Newsletter 25th May, 2018



Moments after Prime Minister Narendra Modi accepted the fitness challenge thrown at him by cricketer Virat Kohli, Opposition leaders dared the PM to accept the more important challenges of governance too.

Kohli had tweeted: “I have accepted the #FitnessChallenge by @ra_THORe sir (I&B Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore). Now I would like to challenge my wife @AnushkaSharma , our PM @narendramodi ji and @msdhoni Bhai for the same.”

The PM responded thus: “Challenge accepted, Virat! I will be sharing my own #FitnessChallenge video soon. @imVkohli #HumFitTohIndiaFit”

The first to react was Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who said: “Dear PM, glad to see you accept the @imVkohli fitness challenge. Here’s one from me: Reduce fuel prices or the Congress will do a nationwide agitation and force you to do so. I look forward to your response.”

The Congress also slammed the PM for tweeting on the fitness challenge by Kohli, but keeping silent on civilian deaths due to police firing in Tuticorin. “We wish to ask the PM if he considers the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister fit to resign in the wake of what happened in Tuticorin. And we also wonder why the PM has nothing to say on these deaths?” Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi said today.

Another Congress leader, Randeep Surjewala, tweeted telling the PM to take up the challenge of granting “MSP fitness of cost plus 50 per cent profit to India’s farmers as you promised; anti-corruption fitness by bringing back Rs 80 lakh crore of black money from abroad as you promised punishing the corrupt in your government for various scams and national security fitness by stopping Pakistan-sponsored terrorism and Chinese incursion in Doklam, next to Arunachal border and elsewhere.”

CPM’s Sitaram Yechury asked the PM to stop media stunts and accept real challenges. “Modi’s tryst with crude prices should remind us of that old dictum—‘You know who is swimming naked when the tide runs out’. Now he is trying to distract us with newer tamashas like fitness challenge,” Yechury said while RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav said PM Modi should first fill empty stomachs of people and give jobs to them.



The Centre yesterday reassured the people that the current Nipah virus outbreak was localised in Kerala and had not spread out of the state.

With nine and three deaths, Kerala’s Kozhikode and Malappuram are the most affected districts, together accounting for all the 12 deaths from the virus. Two of the deaths were reported today. Fourteen confirmed and 20 suspected cases are under management at Kozhikode Medical College and Trivandrum Medical College.

The central experts of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) today issued a late evening statement to dispel fears of Nipah spread beyond Kerala.

The NCDC has asked people to maintain safe hygiene practices like washing hands, avoiding consumption of fruits and vegetables partly eaten by birds or animals and avoid going near infected persons.




The police firing toll at Tuticorin on Thursday went up to 13, even as cases were registered against Opposition leaders, including DMK’s MK Stalin and actor-politician Kamal Haasan, for defying prohibitory orders.

Amid a political slugfest over the incidents of police-public clashes, Stalin held a sit-in at Fort St George, the state secretariat, before being physically lifted and removed by security personnel, while Chief Minister K Palaniswami blamed the Opposition for “instigating” violence.

Over 100 people were arrested in Tuticorin for rioting, setting ablaze and damaging public property, and assaulting police personnel. As many as 65 of those arrested were granted bail by a Tuticorin court.

Sporadic incidents of violence were reported from a few places in the city where a state-run liquor outlet was ransacked early on Thursday.

Normal life continued to be affected for the third day as modes of public transport did not ply. Most shops were shut.

Terming the incidents “unfortunate,” the CM mourned the deaths and said all past agitations for the closure of the plant were peaceful. He said the state government was making efforts for the closure of the plant since 2013, when late J Jayalalithaa was the CM. “As far as Amma’s government is concerned, we respect people’s feelings,” he said, adding all legal steps were underway to shut the plant, and cases were pending in courts.





Refusing to attach much importance to the attempts by various Opposition parties to form alliance against the BJP for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury on Thursday said “arrangement” to form the government in Delhi would take shape “post-election”.

“Before the 2014 General Election also there were talks of the Third Front, the Fourth Front, the Federal Front, and so on, but did any of these materialise?” Yechury said in a press conference in Kolkata. He said since the elections were round the corner, “these talks (about electoral tie-ups) were happening”.

On the CPM electoral strategy, Yechury said appropriate tactics would be adopted to prevent splitting of anti-BJP votes. He, however, added that in Bengal there was no possibility of the CPM reaching an electoral understanding with the TMC for the 2019 poll. The CPM was of the view that TMC and BJP were flip sides of the same coin.







US President Donald Trump on Thursday said the summit talks with North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un in Singapore will not take place as planned. Calling it a “missed opportunity” and “truly a sad moment in history”, Trump, in his letter to Kim, said it was inappropriate for the talks to take place amid “tremendous anger” and “open hostility” from North Korea.

The letter was made public by The White House on Thursday. Trump asked Kim to call or write to him if he changed his mind.

“I was very much looking forward to being there with you. Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting. Therefore, please let this letter serve to represent that the Singapore summit, for the good of both parties, but to the detriment of the world, will not take place,” Trump wrote.

In a veiled threat at North Korea, Trump also said America’s nuclear capabilities are “so massive and powerful”. “You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used,” he wrote.

Trump, however, thanked Kim for releasing several US hostages from North Korea and called it a “beautiful gesture”.

Trump’s letter comes on the back of North Korean media reporting that the country has closed down the tunnels at its nuclear test site. The move was part of steps taken by North Korea to ease tension on the Korean Peninsula. North Korea has conducted all six of its nuclear tests at the Punggye-ri site, which consists of tunnels dug beneath Mount Mantap in the northeast of the country.





The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force today, giving EU citizens new rights over how their personal data is used. It has been billed as the biggest shake-up of data privacy laws since the birth of the web

The pan-EU law aims to give its citizens more rights to control over their online information. The law covers companies that collect large amounts of customer data, including Facebook and Google. It won’t be overseen by a single authority but instead by a patchwork of national and regional watchdogs across the 28-nation bloc

The GDPR foresees fines of 2 to 4 per cent of a company’s annual revenues or 20 million euros ($24 million), whichever is higher.

Companies will need to get freely given, specific, unambiguous and informed consent from individuals to process their data. They will also need users to opt in to the processing of their data – simply giving them an opt out will not be valid. In other words, companies will no longer be able to ask consumers to tick a box after a long set of terms and conditions that most people never read.

The GDPR will apply to any company that has customers in the EU, whether the firm was established in the bloc or not.

Companies processing data across the bloc will have a lead authority in the country where they have their main establishment. The lead authority will be the main point of contact for the company and responsible for ensuring its compliance with GDPR.




Apart from the man himself, perhaps nothing has defined President Trump’s political persona more than Twitter.

But on Wednesday, one of Trump’s Twitter habits – his practice of blocking critics on the service, preventing them from engaging with his account – was declared unconstitutional by a federal judge in Manhattan.

Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald, addressing a novel issue about how the Constitution applies to social media platforms and public officials, found that the president’s Twitter feed is a public forum. As a result, she ruled that when Trump or an aide blocked seven plaintiffs from viewing and replying to his posts, he violated the First Amendment.

If the principle undergirding Wednesday’s ruling in Federal District Court stands, it is likely to have implications far beyond Trump’s feed and its 52 million followers, said Jameel Jaffer, the Knight First Amendment Institute’s executive director and the counsel for the plaintiffs.

Public officials throughout the country, from local politicians to governors and members of Congress, regularly use social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to interact with the public about government business. “This ruling should put them on notice, and if they censor critics from social media accounts used for official purposes, they run the risk that someone will sue them and win,” he said.






Karnatak Dy CM G Parameshwara on Thursday insisted that the Congress-JD(S) coalition was yet to discuss the modalities about H D Kumaraswamy continuing as Chief Minister for a full five-year term.

While speaking to reporters ahead of Friday’s trust vote in Bengaluru, Parmeshwara, in response to a question whether Kumaraswamy will be the chief minister for a full five-year term, said, “We have not yet discussed those modalities.” He further said, “We are also yet to decide on what portfolios have to go to them and what should be with us, then five years term- whether they should be or we should also…all those modalities we have still not discussed.”

The Deputy CM, when asked about senior Congress leader D K Shivakumar being unhappy and holding a separate meeting with a few MLAs, said that all MLAs were together and the alliance would be successful in the floor test. “Discussions, group meetings may have happened or not, but above all the fact is that we are united. I can say only this,” he added.

Shivakumar, who was widely credited for keeping the flock of party MLAs together amid claims of attempted poaching by the BJP, is reportedly not happy after being ignored for the deputy chief minister’s post that went to Parameshwara. “Is it the same for those who win one seat and those who win the state? I have not come to politics to take sanyas. I will play chess not football,” Shivakumar had said.


The Army has instructed its personnel not to stop or check civilian vehicles entering military cantonments across the country. “All barriers, check-posts and roadblocks will be removed. Vehicles will not be stopped or checked,” says the May 21 letter.

Retired personnel have taken to the social media to voice their concern over how such orders may be detrimental to the safety and security of Army personnel and their families, given that terrorists have targeted military stations in the past.

The instructions are the outcome of a May 19 meeting chaired by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to review the “closure of roads in cantonments”. It was decided that all roads, partially or fully closed, would be opened on May 22. Around 80 roads have been opened for civilian use.

The letter stipulates that sentries will record the flow of traffic on these roads for 30 days. A review of the threat perception and security concerns, besides inconvenience to the civilian population, will follow.

There has been concern over how the civilian population is inconvenienced owing to the closure of roads in places like Secunderabad and Pune. However, there is umbrage within the force and ex-servicemen over lack of review of the risk involved.

The letter however,  exempts Badami Bagh Cantonment in Srinagar, Satwari road at Jammu Divisional Headquarters, and Parade road in Delhi Cantonment.


Rohingyas should not live in India and neither should those who sympathise with them, BJP leader Vinay Katiyar said on Thursday, days after Bollywood actor Priyanka Chopra visited Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh.

The actor, a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, visited the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar on Monday and described the crisis as “horrific”. The 35-year-old actor also urged people to help the affected children.

“VIPs should not visit there (Rohingya refugee camps). This sends out a wrong message… Priyanka ji should not have gone there. These people (VIPs) should avoid going there. Rohingya Muslims should not live here and nor should those who sympathise with them,” Katiyar said. He added that Rohingya Muslims had killed thousands of Hindus and humiliated their daughters.


The government is considering a windfall tax on oil exploration and drilling companies such as ONGC, Oil India and Vedanta-run Cairn India as part of a plan to cushion consumers from rising crude prices.

The plan is to impose a cess on the income of these firms the moment prices cross $70 per barrel. Oil producers get paid international rates for the oil they produce from domestic fields. Under the plan, they would have to part with any revenue they earn if prices cross $70 per barrel.

The tax could be used in two ways – as a subsidy to fuel retailers for absorbing the hikes and not passing them on to consumers or compensation to the government if it cuts the excise duty.

Officials indicated that the windfall tax on oil producers was the most likely solution as the finance ministry was against cutting excise duties.

Around 18 per cent of the crude used by India is drilled domestically, but the price of this domestic crude is fixed in line with international prices.


Actor Morgan Freeman has been accused of se.xually inappropriate behaviour and harassment by eight women, according to a report by CNN. The women accused the veteran actor of touching them without consent, making inappropriate comments about their bodies, unwanted staring and even attempting to lift their skirts. From production assistants to staff at Revelations Entertainment, CNN got in touch with many women associated with Morgan Freeman in a professional capacity and most of them have described his behaviour as inappropriate.

“In all, 16 people spoke to CNN about Freeman as part of this investigation, eight of whom said they were victims of what some called harassment and others called inappropriate behaviour by Freeman. Eight said they witnessed Freeman’s alleged conduct. These 16 people together described a pattern of inappropriate behaviour by Freeman on set, while promoting his movies and at his production company Revelations Entertainment.” the report read.


India Captain Virat Kohli’s participation in the English county championship was, on Thursday, ruled out due to a neck injury, throwing his meticulously planned build-up for the tour of England into disarray.

Kohli will require three weeks of rehabilitation to recover from the injury, the BCCI confirmed.

The 29 year old will undergo a fitness test on June 15, which will confirm his availability for the initial phase of the limited-overs tour starting with the two T20 Internationals against Ireland in the last week of June.

‘Team India Captain Mr Virat Kohli suffered a neck injury while fielding during Match between RCB and Sunrisers Hyderabad on 17th May 2018 at M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru,’ BCCI acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary said in a press release. ‘Mr Kohli, who was scheduled to play for Surrey CCC in the month of June, has been ruled out from participating. This decision was taken following assessments by the BCCI Medical team, subsequent scans, and a specialist visit,’ the release further stated.


Pakistan provoked England’s latest batting collapse by combining disciplined bowling with superb catching before showing resistance in its reply to dominate the opening day of the first Test at the Lord’s.

A new international season started with some familiar problems for England, which stumbled to 43/3 after winning the toss and then lost its last five wickets for 16 runs in 4.4 overs to be dismissed for 184 soon after tea.

Opener Alastair Cook was the only batsman to stand out, making 70 in his record-leveling 153rd consecutive Test.

Pakistan was 50/1 at stumps, trailing by 134 runs.


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Many attempts to communicate are nullified by saying too much. – Robert Greenleaf


The white doorman stops a black man from entering the club. He says that coloured people are not allowed in. Angry, the black says:

“Listen sir….when I was born I was BLACK. When I grew up I was BLACK, When I’m sick I’m BLACK, When I go in the sun I’m BLACK, When I’m cold I’m BLACK, When I die I’ll be BLACK.

But you sir, When you were born you were PINK, When you grow up you’re WHITE,

When you’re sick, you’re GREEN, When you go in the sun you turn RED, When you’re cold you turn BLUE, And when you die you turn PURPLE. And you have the nerve to call me colored??

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