Htet.

“They need to carry these bodies farther to a place where vehicles can reach,” the journalist said.

As of Thursday night local time, 162 bodies had been recovered and 54 injured people were sent to a hospital in nearby Whey Khar village.

According to the Kachin State government, official mining activities were suspended for three months starting Wednesday due to the increased risk of mudslides.

“But we cannot stop the jade scavengers who came to collect valuable stones at the site,” Darshi Lasai, of the state’s Natural Resource and Conservation Ministry told RFA.

“The mining companies use explosives, which have weakened the soil. That’s what caused these landslides,” the ministry official said.

Mining law

Fatal landslides and mudslides at mining sites in the Hpakant area are common, as mining companies have not been held accountable by law.

According to the records of NLD party’s township office, at least 137 people were killed in seven landslides and rubble pile collapses in Hpakant Township last year.  In November 2015 a similar collapse of jade mining waste piles killed 116 scavengers and left 100 missing and presumed dead.

According to Darshi Lasai, the state government does not have jurisdiction over the mining companies, as their plots are granted and administered by the central Union government.

“We are only coordinating on the [Union government’s] instructions here on the ground. We cannot give orders to these companies. We can only recommend that they be more careful in their mining activities,” said Darshi Lasai.

The London-based anti-corruption NGO Global Witness said the multi-billion dollar mining sector in Myanmar is run by companies linked to the country’s military, enabling them to skirt government scrutiny.

A member of Myanmar’s parliament representing Kachin said that legislation to regulate mining practices has been bogged down by red tape.

“It is very difficult to administer mining activities because there are over a thousand excavators digging in such a small area in Kpakant,” said MP Khin Maung Myint.

“There is a [gemstone] law to govern mining activities. It was finished drafting in 2017. It was submitted and discussed at the parliament for over a year in 2018. But only in 2019 was the law was approved signing by the president,” the MP added.

But despite being passed, that law has yet to be implemented, he said

Anti-corruption

Global Witness condemned the Myanmar government’s failure to prevent “reckless and irresponsible mining practices” – saying the NLD has not yet enacted reforms to the mining sector that it promised upon coming to power nearly five years ago.

Despite the Gemstone Law’s passage in 2019, the sector remains “corrupt,” the NGO said.

“The government has turned a blind eye to continued illicit and rapacious mining practices in Hpakant despite vowing to reform the hazardous sector,” said Paul Donowitz, campaign leader at Global Witness.

“The longer the government waits to introduce rigorous reforms of the jade sector, the more lives will be lost. This was an entirely preventable tragedy that should serve as an urgent wake-up call for the government,” he added.

Up to 90 percent of the world’s jadeite is mined in Hpakant, and most of ends up for sale in China, where it is prized for jewelry, researchers say.

Reported by Zarni Htun for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Ye Kaung Myint Maung. Written in English by Eugene Whong.

(function(d, s, id) {
var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];
if (d.getElementById(id)) return;
js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;
js.src = “https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.0”;
fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);
}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));

Credit: Radio Free Asia

Jul 022020
 

The British High Court ruled on Thursday that Venezuela’s president, Nicolas Maduro, could not take control of over $1 billion (€890 million) in gold that his government has held in a Bank of England vault.

High Court judge Nigel Teare handed down the ruling, saying that the UK government had “unequivocally” recognized Juan Guaido as constitutional interim president.

Since the court must accept the British government’s recognition of any foreign leader as conclusive, it cannot rule on behalf of Maduro.

“The judiciary and the executive must speak with one voice,” Teare said. “There cannot be two presidents of Venezuela.”

Venezuela’s gold reserves have long been stored at the Bank of England, which has the second-largest gold reserves in the world, behind the New York Federal Reserve.

Maduro has unsuccessfully sought to withdraw the gold from the UK since 2018, fearing that it could be caught up in international sanctions.

As the country’s economy has spiraled, the Venezuelan government has retrieved some 30 tons of its gold reserves to sell for hard currency in the past two years.

Read more: Venezuela’s love-hate relationship with the US dollar

Guaido never ‘sought the gold’

Venezuela’s Central Bank (BCV) went to court against the Bank of England, after the entity refused to release, due to the competing claim by opposition leader Guaido.

Maduro’s government had pledged that the funds raised from selling the gold would be used to import food and medicine through the UN Development Program, arguing that Venezuela desperately needed the money to deal with the economic crisis and the COVID-19 epidemic.

The BCV on Twitter called the decision “absurd” for depriving Venezuela “of the gold it urgently needs to confront the pandemic.” The bank’s lawyers have said they will appeal the decision.

For his part, Guaido called the ruling a ”great victory” for his interim government. ”The first thing is that it’s protected from the clutches of the dictatorship,” Guaido said of the gold, adding that, for now, it will remain in the bank’s vaults.

“Our intention now, as always, is to safeguard the gold of the national reserve for the Venezuelan people,” opposition envoy Vanessa Neumann told the AFP news agency. “We want to make clear that we never sought the gold.”

If the BCV’s appeal is granted the accelerated pace of the case means it could go to the London Court of Appeal in the coming weeks. If that appeal were to prove successful it would then go up the Supreme Court.

Read more: Turkey and Venezuela: The rise of a new alliance?

US goes after oil tankers

Maduro still maintains the support of key allies such as Russia, China, Iran, Turkey and Cuba. In addition to cash, the Venezuelan government is in great need of gasoline and Iran has helped supply it.

But now US prosecutors have filed a lawsuit on Wednesday to seize the gasoline aboard four tankers that Iran is shipping to Venezuela.

It is the latest attempt by US President Donald Trump’s administration to increase economic pressure on not just Venezuela, but also Iran.

A US District Judge issued a warrant for the seizure of the more than 1.1 million barrels of gasoline in four tankers that are en route to Venezuela, the Justice Department said on Thursday.

The warrant would allows US authorities, likely the US Coast Guard, to seize the fuel.

jcg/sms (AP, Reuters)

document.addEventListener(“DOMContentLoaded”, function (event) {
if (DWDE.dsgvo.isStoringCookiesOkay()) {
facebookTracking();
}
});
function facebookTracking() {
!function (f, b, e, v, n, t, s) {
if (f.fbq) return;
n = f.fbq = function () {
n.callMethod ?
n.callMethod.apply(n, arguments) : n.queue.push(arguments)
};
if (!f._fbq) f._fbq = n;
n.push = n;
n.loaded = !0;
n.version = ‘2.0’;
n.queue = [];
t = b.createElement(e);
t.async = !0;
t.src = v;
s = b.getElementsByTagName(e)[0];
s.parentNode.insertBefore(t, s)
}(window, document, ‘script’,
‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/fbevents.js’);
fbq(‘init’, ‘157204581336210’);
fbq(‘track’, ‘ViewContent’);
}

Credit: Deutsche Welle

Jul 022020
 

United States justice officials have announced their efforts to recover another U.S. $96 million in assets, including paintings by Claude Monet and Andy Warhol as well as high-end Parisian properties, purchased allegedly with money misappropriated from Malaysian fund 1MDB.

This comes as questions surround the new government in Putrajaya over whether it is serious about prosecuting cases linked to beleaguered state development fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad, including those involving former Prime Minister Najib Razak. More than $4.5 billion was embezzled from the fund founded by Najib in 2009 to jump start economic development in Malaysia, officials with the U.S. Department of Justice have alleged.

“The complaints filed today in the Central District of California identify additional assets traceable to the 2012 and 2013 bond offerings. These assets include luxury real estate in Paris, artwork by Claude Monet and Andy Warhol and accounts maintained at financial institutions in Luxembourg and Switzerland,” the DOJ said in a news release issued Wednesday.

“These seemingly endless civil forfeiture complaints associated with the 1MDB scandal are representative of the seemingly endless schemes used to hide and launder money as part of the sophisticated efforts to steal from the Malaysian people,” Don Fort, chief of the Criminal Investigation department at the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, said in the release.

Fort said the forfeiture complaints would return millions more to Malaysia.

“[W]here it belongs and where it can finally be used for its original intended purpose – to improve the lives of everyday Malaysians,” he said.

The leader of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission said he had been in touch with U.S. investigators.

“We were aware of the DOJ action before the announcement was made. We are always in contact related to 1MDB case,” MACC chief Azam Baki told BenarNews on Thursday.

He said Malaysia had established an international task force in 2018 with the U.S., Switzerland, Singapore, Canada, Luxembourg and other countries related to the 1MDB investigation in connection with international investigations into billions of dollars that went missing from the fund.

Previously, officials had said that 1MDB money was believed to have been laundered through financial institutions in several jurisdictions including several of the countries mentioned above.

Charges dropped against Najib relative

Meanwhile, Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who took office in March, and his government have been criticized for 1MDB-related issues following a decision by prosecutors to discharge criminal money-laundering charges against Najib’s stepson, Reza Aziz.

Reza who allegedly used funds to set up a film production company, Red Granite, which produced the Academy Award-nominated film “The Wolf of Wall Street,” struck a deal with the government to forfeit about $107 million of 1MDB assets.

Muhyiddin said he did not have a role in the deal.

In a blog post on June 25, Mahathir Mohamad, who succeeded Najib as prime minister in 2018 after his Pakatan Harapan coalition pulled off an election upset, alleged that Muhyiddin was planning to free Najib from all 1MDB-related charges.

“Far from fulfilling his pledge to bring down Najib, Muhyiddin is now trying to ensure Najib is exonerated from all charges and will be able to contest in the upcoming election. Najib then would no longer need Muhyiddin, because Najib himself is hoping to be the prime minister once more,” Mahathir said.

Muhyiddin took over as unelected prime minister after Mahathir resigned from the post and his government collapsed, when Muhyiddin and other MPs quit the coalition to form a new alliance with other parties including Najib’s United Malays National Organization (UMNO). Since then, Mahathir has sought to have Muhyiddin removed from the top government office.

Criminal charges

Najib, for his part, faces a total of 42 criminal counts linked to abuse of power and money laundering connected to 1MDB and a subsidiary. He could face decades in prison if convicted.

The former prime minister is awaiting a July 28 verdict on seven charges linked to a 1MDB subsidiary, SRC International, and continues to stand trial on 25 charges linked to 1MDB.

The 1MDB trial was to resume on Thursday but the Kuala Lumpur High Court agreed to Najib’s request for a delay to allow him to campaign in Chini in Pahang state to increase voter turnout in a by-election for a state government seat. The 1MDB trial is to resume July 15.

In addition, Najib is standing trial for alleged abuse of power in tampering with 1MDB audit report along with Arul Kanda Kandasamy, the fund’s former CEO.

To date the Department of Justice has turned over $620 million to Malaysia from the liquidation of assets, including $300 million in 1MDB funds surrendered by fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, and his family, according to Muhyiddin.

The subject of an international manhunt, Low faces criminal charges in Malaysia for his role in allegedly embezzling billions of dollars from 1MDB through his relationship with Najib.

(function(d, s, id) {
var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];
if (d.getElementById(id)) return;
js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;
js.src = “https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.0”;
fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);
}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));

Credit: Benar News

Jul 022020
 

The Philippines and Vietnam on Thursday separately denounced Beijing’s decision to stage naval exercises this week in contested waters of the South China Sea, saying this could deepen international tensions in the strategic waterway.

China’s launching on Wednesday of five days of drills in waters around the Paracel Islands was “highly provocative,” Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said, as he noted rising tensions stemming from Beijing’s perceived aggressiveness in the sea region.

In Hanoi, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it had lodged a diplomatic note with Beijing to complain about the drills that “seriously violate Vietnam’s sovereignty.”

The maneuvers began on Wednesday and were expected to run until Sunday. Other ship traffic was to be prohibited in the affected waters, according to Chinese state-run media and a June 27 announcement by the Maritime Safety Administration of Hainan province.

Although the Philippines has no official territorial claim in the Paracel chain, Lorenzana said the exercises would trigger “alarm bells” for all the claimants in the South China Sea, which Manila calls the West Philippine Sea.

“Well, that is very concerning. We view that with alarm,” Lorenzana told an online forum on Thursday organized by the National Defense College of the Philippines, where reporters were invited to participate.

“The Chinese can do theirs in their own territorial waters within their exclusive economic zone,” Lorenzana said, referring to naval exercises. “But if you do it here in contested areas, as I said earlier, then that’s highly provocative.”

China, Taiwan and Vietnam claim the Paracel Islands. The Philippines, for its part, claims Macclesfield Bank, which lies east of the Paracels, but which China considers part of that chain. Beijing has also included the bank as part of its administrative district named after the Paracels.

“China’s drills around the Paracel Archipelago seriously violate Vietnam’s sovereignty,” the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement issued Thursday.

The action by Beijing was also detrimental to the relationship between China and ASEAN in their efforts to negotiate a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, as well as “maintain peace, stability and cooperation” in the maritime region, the ministry said.

There was no immediate response from China’s government or state-run media to Thursday’s criticism by the Philippines and Vietnam.

Elsewhere in the sea region China, Taiwan and four members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei – have competing claims to the Spratly Islands, where Beijing has constructed artificial islands and installed military outposts on atolls.

“Amid the [COVID-19] pandemic, the tension in the West Philippine Sea continues,” the Philippine defense chief said. “Four years after the Hague ruling that favored the Philippines, the South China Sea region remains … a contested geopolitical space and a potential flashpoint.”

Lorenzana was referring to a 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration that went in Manila’s favor. President Rodrigo Duterte has never enforced that ruling, and instead has sought closer bilateral ties with China, while distancing the country from the Philippines’ traditional ally, the United States.

The Duterte administration, however, lately has been voicing its displeasure with Chinese actions in the South China Sea, and has sided with other claimant states including Vietnam. Last year, a Chinese ship sank a Filipino boat in contested waters, leaving 22 Filipino crew members floating at sea until they were rescued by a passing Vietnamese boat.

More recently, Manila protested China’s creation of two districts in the sea region and the designation of Kagitingan Reef within an administrative region it calls Nansha district.

“China is the most assertive and aggressive among the claimant states,” Lorenzana said.

“Recently, there has been a slight increase in the occurrence of incursions and harassment perpetrated by Chinese vessels – both military and civilian – against the Philippine Navy, Philippine Air Force, Philippine Coast Guard and Filipino fishermen,” he said.

Between August 2019 and early 2020, there had been nearly 20 incidents of harassment in the sea region that involved Chinese military ships, commercial boats and maritime militia, Lorenzana said.

“Weighing these events, the Philippine government believes that matters of sovereignty can be prudently solved, or best resolved in peaceful and diplomatic channels,” he said.

During an online meeting of ASEAN leaders hosted by Hanoi last week, both the Philippines and Vietnam were vocal about recent Chinese activities in the South China Sea.

“Even as our region struggles to contain COVID-19, alarming incidents in the South China Sea occurred,” Duterte said during his speech before ASEAN counterparts on June 26. “We call on parties to refrain from escalating tensions and abide by responsibilities under international law.”

(function(d, s, id) {
var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];
if (d.getElementById(id)) return;
js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;
js.src = “https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.0”;
fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);
}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));

Credit: Benar News

Jul 022020
 

Vietnamese police detained and assaulted family members of a jailed democracy activist and Christian pastor before and during U.S. Ambassador Daniel Kritenbrink’s recent visit to their district in Thanh Hoa province, the political prisoner’s wife said Wednesday.

The house arrest and beating appears to be part of an intensifying crackdown on human rights activists and dissidents six months before the Communist Party of Vietnam’s next five-yearly party congress.

Ahead of the ambassador’s visit, local police visited the Quang Xuong district home of Pastor Nguyen Trung Ton, who is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence for his involvement with the Brotherhood for Democracy dissident group.

“On June 26, officers from the Quang Yen commune police department came to my house, ordering all the family members not to go out of the home for the next few days,” Nguyen’s wife Nguyen Thi Lanh told RFA’s Vietnamese Service.

They locked the gate surrounding the house Monday night, as Kritenbrink was arriving in Quang Xuong the next day.

According to a report by Thanh Hoa Radio and Television, the ambassador was leading U.S. delegation to the northern coastal province to attend an opening ceremony for a local project supported by the embassy’s Fund for Cultural Preservation.

Nguyen Thi Lanh said that on Tuesday morning, she used pliers to break the locks so she could sell goods in the market. Police arrested her there and took her to the Quang Yen police station.

At 4:00 p.m. that day her son Nguyen Trung Trong Nghia left the home to meet his mother at the station.

She said that when her son was on his way there he was attacked by two people, believed to be plainclothes police officers.

“My son was ambushed. They blindfolded and bludgeoned my son’s head with an electric baton, causing him injury,” said Nguyen Thi Lanh.

“A police officer took my son to a health clinic for treatment then brought him back to the Quang Yen police office for booking,” she said.

“This morning, my son returned to the health clinic for more treatment. His face was swollen, and he has broken teeth,” she added.

An official at the Quang Yen police station told the family that the reason for the house arrest was because Ambassador Kritenbrink was visiting their district. The ambassador left Quang Xuong at 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, after which the police left their position at the family’s house.

RFA attempted to contact the Quang Xuong district police office for comment, but nobody answered the phone.

Pastor Nguyen Trung Ton was arrested in July 2017 on charges of “attempting to overthrow the people’s government” and was sentenced to 12 years in prison and three years of probation in April 2018.

Vietnamese authorities have in the past taken interest in the family of political prisoners with Christian affiliations meeting with U.S. diplomats.

In 2016, local police subjected Tran Thi Hong, wife of imprisoned Mennonite pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh to an intense interrogation two months after she met with U.S. diplomats to discuss religious freedom.

Estimates of the number of prisoners of conscience now held in Vietnam’s jails vary widely. New York-based Human Rights Watch said that authorities held 138 political prisoners as of October 2019, while Defend the Defenders has suggested that at least 240 are in detention, with 36 convicted last year alone.

Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Huy Le. Written in English by Eugene Whong.

(function(d, s, id) {
var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];
if (d.getElementById(id)) return;
js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;
js.src = “https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.0”;
fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);
}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));

Credit: Radio Free Asia

Jul 022020
 

FOR 23-YEAR-OLD Chinmoy Kashyap who hails from Assam, making films was a natural choice. “My father is a reputed playwright and my mother is a singer, so I developed an affinity for the world of theatre and filmmaking since my schooldays,” recalls Chinmoy, who later shifted to Mumbai and enrolled in a private film institute to learn the ropes of direction.

Kashyap has almost finished shooting his debut film, Some Sugar Please starring actors Urvi Singh, Kalpana Rao and Vijay Vikram Singh (the voice of Big Boss), with only a few montage shots remaining to be shot this month. Scripted by PV Snehal, this psychological thriller has already got the biggies like ZEE5 and Netflix interested. We had a chat with Kashyap regarding the film. Excerpts:

What is Some Sugar Please all about?

It’s a psychological thriller that deals with how a girl, who suffers from bipolar disorder, tackles the disease. It becomes all the more relevant in the context of the lockdown when we have witnessed a spike in the number of mental illness cases. In most cases, we fail to recognise the problem and try to conceal it over the fear of social rebuke. Also, in small towns and villages, there’s a taboo around mental diseases with people taking the help of the charlatans in most cases. The film has been mostly shot in Delhi with a few scenes filmed in Assam too.

Actor Urvi Singh will be seen in Kashyap’s debut film, Some Sugar Please

As an outsider in Bollywood, did you struggle?

Well, the struggle is definitely there. Since I literally knew no one in Bollywood, I had to send out a few emails to some big production houses about my film. But they never responded. It took me nine months to get a financier. But there are many success stories from Northeast, including actor Adil Hussain, singer Papon and composer Anurag Sethi. So, one must not lose hope and work hard.

Chinmoy Kashyap

What kind of films do you want to make, and is there any film you currently are working on?

I want to make psychological thrillers and romcoms. Recently, there were cases of mob-lynching by the moral police in Assam, and I plan to make a film around it. I have already started writing the script.

Do you think the lockdown and post-COVID-19 period will be tough for young Indie filmmakers?

On the contrary, the lockdown has thrown open more avenues for small production houses who are creating interesting content for the OTT platforms, where there’s no nepotism or pressure from the producers. Movie theatres won’t attract the kind of audience it did, and that will make OTT platforms even more popular media.

sharmishtha.g@newindianexpress.com

@sharmidas

Source link