News Wrap


As expected, the AAP win created ripples across the country. In remarks clearly aimed at Modi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who had asked people in Delhi to vote for the AAP, said it was a "big defeat for the arrogant".

"This is a victory for the people and a big defeat for the arrogant and those who are doing political vendetta and spreading hate... The election is a turning point... The country needed this change".

Gandhian Anna Hazare added: "The result is a defeat for Narendra Modi. What did the BJP do in the past nine months? The BJP made promises to tackle corruption. Instead they took anti-people, anti-farmer decisions. They lost public confidence".

Hazare, who monitored Kejriwal when he launched an anti-corruption campaign here in 2011 that shook India, urged the AAP leader not to repeat the mistakes he committed during his earlier stint as chief minister.
In Kerala, former chief minister V S Achuthariandan called the vote for AAP a blow to "Modi's arrogance". Former Bihar chief minister and JD-U leader Nitish Kumar echoed him. The CPI-M hailed the people of Delhi for "decisively rejecting the BJP".

One after another, BJP leaders accepted defeat and congratulated the AAP and Kejriwal.

Removing Crosses
Christianity is one of China’s fast growing religions, and Chinese authorities are trying to contain it. A government demolition campaign against public symbols of the Christian faith has toppled crosses at several churches in the coastal province of Zhejiang. At end July 2014, a crane and a blow torch were used to cut loose the red, 10 foot crucifix that had adorned the Longgang Township Gratitude Church. The congregates did not offer resistance. Congregrants at the Wengling Church, in Taizhou city, confronted about 4000 public officers, but failed to prevent the removal of two crosses from atop the church building. 40 people were detained during the stand off. Authorities in Zhejiang province, since early spring have issued demolition notices to more than 100 churches, stating their structures violated zonal regulations. In contrast to underground congregations, that are frequently singled out by the authorities, most of the targeted churches are state approved. Church steeples and crosses have been largely aimed at. But in April 2014, the authorities tore down the Sanjiang Church in Wenzhou, explaining the entire structure violated building codes. A highway adjacent to the church was cited by the local government as a model project. The Chinese leadership is not comfortable with the growing allure of Christianity, whose adherents are said to rival in number the 86 million members of the Chinese Communist Party.

Israeli Land Grab
Nearly 1000 acres of the occupied West Bank has been formally annexed by Israel in the last week of August 2014. The move is precursor to illegal Israeli settlement construction, which Palestinian officials warn would further hinder peace talks. Israel declared as ‘‘state land’’ 988 acres (400 ha) in the Gush Etzion region, southwest of Bethleham. Gush Etzion is one of the largest settlement blocks with more than 70000 residents. The land will be used to expand Gvaot, a small settlement that currently houses ten families, to a new city. The Israeli government invited bids in 2013, to build 1000 new homes there. Gvaot is close to the spot where three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and murdered in June 2014. During nine months of talks with the Palestine Liberation Organization in 2013-14, Israel has advanced plans for 14000 new homes. Since the war in Gaza, Israel newspaper and TV broadcasts describe Hamas in blood curdling terms, with scarcely any reference to the high death toll among Palestinian civilians.

Islamic State
The Islamic State was earning about $3 million (£1.8 million) a day from its black-market oil in July 2014, as its fighters swept through northern and central Iraq. After military set-backs since August 2014, this figure has halved. As many of the engineers required to keep the crude flowing have fled the caliphate, the Islamic State is struggling to maintain the once-booming revenues from oil fields it has seized in Iraq and Syria. Emerging in Syria in 2012, IS has plundered oil and gas facilities from the regime and rebels alike.

Saudi Arabia has reportedly struck a secret pact with the USA, securing military support to defeat Islamic State, in return for slashing global oil prices. In the past six months, IS has executed at least 600 of its own militants, the majority of whom were foreign fighters, trying to return home. Militants are killed for ‘‘exceeding the limits in religion’’. Over the last nine months, IS has slain about 2100 civilians, including women and children. The victims were shot, beheaded or stoned to death.

Vol. 47, No. 36, Mar 15 - 21, 2015