News Wrap


Areport by Terre Des Hommes, an international development agency working in India, revealed in 2018, that more than 22,000 children are employed as child labours in the mica mining areas of Jharkhand and Bihar. According to a recent survey conducted by the central government's National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), over 5000 children in the age group of six to fourteen years have abandoned education in mica mining districts of Jharkhand and Bihar. A section of them have started working as labourers to supplement their family income. The survey was conducted in the districts of Koduma and Giridih in Jharkhand, and Nawada district in Bihar. A huge number of children are not attending schools. There is lack of aspiration and lack of interest in schools. Children are venturing into mica scraps collection, and their sales is the main means of livelihood for many families. India is one of the world's largest producers of mica, with Jharkhand and Bihar being the main mica producing states in the country.

Maoist Facing Ammunitions Crisis
Most parts of Narayanpur, along with Bijapur, Konta, Sukma and Danterwada districts fall under "liberatal Zone" or the safe den of Maoist ultras. There is heavy "Naxal" presence in the porous and forested terrain of Abujhmead, in Bastar district. Acting on specific information that the Ultras were running a training camp, the security apparatus of District Reserve Guard Team (DRG) and Security Task Force entered a particular location near Gummarka village, inside the thick forests of Orcha in Naryanpur district of Chattisgarh on 24 August 2019, and decimated at least five ultra Maoists in a fierce gun battle. After 40 mins of fierce gunfight, the "Naxals" who are facing severe ammunition crisis fled from the encounter. Security forces recovered the unidentified bodies of 4 males and 1 female, and including carline, 12 bore rifles. Two security personnel also sustained bullet injuries.

Young Americans Hug Socialism
There is a wave of young Americans, openly supporting socialism, even among Miami's staunchly anti-left Cubans. Although the definition of socialism ideology varies widely, it is making particular inroads among millennials and Generation Z voters, who are expected to make up 37% of the 2020 United States electorate. About 43% Americans believe some version of socialism would be good for USA. Self-described democratic socialists like senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and Rep Aluxandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York have faith in socialist-style policies. Students are developing a disdain for capitalism and the political right after curricular readings, attending left leaning campus events, interacting with students of varying racial and socio- economic backgrounds. Young Americans want sweeping reforms, including Medicare for all, for access to higher education, and a green New Deal. Americans who came of age during the last recession, often embrace a large government role in social policy. They cite stagnant wages, student loan debt, and a decrease in employer-sponsored health insurance and pensions. Younger Americans are less threatened by socialism than older generations, who might associate it with Soviet or Chinese rule. Today's socialism for younger people means the Canadian health system and the Swedish welfare state.

Journalists Attacked
Indian journalists and human rights activists were among those globally spied upon by unnamed entities, using an Israeli spyware Peagasus, according to Facebook owned Whats App. An Israeli surveillance firm NSO Group, is reportedly behind the technology that helped unnamed entity's spies hack into phones of roughly 1400 users, spanning across four continents, and included diplomats, political dissidents, journalists and senior government officials. WhatsApp has over 1.5 billion users globally, of which India alone accounts for about 400 million. So far WhatsApp has refused to divulge identities or the exact number of those targeted in India. WhatsApp says it had in May 2019, stopped a highly sophisticated cyber attack that exploited its video calling system to send malware to its users. The mobile message giant says it had sent a special WhatsApp message to approximately 1400 users, that it had reason to believe were impacted by the attack, to directly inform them about what happened. While the messaging giant has not disclosed the details or the number of people affected in India, a Whats App spokesman maintains that Indian users were among those contacted. Denying allegations, the Isreili surveillance firm NSO says it provides technology to licensed government intelligence and law enforcement agencies to help them fight terrorism and serious crime. It is not designed or licensed for use against human rights activists and journalists. WhatsApp says it believes the attack targeted at least 100 members of civil society. This number may grow higher, as more victims come forward. Tools that enable surveillance into private lives are being abused. The proliferation of this technology into the hands of irresponsible companies and governments puts everyone at risk. Government of India is concerned at the breach of the privacy of citizens of India on the messaging platform WhatsApp. The government of India was alerted on the issue by WhatsApp in May 2019. The WhatsApp company had reached out to the government in Sep 2019 as well. There was a fresh response from WhatsApp company on 01 Nov 2019, where it re-iterates that 121 uses in India had been impacted by the spyware.

Migrants From Yemen
The European Union began paying Libyan coast guards and militias to stop migrants there, blocking the other main route out of East Africa, through Libya and across the Mediterranean to Europe. The number of Mediterranean crossing plummeted from 370,000 in 2016, to just over 56,000 in 2019. Meanwhile, more than 150,000 migrants landed in Yemen in 2018, a 50% increase from the year before. Funded by the EU, Ethiopia has cracked down on migrant smugglers and intensified border controls. In Djibouti long lines of migrants descend single file down mountain slopes to the rocky coastal plain. The migrants are crammed in wooden smuggling boats to cross the narrow strait, between the Red Sea and the gulf. On the shores of Yemen traffickers load them into trucks, driving them to ramshackle compounds in the desert outside the coastal village of Ras al-Ara. With its systematic torture, Ras al- Ara is a particular hell on the arduous 900 mile (1400 kms) journey from the Horn of Africa to oil rich Saudi Arabia. Migrants leave home with dreams of escaping poverty. They trek through mountains and deserts, sandstorms, and 113 F degrees temperatures, surviving on crumbs of bread and salty water from ancient wells. Nearly every migrant who lands in Yemen, is hidden in compounds, while their families are shaken down for money. Out of every thousand, 800 migrants disappear in the lock-ups of Ras-al-Ara. Migrant women are subjected to daily torments, ranging from beatings and rapes to starvation. Their screams are drowned out by the noise of generators or cars, or simply lost in the desert. Traffickers who torture are a mix of Yemenis and Ethiopeans of different ethnic groups. Victims cannot appeal to tribal loyalties, as they are tortured by men from other groves. Some find their way safely across war-torn Yemen to Saudi Arabia, only to be caught and tossed back over the border. The lucky ones make it into the Saudi Kingdom, to earn their living as servants and labourers.

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Vol. 52, No. 31, Feb 2 - 8, 2020