DONALD TRUMP CELEBRATES DIWALI IN OVAL OFFICE

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump has hailed the…
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 President Donald Trump celebrated Diwali along with the  contributions of Indian-Americans to science, medicine, business and education in the country as he celebrated his first Diwali at the White House.

Trump was joined by senior Indian-American members of his administration including Nikki Haley, his Ambassador to the United Nations and Seema Verma Administrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Ajit Pai, Chairman of the US Federal Communications Commission and Raj Shah, his Principal Deputy Press Secretary also joined Diwali celebrations.

President Donald Trump hailed the extraordinary contributions of Indian-Americans to science, medicine, business and education in the country as he celebrated his first Diwali at the White House.

 

 

‘As we do (celebrate Diwali) so, we especially remember the People of India, the home of the Hindu faith, who have built the world’s largest democracy,’ Trump said in a Facebook post along with a video of his Diwali celebrations inside the Oval Office.

Trump said he greatly valued his ‘very strong relationship’ with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Trump said he was deeply honoured to be joined by so many administration officials and leaders of the Indian-American community in celebrating Diwali — the festival of lights.

The president’s daughter Ivanka also joined him in celebrations, according to a picture released by the White House.

In his remarks, Trump said Indian-American neighbours and friends have made incredible contributions to the country — and to the world.

‘You have made extraordinary contributions to art, science, medicine, business and education. America is especially thankful for its many Indian-American citizens who serve BRAVELY in our armed forces and as first responders in communities throughout our great land,’ he said.

‘Today, we proudly celebrate this holiday in THE PEOPLE’S HOUSE. In so doing, we reaffirm that Indian-Americans and Hindu-Americans are truly cherished, treasured and beloved members of our great American family,’ Trump added.

Diwali, he said, is one of the most important celebrations in the Hindu religion.

‘A time of peace and prosperity for the New Year, it is a tradition that is held dear by more than 1 billion Hindus worldwide and more than 2 million Hindus in the United States. It is also celebrated by millions of Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jains in America, India and around the world,’ he said.

The tradition of Diwali celebration at the White House was first started by President George Bush.

During his term it was celebrated mostly in the India Treaty Room of the adjacent executive office building, which is part of the White House complex.

Bush never personally participated in the White House Diwali celebrations. In the first year of his presidency, former president Barack Obama lit the ceremonial Diya in the East Room of the White House.

In his last year in office in 2016, Obama for the first time observed the festival of lights in the Oval Office.

Catalan autonomy in fix

Spanish prime minister and the deputy prime minister have said that the government is prepared to apply Article 155 of the Constitution and temporarily suspend the autonomy of the Catalan region in the north east of the country.

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Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government has threatened to apply the measure unless Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont clarifies by 10 a.m. (0800 GMT) on Thursday whether or not he declared the independence of the region on Oct. 10 and to retract that declaration if that is indeed the case.

A first deadline passed on Monday with Puigdemont sending a letter to Rajoy asking for dialogue, but without clarifying the situation. Catalan government spokesman Jordi Turull said on Tuesday that Puigdemont would “not alter” his current position but would again offer a dialogue to Rajoy on Thursday.

Speaking in the Control Session of the Spanish Congress on Wednesday morning, Rajoy insisted that was not enough. “Tomorrow ends the time required for Puigdemont. He has the opportunity to make clear whether or not he declared independence,” Rajoy said.

Rajoy then said if a reply was not forthcoming, his government had “the obligation to defend the rights of all Spanish people.”

Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said that unless Puigdemont attended to the question, “it will mean Article 155 is applied … We will always apply the Spanish Constitution and applying Article 155 is applying the Constitution,” she added.

The Catalan region held an independence referendum on Oct. 1. The referendum was ruled illegal by the Spanish Constitutional Court on Tuesday and described as “one of the biggest affronts to the Spanish Constitution from a regional parliament.”

China:19th CPC National Congress

China, 19th congress Wednesday to elect new leadership for the party and the nation.

Socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era.

The CPC has given shape to the Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, a long-term guide to action that the Party must adhere to and develop.

The Thought builds on and further enriches Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, the Theory of Three Represents, and the Scientific Outlook on Development. It represents the latest achievement in adapting Marxism to the Chinese context.

CPC has drawn up a two-stage development plan for the period from 2020 to the middle of the 21st century to develop China into a “great modern socialist country.”

In the first stage from 2020 to 2035, the CPC will build on the foundation created by the moderately prosperous society with a further 15 years of hard work to see that socialist modernization is basically realized.

In the second stage from 2035 to the middle of the 21st century, the CPC will, building on having basically achieved modernization, work hard for a further 15 years and develop China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful.

The principal contradiction facing Chinese society has evolved to be that between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people’s ever-growing needs for a better life.

Now the needs to be met for the people to live a better life are increasingly broad. Not only have their material and cultural needs grown, their demands for democracy, rule of law, fairness and justice, security, and a better environment are increasing.

 CPC has drawn up a two-stage development plan for the period from 2020 to the middle of the 21st century to develop China into a “great modern socialist country.”

In the first stage from 2020 to 2035, the CPC will build on the foundation created by the moderately prosperous society with a further 15 years of hard work to see that socialist modernization is basically realized.

In the second stage from 2035 to the middle of the 21st century, the CPC will, building on having basically achieved modernization, work hard for a further 15 years and develop China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful.

The principal contradiction facing Chinese society has evolved to be that between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people’s ever-growing needs for a better life.

Now the needs to be met for the people to live a better life are increasingly broad. Not only have their material and cultural needs grown, their demands for democracy, rule of law, fairness and justice, security, and a better environment are increasing.

China will not close its door to the world; it will only become more and more open.

China will implement the system of pre-establishment national treatment plus a negative list across the board.

China will significantly ease market access and protect the legitimate rights and interests of foreign investors.

In a speech lasting nearly three and half hours at the opening ceremony held at the Great Hall of the People, Xi said China will become a country that “leads the world in terms of the composite national strength and international influence.” He appeared to be cementing the foundation of his administration for a second term by laying out a medium- to long-term vision.

Xi said “historic shifts” have taken place in the positions of the party and the country over the past five years. He cited stronger national defense as a result of military reforms, stronger party discipline thanks to a crackdown on corruption, and economic reforms, as major accomplishments. He said his administration has “actively promoted the construction of man-made islands in the South China Sea.”

Warsaw withdraws IMF’s credit line FCL

Warsaw will withdraw from the International Monetary Fund’s precautionary Flexible Credit Line (FCL) worth billions of dollars, according to the country’s finance ministry.

“We are resigning from a $9.2 billion credit line from the IMF. The Polish economy is in such a good situation that we can do it,” the ministry quoted Finance Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Twitter.

The country’s budget posted a record surplus of $1.36 billion for the period from January to August as a result of a steep rise in revenue from value-added tax. Economic growth was almost four percent.

“I have taken the decision to quit the FCL after an analysis of tax data, macroeconomic parameters, assessment of our budget stability and currency reserves,” Morawiecki was cited as saying.In January, the Executive Board of the IMF approved a two-year arrangement for Poland worth about €8.2 billion at that time.

The fund said the credit line would “provide valuable insurance against external shocks.”

“A possible growth slowdown and banking sector stress in the euro area could have significant spillovers via trade, financial, and confidence channels,” said the IMF

: Rezygnujemy z $9,2mld linii kredytowej Polska gospodarka jest w tak dobrej sytuacji, że możemy to zrobić.

Translate from Polish

Norway’s Saga Energy 2.5 bn-euro deal with Iran’s Amin Energy Developers

Norwegian solar company Saga Energy signed a deal to invest 2.5 billion euros in the country over the next five years with Iran Amin Energy Developers.

  ने रीट्वीट किया

🇳🇴Saga Energy just signed contract worth €2.5 billion with 🇮🇷Amin to build 2GW of solar power in .

“Norway is fully committed to the JCPOA (nuclear deal) and this is proof that we have taken the opening very seriously, and we will see more investment very soon,” Norwegian ambassador Lars Nordrum told AFP.

He was hosting the signing at his residence in Tehran between Norway´s Saga Energy, which will work with Iran´s Amin Energy Developers to install two gigawatts of solar panels in multiple sites around the central desert region.

It comes just days after Trump gave a bellicose speech, imposing further sanctions on Iran and calling for European allies to curb their financial dealings with the country.

The new solar project is being financed by a consortium of European private and state investors, and backed by a sovereign guarantee from the government of Iran.

“We hope to build a factory in Iran to build the panels so that we are also generating jobs,” said Saga´s development manager Gaute Steinkopf at the signing.

“I´d like to thank Norway, which has always been one of the best friends to Iran, for this exciting opportunity,” said Saeid Zakeri, head of international affairs for Amin.

Media agencies

Portugal Int-Min:Constanca Urbano de Sousa resigns

Portugal’s Interior Minister Constanca Urbano de Sousa resigns after fires killed over a hundred people, government says .dailysabah reports.

Portugal’s Interior Minister Constanca Urbano de Sousa resigned from her post after fires killed more than a hundred people in the country’s two worst disasters of recent times, the government said on Wednesday.

The minister said in her resignation letter that after the fires of recent days “I considered that I didn’t have the political and personal conditions to continue in my post.”

Overnight rain and calmer winds have helped firefighters tame a spate of deadly wildfires that broke out over the weekend, devouring homes and killing 41 people in Portugal and another four in northern Spain.

Portugal’s civil protection agency said Tuesday that the 15 biggest fires, which had raged through the center and the north of the country, had been brought under control, but that the death toll had risen.

“We’ve gone from 37 dead to 41,” civil protection agency spokeswoman Patricia Gaspar told AFP.

As the country began three days of mourning for the victims, the agency said 71 people had been injured in the fires, 16 of them seriously. And one person was still missing.

Why China blinked in Doklam standoff

Vinod Saighal | October 18, 2017 3:58 am

What really compelled China to de-escalate in Doklam? First, let us examine the reasons that have been cited in the public domain since the pull-back some weeks ago. After weeks of raising the decibel level the government in Beijing realised that building the road up to the Jampheri Ridge was considered an existential threat by India due to its proximity to the Siliguri corridor and hence India was unlikely to budge; the coming 19th CPC meeting in November 2017 later on in the year and the BRICS meeting at Xiamen.

In the last case it is possible that Putin advised his counterpart that without the participation of the Indian Prime Minister the summit would not measure up to expectation, considerably embarrassing the host country. Since Russia had maintained studied silence throughout the Doklam confrontation, the Russian President’s advice would have been taken in good faith. Had BRICS become a damp squib it would have hurt the Chinese President’s image.

A few other allied reasons had also been discussed threadbare in the print and electronic media. Going beyond the confrontation and the peaceful pullback and, with the passage of time, it becomes possible to deduce the deeper reasons for the Chinese backing down, which in the public perception amounted to loss of face.

The more cogent reasons are briefly discussed in the ensuing paragraphs. More than 70 days had already elapsed since the start of the confrontation. There were no signs of India backing down. Overblown rhetoric followed by threats in case India did not pull back had reached such a crescendo that had the confrontation continued much longer the agitated Chinese public would have mounted intense pressure for action that the government would have found it difficult to resist because in confrontations with other countries never had the Chinese gone so far as to tell its adversary that the latter would be taught a lesson it would not forget.

For the countries of the region watching the situation apprehensively China would have appeared to be a paper tiger. On the other hand the masterly way in which India handled the situation by not matching the Chinese rhetoric gave the impression of quiet confidence that would normally result from a position of strength.

The perception of ‘position of strength’, according to informed sources reporting from Beijing led to re-appraisal within the PLA, CMC as well as the top government echelons. The de novo re-assessment led to considerable doubt and misgivings about the outcome in case China went on to physically evict the Indian troops from their positions. It was realised that without military action the Indian side was not going to budge.

Over the years the Chinese government had come to believe, as had the Indian defence establishment, that military asymmetry with China was too formidable for India to risk military confrontation. The asymmetry since China’s accelerated growth had already been high enough to cause concern. Added to it was the fact that with much higher GDP and military budget the asymmetry would keep growing. The perception was shared by countries of ASEAN and East Asia, even beyond.

This was generally the larger picture prior to the confrontation. It led to the belief in corridors of Beijing that beyond a point, with the nature of threats that amounted to an ultimatum, India had no choice but to withdraw from the Doklam Plateau. The deeper analysis mentioned in the previous paragraph when reduced from the macro-perception to the situation on the border in the face of India’s intransigence showed up the chinks in the Chinese armour that could have resulted in a debacle for the Chinese forces. An elaboration follows:

·        The undeniable macro-level asymmetry simply would not work out on any border conflagration with India. China’s overall military strength was that of a growing superpower attempting to match the US military power, if not globally, certainly in the South China Sea, East Asia and in the Pacific. Comparatively, over the years India had quietly built up its strength on its vulnerable border to a level that it felt confident of being able to take on anything that the Chinese would field against them. Several mountain divisions had been raised to reinforce the Arunachal Pradesh border that China had begun to claim since 2005, never before that. Simultaneously a mountain strike corps had commenced raising that although not fully operational for another two years or so had the potential for a limited repost of a type that India never had before. In sum India would have successfully blunted any offensive.

Coming down to the level of the actual fighting most of the factors operative on the ground favoured India. Firstly, in the mountains missiles and other offensive weapons of the type were insufficient to dislodge the Indian troops. Commanders who have operated on those heights know that mountains eat up men. The only way to dislodge the opponent is to have much larger force for dislodging men in strong defensive positions with well-coordinated fire. The Indian side was sure that in hand-to-hand fighting at those altitudes the Indian soldier would be more than a match for the opponent. There are several reasons for such confidence.

The Chinese have not fought any major land war for 38 years. On the Indian side there have been confrontations on the borders with its Western adversary very frequently, sometimes on a daily basis. Besides the Indian soldiers had proved their mettle against heavy odds in the Kargil War where the advantage lay with the opponent.

Another important factor that is overlooked is morale and motivation. For the Indian soldier these are very high because they are fighting for their motherland. Not so the Chinese soldier. The Chinese border with India came into being after the occupation of Tibet a bare 70 years ago. After another century if Tibet were to remain under occupation the feeling may become different. Currently for the Chinese soldier Tibet’s border with India is not motherland. The motivational difference always matters in close fighting.

Coming back the to the individual Chinese soldier located thousands of miles from his home there is further loss of motivation due to the one-child policy that has been in vogue for several decades. Being a single child fighting well away from home and worrying about his aged parents the motivation can never match the adversary confronting him with determination.

To sum it up the situation appears to have ended by considerably discomfiting the Chinese leadership with the attendant loss of face within China and beyond its borders in neighbouring countries. It resulted from a series of miscalculations that need not be gone into in depth in the current paper. Briefly, the Chinese had not anticipated the Indian reaction on Bhutanese territory and the latter’s call to India. Over the decades the Chinese leadership had become accustomed to the fact that when pushed very hard the Indian leadership would step back.

It had happened so often in recent years that the leaders in Beijing did not give it a second thought. Had they pondered a while before aggravating the crisis – by raising the decibel level that made it difficult for them to de-escalate – they would have realized that India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi was cast in a different mould.

A last thought in this episode that must have crossed some minds at the highest level in Beijing would have been India’s military position in Sikkim (this writer had briefly commanded the East Sikkim watershed in 1991), which overlooks the Doklam Plateau. It is so formidable that any conventional military misadventure instead of resulting in 1962 could well have resulted in another 1979. That conceivably could have been the end of the Chinese leader’s dream of a long tenure at the apex.

(The writer, a retired Major-General of the Indian Army is the author of Third Millennium Equipoise.)