News Wrap


Biju Janata Dal (BJD) Lok Sabha member Baijayant Jay Panda has shown a path by offering return of proportionate salary for waste of precious Parliamentary proceedings due to disruptions. BJD is also known to be amongst rarest of political parties advocating political parties to be covered by RTI Act. Unfortunately BJD is just a regional party and not the national one whose projected ideals should rather be trend-setter for national parties. A former Lok Sabha Speaker had once rightly commented that constitution was drafted by gentlemen for gentlemen. But things have changed for the worst, and hard-earned tax-payers' money is being wasted on Parliamentary democracy which now requires abolition of any type of Parliamentary immunity from normal law of land, so that Parliamentarians disrupting Parliamentary proceedings may be punished by law of land in the manner persons causing disruption in functioning of administration are punished.

Moreover Speakers and Deputy Speakers of Lok Sabha should be most acceptable office-bearers in the complete House by being elected by secret and compulsory vote of all members through Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) on nominations signed by at least 34-percent members, rather ruling party forcing its nominee because of majority in the House. Member/s absenting from such secret voting may not be allowed to vote in Parliament though retaining membership of the House. It is indeed a sort of crime against voters and public-exchequer if elected Parliamentarians fail to fulfil their important duty to attend parliamentary sessions without any proper reasons.

Kashmir —Continuing Conflict
The issue of Kashmir is there since the division of India in 1947. Using the military might, Kashmir was divided and occupied, on the one side by the Indian rulers and on the other side by the Pakistani rulers. The situation has been explosive for about two and half decades. About one hundred thousand people have been killed so far. The number of those injured, missing and tortured in the police and military camps is far bigger. About seven hundred thousand army personnel are stationed in Indian Kashmir; it's a war like situation there. The rulers strive to suppress people's fury with force of the gun, but it erupts in flames time and again. For several months now, the situation is out of control of the army. Despite the curfews, the firings and the ban on internet and newspapers, people come out on the streets in thousands and clash with the security and police forces. The widespread participation of people in these protests and clashes is exemplary.

In the country and abroad, progressive voice is being raised in support of the people of Kashmir. Human Rights activists worldwide stand by the side of Kashmiris in their struggle for justice and democracy, in their struggle for the right to self-determination, in their struggle against the regime of military atrocities, in their struggle against the black laws such as AFSPA and others. But the persons in power in New Delhi continually refuse to see reasons behind massive social unrest round the year.

Yemen–back to stone age
A US raid in Yemen on January 29, 2017 killed 41 suspected al-Qaeda militants and 16 civilians, in what would be America’s first military action in the country under President Donald Trump. After Libya, it is now the turn of Yemen to get completely destroyed by war and ethnic pogrom. The war began in 2014, when Shiite Houthi rebels and their allies swept down from the north and captured the capital Sanna. A Saudi-led military coalition has been helping government forces battle the rebels for nearly two years. Yemen is the victim of regional rivalry between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia.

Yemen has 60% Sunni population and 40% Shiite population. Iran and Saudi Arabia are closer to open conflict, with the unfolding civil war in Yemen. Saudi Arabia began a bombing campaign against Houthi targets in Yemen, since 25 March 2015. Riyadh’s bombers have failed to halt the encroachment of rebel forces. The coalition of ten Arab states has struck from the air, while Egypt has despatched naval forces to secure the port of Aden and the vital shipping lines. Iran has up to 5000 advisers and other affiliates in Yemen. A three-way battle for control has gripped Yemen, between the Hadi government loyalists, Houthi tribal fighters who are Shiite Muslim, and renegade army elements loyal to the former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Teheran already counts allies in Lebanon, Iraq and Syria, as bulwarks against the traditional Sunni elites. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is embedded in towns and villages, across a swathe of southern Yemen. USA backs the Saudi drive to crush the Hauthi rebellion, but in Iraq, is supporting Iranian-backed militias against ISIS, the self styled Islamic state.

Yemen is one of the world’s poorest countries, and faces an acute water shortage. This cynical and cruel war has further led to shortages of food (with 10 million under fed), medicine, and electricity. The Houthi and Saleh forces have forcefully suppressed demonstrations, exhorted illegal taxes, and shelled civilian areas. Worse, the Saudis have bombed hospitals, funeral services, and refugee camps, killing thousands of civilians. Like Putin in Syria, they have made a point of targeting civilian infrastructure, resulting in over 2.8 million internally displaced persons and 120,000 refugees.

East Europe Elections
It was widely remarked that recent elections in Bulgaria and Moldova were victories for Russian President Vladimir Putin. The truth is more revealing and not quite so simple.

The defeat of Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov's hand-picked presidential candidate, Testska Tsachova, by former Air Force Major General Rumen Radev with the support of the Socialist Party, was at least an event giving insight into Russian Putin's world.

Borisov is former coach of the national karate team. With the end of Communist Party rule he founded a private security firm staffed by his suddenly unemployed fellow Olympic boxers, wrestlers, karatekas, and weightlifters. He used the political connections made to become Interior Minister, head of the security apparatus, and a relentless self-promoter as alleged fighter of corruption.

Borisov became popular enough to found his own party, inspired by Germany's right-wing Bavarian Christian Social Union, called GERB (Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria, the word gerb meaning "coat of arms"). As Mayor of Sofia, the capital city, and Prime Minister, he has been the central figure in Bulgarian politics.

He also used European Union membership as a self-promotional tool, but agriculture and industry have lagged, corruption and cronyism are rife at all levels of society, and despite Borisov's law and order pose, no high-level figures have been jailed. It was time for his bubble to burst.

Radev has been rightfully criticised for racism toward immigrants (he has played on bigoted fears of Bulgaria becoming a "migrant ghetto"). This is unfortunately common in a country where a violent refugee hunter can become a reality show "hero". He's given no sign that, he wants to leave the EU, however.

Party of Socialists head Igor Dudon's election as president of Moldova was a clear victory for Putin. These "Socialists" reflect his anti-EU, anti-LGBTQ, bigoted politics. Dodon defeated Maia Sandu, whose personal party, Action and Solidarity, support the "free market" as well as civil liberties. A referendum on homophobia in the guise of "economics," this victory for Putin is a human disaster for Moldova and a measure of today's ideological disorientation.

Vol. 49, No.33, Feb 19 - 25, 2017