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Pope Declares Sept. 1 ‘World Day of Prayer’ for Environment


The Vatican on Aug. 10 announced a World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, the latest move by Pope Francis to push environmental issues up the global agenda.

The World Day will be celebrated annually on Sept. 1, in line with the Orthodox Church’s day for the protection of the environment, the pope said in the newly-released letter.

“As Christians we wish to offer our contribution towards overcoming the ecological crisis which humanity is living through,” Francis wrote in the letter, addressed to Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity.

Describing an “ecological crisis” currently under way, the pope said Sept. 1 would provide people with “a precious opportunity to renew our personal participation in this vocation as custodians of creation.”

The announcement comes less than two months after Francis released his groundbreaking papal letter on the environment, in which he took a tough line against profit-driven mismanagement of the world’s resources.

The encyclical was unveiled on June 18 by a panel including Turkson and a leading bishop of the Orthodox Church, Metropolitan John (Zizioulas) of Pergamon. Reflecting on the decision to share the World Day with the Orthodox Church, Francis said the move was necessary “in order to appear more credible and effective” in addressing environmental issues.

While the pontiff gained global praise from environmentalists for his encyclical, titled “Laudato Si’,” or “Praise be,” he has faced criticism from climate change deniers and some U.S. Republicans. One presidential candidate, Republican Jeb Bush, who is Catholic, said in June that the pontiff should leave the issue to politicians.

The environment is expected to be one of the topics addressed by Francis during his trip to the U.S. in September, during which he will deliver a speech to Congress and the U.N. General Assembly.

Source: RNS

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Thank you for everything SRK on completing 23 years in Bollywood

Mumbai: After making a mark on Indian small screen, he sailed into the silver screen – to conquer hearts and become ‘Badshah’ of Bollywood. As Shah Rukh Khan completed 23 years in the Hindi film industry, the superstar thanked his wellwishers and critics alike for standing by him in his journey in showbiz.

The 49-year-old took to micro-blogging site Twitter to express his gratitude via a video message.

“Hi everybody on Twitter. First of all, extremely sorry for the delay…But I’m a star so I can be a little late. No, I really wanted to thank you all for very, anything, actually…First of all let me thank you for the company that you keep me. Thank you for the company you keep me in the middle of the night when I’m still awake and the world is asleep and I’m feeling lonely,” he said.


The cine icon, who ventured into Bollywood with “Deewana” in 1992 after doing TV serials “Fauji” and “Circus”, pointed out 23 things he is thankful for in the 23-year benchmark.

“Thank you for the film posters that you make of films…whose posters have still not made. Thank you for the good thing… thank you for the bad thing .. thank you for the like, thank you for the dislikes. Thank you for the haters…thank you for all the nice messages you send on festivals… thank you for posting different pictures of my children…thank you for the encouragement…thank you for the trends you create in minutes and moments…and thank you for all the good things you write about my films,” he added.

He further shared: “Thank you for writing the good things about my co-actors and friends and their films. Thank you very much for advice I get…thank you very much for some of the stories which you are sending which I have not yet read…Thank you for the photographs that you post of yourselves, your families…Thank you for some of the videos that you make of my songs and post… thank you for always being there…Thank you for this thing, that thing, everything, and thank you for all the 23 things and 23 years that you have liked me, loved me so much. I wouldn’t be able to do anything if you guys were not there.”

The superstar, who has won epithets like “King Khan”, “Baadshah” and “King of Romance” thanks to films like “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge”, “Veer-Zaara” and “Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham…”, spent the special day with his family, especially his younger son AbRam.

“Spent the day in the arms of my lil’ ones…maybe the best way to celebrate so many years is in the hearts of all of you. And will do a video tomorrow to thank u all personally…till then…Managed 2 do the video. Not the best effort as I was rushed but creativity sometimes takes a backseat to feelings,” he tweeted.


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Greece defaults to IMF

Washington: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) confirmed on Tuesday that debt-laden Greece is in arrears after missing a payment of 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion).

Athens had until 6 p.m. Tuesday to make the payment.

“I confirm that the SDR 1.2 billion repayment (about 1.5 billion euros) due by Greece to the IMF today has not been received. We have informed our executive board that Greece is now in arrears and can only receive IMF financing once the arrears are cleared,” the fund’s communications director, Gerry Rice, said in a statement.

Greece becomes the first advanced nation to default on an obligation to the IMF in the more than seven decades the Washington-based institution has been in existence.

“I can also confirm that the IMF received a request today from the Greek authorities for an extension of Greece’s repayment obligation that fell due today, which will go to the IMF’s executive board in due course,” Rice said.

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said earlier Tuesday that Athens would not make the payment.


Greece’s Eurogroup partners turned down Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ request for a brief extension to the second financial rescue programme, set to expire at midnight Tuesday.

In a letter to the Eurogroup, the Greek leader said the extension would allow Athens to avert a “technical default”.

He also formally requested a third rescue and Eurogroup ministers are scheduled to hold another conference call on Wednesday to review that proposal.

Tuesday marks the final day of the four-month extension agreed on in February by Greece and what is known as the troika: the European Union, the European Central Bank and the IMF.

Talks aimed at paving the way for the disbursement of the remaining 15.5 billion euros ($17.3 billion) of the second rescue broke up in acrimony last Friday.

Tsipras’ Syriza party, which won election early this year on a promise to throw off troika-mandated austerity policies that have pushed Greece’s unemployment rate above 25 percent even as the country’s indebtedness has continued to soar, put forward last week a plan that crossed its own “red lines” by including cuts to pensions.

The creditors, however, demanded additional concessions that the Greek government deemed unacceptable.

Hours after the talks in Brussels ended last Friday, Tsipras announced a July 5 referendum in which Greeks will be asked to vote “yes” or “no” on accepting the troika’s latest proposal, though it remains unclear whether that offer will still be available come July 6.

The Greek government has declared a week-long bank holiday and imposed capital controls as Athens faces the possibility of running out of money.


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AAP admits giving over Rs 1 lakh pay cheques, perks to party members

New Delhi: Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi on Tuesday admitted that a few party members were getting benefits like official house and cars.

In a reply to BJP MLA O P Sharma’s question, government said that these members have been appointed as co-terminus staff with it.

Arvind Kejriwal

Government in its reply said that Bibhav Kumar, private secretary to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Aswathi Muralidharan, joint secretary to Chief minister, have been allotted houses.

The government also said the salary of these staff, who are in the grade pay of Rs 8,700 equivalent to senior IAS officers.

Apart from 17 co-terminus staff, eight contractual staffs are hired and get Rs 60,000 to Rs 1.15 lakh.

There are two advisors who work on the salary of Rs one per month.


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Nepal tables draft of new constitution, defying court order

Kathmandu: Nepalese lawmakers tabled the draft of a long-awaited new constitution in parliament late on Tuesday, prompting protests from opposition members who tore up copies of the charter and said it violated a recent court order.

Spurred by April’s devastating quake, Nepal’s parties struck a historic deal to end years of limbo and draw up a new constitution three weeks ago, agreeing to divide the country into eight provinces and appoint a federal commission to decide on internal borders.

The country’s supreme court, however, termed the agreement unconstitutional and issued a stay order against it, citing an interim charter that calls for lawmakers to restructure the state comprehensively before approving a new constitution and dissolving the constituent assembly.

Nepalese activists, burn a copy of the draft constitution, during a protest demanding citizenship in the mother's name in Kathmandu on June 29, 2015.  AFP PHOTO/Prakash MATHEMA

Nepalese activists, burn a copy of the draft constitution, during a protest demanding citizenship in the mother’s name in Kathmandu on June 29, 2015. AFP PHOTO/Prakash MATHEMA

“After several ups and downs in the country, we are ready to present the first draft of the new constitution,” said lawmaker, Krishna Prasad Sitaula from the ruling Nepali Congress party.

“There are still challenges ahead… parties will have to discuss various issues in the draft and record their differing views in the coming days,” Sitaula told lawmakers as angry opposition members screamed slogans and tore up copies of the charter.

“We don’t want a fast-track constitution,” they chanted.

Opposition lawmakers have long pushed for new provinces to be created along lines that could favour historically marginalised communities, but other parties said this would be divisive and a threat to national unity.

The new draft paves the way for a federal Nepal but leaves the crucial issue of internal borders unresolved.

Upendra Yadav, chairman of the regional Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum-Nepal party, told reporters the draft was “undemocratic”.

“The constituent assembly can’t violate the supreme court’s interim order that was issued just a few weeks ago,” Yadav said after the meeting was adjourned.

“The attempt to bring a new constitution this way is undemocratic and against constitutional norms and values. We can’t accept such undemocratic procedures,” he said.

The next meeting of the constituent assembly is scheduled on Thursday, when lawmakers will discuss the draft before holding public consultations and an eventual vote on its provisions.

The constitution was intended to conclude a peace process begun in 2006 when former Maoist rebels laid down arms and entered politics.

But political infighting confounded efforts to hammer out a deal, throwing parliament into disarray and crippling the economy.


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Why India is so hungry?

Rats in karni mata templeTRN Bureau, Dallas: The key factor and the most neglected in understanding India’s hunger problem is the Hindu belief system and its effect on food production. Most people know of the “sacred cows” that roam free, eating tons of grain while nearby people starve. But a lesser-known and more sinister culprit is another animal protected by religious belief—the rat.

According to those who believe in reincarnation, the rat must be protected as a likely recipient for a reincarnated soul on its way up the ladder of spiritual evolution to Nirvana. Though many reject this and seek to poison rats, large-scale efforts of extermination have been thwarted by religious outcry. As one of India’s statesmen has said, “India’s problems will never cease until her religion changes.”

Rats eat or spoil 20 percent of India’s food grain every year. A recent survey in the wheat-growing district of Hapur in North India revealed an average of 10 rats per house.

Of one harvest of cereals in India, including maize, wheat, rice, millet and so on—a total of 134 million metric tons—the 20 percent loss from rats amounted to 26.8 million metric tons. The picture becomes more comprehensible by imagining a train of boxcars carrying that amount of grain. With each car holding about 82 metric tons, the train would contain 327,000 cars and stretch for 3,097 miles. The annual food grain loss in India would fill a train longer than the distance between New York and Los Angeles.

The devastating effects of the rat in India should make it an object of scorn. Instead, because of the spiritual blindness of the people, the rat is protected and in some places, like a temple (read Karni Mata Temple) 30 miles south of Bikaner in North India, even worshiped.

???????????????????????????????According to an article in the Indian Express, “Hundreds of rats, called ‘kabas’ by the devotees scurry around merrily in the large compound of the temple and sometimes even around the image of the goddess Karni Devi situated in a cave. The rats are fed on prasad offered by the devotee or by the temple management. Legend has it that the fortunes of the community are linked to that of the rats.

Rat Worship“One has to walk cautiously through the temple compound; for if a rat is crushed to death, it is not only considered a bad omen but may also invite severe punishment. One is considered lucky if a rat climbs over one’s shoulder. Better still to see a white rat.”

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Mobile phone bills could rise by 10-15 per cent in coming months

TRN Bureau, New Delhi: Mobile phone users could see a hike of 10-15% in their mobile bills very soon analysts have estimated as telecom operators may resort to an increase in call rates to be able to pay nearly Rs 1.10 lakh crore to the government for the spectrum they have just bought.

“I don’t rule out a minimum 10% increase in tariffs,” said Mr Rajan Mathews, Director General of the GSM industry body, COAI.

The auction was structured in a way to ensure maximum revenue, he said, adding, “This will put inevitable pressure for an upward revision in call and data tariffs.”

Analysts believe that the increase in call rates would need to be spread over time due to existing competitive pressures in the industry and the impending launch of telecom services by Reliance Jio Infocomm. The escalation in debt servicing costs will force telecom operators to increase tariffs.

Mobile call rates could rise by 10-15% in coming months. Carriers have had to keep rates stable or even lower call rates in the recent quarters to retain or add subscribers. Even as the government did not reveal the details of the auction proceeds, the additional debt is expected to significantly increase the finance costs, assuming that the operators facing licence renewals did win back their spectrum.




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