International Latest News

Biden focused G-7 Summit disappoints

By Asad Mirza

The 3Cs: Covid, China and Climate Change dominated the 47th annual G-7 Summit in Cornwall, UK. But overall the leaders were not able to present a united stand on any major issue.

The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wanted the summit to showcase his brand of ‘Global Britain’, after Brexit. But there were terse exchanges between the French, EU and British leaders and officials on the issue. In effect, the summit turned out to be more Biden focused and expectations were raised high on some real agreement taking place on the 3C’s before the summit, though that was not the result ultimately.

Broadly, Biden sought to set a new tone after the unrestrained Trump years. Most G-7 leaders seemed relieved to have a return to a more predictable and traditional US administration. France’s Emmanuel Macron welcomed Biden back to the “club.” But the final Communique showed that even Biden’s expectations to ensure a consensus on many of his promises fell short.

On the issue of Covid-19, the leaders of the seven most affluent western nations seemed united, but there was a difference of opinion on the way forward. Earlier, they had shown commitment to donate 1 billion Covid-19 vaccine doses over the next year to poorer countries. But in reality the bloc fell short of its own goal — 613 million new doses pledged, instead of a billion.

Even so, the vaccine effort gave Biden some help with his China push. Biden has criticised China for a transactional brand of vaccine diplomacy, where the shots are being doled out for geopolitical advantage. Biden called on democracies to counter China and Russia by donating vaccines equally and based on need, without seeking favours in return.

On the second day of the summit, US unveiled plans to counter China through infrastructure funding for poorer nations. Promising to “collectively catalyse” hundreds of billions of infrastructure investment for low- and middle-income countries, the G7 leaders said they would offer a “values-driven, high-standard and transparent” partnership.

G-7s “Build Back Better World” (B3W) project was aimed directly at competing with China’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road Infrastructure (BRI) initiative.

However, several leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, pushed back over worries about turning the G-7 into an anti-China group, suggesting any infrastructure programme should be framed as a more positive, pro-environment effort.

French President Emmanuel Macron also pushed back publicly, saying that the “G-7 is not a group that is hostile to China.” Macron was one leader who sought the middle ground.

China hit back at these statements dismissively saying that the days when “global decisions” were dictated by a “small group of countries are long gone”.

The final version of the communique skirted B3W, instead creating a task force to study how to spur infrastructure development abroad. It made no mention of BRI, though Biden renewed his call at a press conference, and said that, “I proposed that we have a democratic alternative to the Belt and Road initiative, to build back better.”

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced last month that due to surging Covid cases in India, he’d not travel to the UK, he addressed the summit virtually. He conveyed India’s commitment to “collective” solution to global health challenges, and called for “one earth, one health” approach, which aims for unity and solidarity among the states of the world to deal with the pandemic. He also emphasised the need to keep raw materials for vaccines easily accessible.

The summit’s Communique, which was issued several hours after the end of the summit, promises many things but falls short of what was expected to be achieved before the summit.

(The Op-Ed appeared in IANS)

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Latest News New York

New York lifts all Covid curbs with 70 per cent vaccine threshold hit

New York, NY: Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York announced on Tuesday that “we can now return to life as we know it” because the state had hit his vaccination-rate threshold.

Earlier this month, Cuomo said he would lift “virtually all” Covid-19 restrictions once 70% of New Yorkers had received at least one dose of a vaccine.

Cuomo said on Tuesday that restrictions would be “relaxed as of today, effective immediately.”

“Remember June 15th. Remember today, because it is the day that New York rose again,” Cuomo said at Manhattan’s One World Trade Center, adding that June 15 was also his late father and former Gov. Mario Cuomo’s birthday.

Masks will still be required on public transit, but otherwise New York’s landscape of state mandates will be drastically diminished.

Counties and localities can still implement their own restrictions, and Cuomo said New York would still observe guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Businesses can also keep their own mask policies.

Cuomo did not clarify policies on masks and social-distancing measures in schools.

New York’s vaccination drive has been most successful in regions around New York City and to the north – Long Island and the area around the capital, Albany, have the highest rates of single doses administered.

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India Latest News

India Class 12 results by July 31: SC

New Delhi: The Supreme Court gave prima facie approval of the objective scheme submitted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and Council for Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE) for awarding marks to Class 12 exams, after the same stood canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The scheme was found lacking of dispute resolution mechanism for students aggrieved by the assessment under the scheme and timeline for result announcement and holding of the optional exam. The two Boards agreed to incorporate it into the scheme.

The bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari said, “After perusing the scheme we have no reservation to accept the same and permit the Boards to proceed on that basis.”

The scheme submitted by CBSE will assess students based on their performance not just in Class 12 but also in Class 10 and Class 11.

Appearing for Centre, Attorney General KK Venugopal said that 30 percent weightage will be given to the best three subjects in Class 10, 30 percent weightage to Class 11 performance and 40 percent to Class 12 performance. The assessment for Class 12 will be based on unit tests, midterm exams, and Pre Boards results.

Based on the assessment scheme a Results Committee will be formed headed by Principal of that school and two senior PGT teachers of that school along with two PGT teachers of neighboring school.

The CISCE also submitted its assessment scheme for Class 12 to the Court. Senior advocate JK Das appearing for CISCE said they would also assess students based on performance in Class 10, 11 and 12 by taking the best marks awarded in these years.

While the CISCE scheme specified announcing results by July 31, AG Venugopal said that CBSE will also announce by that date.

The Centre took the decision of canceling the Class 12 CBSE Board exams in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Even CISCE followed suit by canceling the Class 12 exams.

Nearly 14.5 lakh students of Class 12 registered with CBSE keenly awaited the scheme based on which they would be awarded marks.

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Latest News USA

Report claims US-based Pak NGOs ostensibly collected funds for India Covid crisis, likely to use to fund terror

Washington, DC: United States-based Pakistan-linked charity organizations collected funds in name of helping India in the Covid-19 crisis, however, the donated millions of dollars are likely to be used for “fomenting protests and sponsoring outright terror attacks”, according to a report.
In an elaborate report, DisInfo Lab uncovered the ‘Covid-19 Scam 2021’, which it says is “one of the worst scams in human history” in terms of the humanitarian cost as millions of dollars were stolen in the name of ‘Helping India Breath.’

As India witnessed a second devastating surge in Covid-19 cases, help came from all around the world. However, some organizations use the crisis to collect funds illegitimately in the name of charity.

The DisInfo Lab exposed several charity organizations, which managed to raise funds by exploiting India’s hard-earned goodwill.
These organizations have close ties with radical Islamists and terrorists’ organizations and are run in cahoots with the Pakistan army.
One such Islamic organization is the IMANA-Islamic Medical Association of North America. “Funds worth tens of crores donated by well-meaning people world over to help India in crisis – has been stolen. There is no accountability and in the present globalized world, no mechanism to ensure any accountability,” said the report.
The Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA) is an Illinois-based medical relief organization that was formally established as Islamic Medical Association (IMA) in 1967, and subsequently renamed IMANA.
Unlike several other organizations, IMANA was rather opaque in its recent charity drive during the Covid crisis and has provided “scanty details” about the manner it has spent crores of funds it has collected.
The current chairman of IMANA is Dr Ismail Mehr, who has been the leader of the “Help India Breathe” project.
IMANA created a buzz last month with its fundraiser. It started the #HelpIndiaBreathe campaign on Instagram on April 27, 2021, and set an initial target of 1.8 crores.
It is important to note that IMANA has no office, brand, or representative in India. However, it did not stop them from organizing an aggressive fundraiser in the name of providing support to India.
According to the Disinfo Lab’s report, IMANA received huge amounts in a short span and frequently revised the target amount as soon as the previous target was met.
According to DisInfo Lab’s calculations based on the funds they collected in the specific time period, there was a time they were receiving donations at a speed of $100K per hour. The total amount, as per the calculations, can be anywhere between Rs.30 crore to Rs.158 crore. DisInfo Lab said, “Given that IMANA has almost zero transparency about the fund it collected, there is no way to ascertain the actual amount it might have received.”
During several interviews, Dr Ismail Mehr of IMANA made several dubious claims. He claimed to have purchased Medical Equipment worth $800,000 on May 7 that included 100k nasal cannulas, 40k masks, 450 oxygen concentrators. It never reached India.
They also claimed to have tied up with Air India for free shipment to Delhi. Another claim stated that they had elaborated a network of people and organizations working on the ground that included Hindu and Sikh volunteers. Another claim suggested they have tied up with India’s DRDO and the Ministry of Agriculture.
None of these claims could be verified from the information available in open source. Also, it is highly unlikely organizations like DRDO would tie up with a US-based organization with members from Pakistan-origin for any relief work in India or even help them to coordinate with people on the ground.
IMANA was not the only organization running fundraisers on the pretext of helping India. DisInfo Lab found at least 66 such campaigns on just one platform, Launch Good, DisInfo Lab said.
The organizations “mopped up” the crucial fund at a critical time which could have saved lives and “exploited” the goodwill that India and Indians have acquired the world over, said the report.
“Some of the major organizations that have collected funds on Launch Good include- ICNA Relief Canada, Human Concern International (Canada), Helping Hand for Relief and Development (HHRD), and Islamic Relief UK,” the report said.
Helping Hand for Relief and Development USA (HHRD) is the international front of Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) Relief USA. HHRD and ICNA are self-identified US charities of Jamaat-e-Islami (Jel) based out of Pakistan.
According to DisInfo Lab, In December 2017, HHRD organized a conference in Pakistan. Other organizations sponsoring the event included the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation, the charitable wing of the Pakistani terrorist organization, Lashkar-e-Taiba.
Several organizations with questionable background and no FCRA approval ran campaigns and collected funds. There were around 23 such organizations, and they managed to collect over $1.2 million with small fundraisers.
Reportedly ISNA and IMANA have links to terror organizations across the world. ISNA has been alleged to provide funds to Hamas. They have provided funds to Al-Khidmat Foundation, which is the ‘charity wing’ of JeI which has been funding Hamas.

IMANA also provides help to Al-Mustafa Welfare Trust (AMT), which is part of Pakistan’s Milbus’ military capital. It was issued for the personal benefit of the Pak Army fraternity. It is run by retired Army, Navy and Air Force personnel.
“Funds worth tens of crores donated by well-meaning people the world over to help India in crisis – have been stolen. There is no accountability and in the present globalized world, no mechanism to ensure any accountability,” the report read.
“Funds, which in the right hands would have saved so many lives. What is most tragic about the whole episode is that several of these organizations had no intention of doing even symbolic help to begin with,” it added.

This whole “farce” pulled out by the so-called charity organizations was not merely a financial fraud but was a crime against humanity at multiple levels, said the report.

The DisInfo lab suggested that the governments – from the USA to India – should take note of the terror-funding money-making machinery and provide some mechanism to ensure transparency from these groups.

“It is worth mentioning that FATF has already raised this concern that a lot of funding in the name of Covid is likely to go towards terror funding. Given the scale of the network of one set of organizations, the scale of total terror funding could only be imagined,” the report read. (ANI)

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Latest News New York

Emmy nominated filmmaker Tirlok Malik to host IYD NY event

New York: Tirlok Malik, Emmy-nominated filmmaker and Happy Life Yoga speaker, will be hosting a Happy Life Yoga event on the occasion of International Yoga Day 2021 on June 19th, 2021 at 10 am, New York EST virtually on Zoom and social media such as Facebook Live (IndusTV and Facebook page of GOPIO Manhattan). The event will be joined by the audiences from many countries. 

The theme of the event is Happy Life Yoga. The event is being presented by GOPIO Manhattan, The Indian Panorama, Indian American Forum and Consulate General of India, New York. Ambassador Randhir Jaiswal, Consul General of India will be the chief guest.  

“Happy Life Yoga follows a basic underlying philosophy. If you feel you deserve and want to live a happier, healthier and more fulfilling life then Happy Life Yoga can show you how. It’s a way of living inspired by the wisdom of Ayurveda, Yoga & Indian philosophy and no mats are needed to practice it,” explains Malik. 

Many experts and honored guest speakers have been lined up to share their wisdom. The list includes the award-winning filmmaker, international entrepreneur, motivational speaker and author, Dr Bhuvan Lall, Sangeeta Agarwal, CEO & Founder, Helpsy, Neil & Andrea Garvey, Publishers/Editors, Creations Magazine, Deborah Fishman Shelby, Founder & Executive Director, FED, Ranju Narang, Director, Educator, Prof. Indrajit Saluja, Chief Editor/Publisher, The Indian Panorama, Indu Jaiswal, chairperson, Indian American Forum, Renee Mehra, and Anil Narang. The event also has a guest singer Pallavi Verma Belwariar.

Happy Life Yoga, an educational platform launched in June 2019 is the creation of Tirlok Malik and the Ayurveda Cafe team. It offers a unique holistic approach to health and happiness using tools from Ayurveda, Indian Philosophy, and Yoga to help better manage modern-day challenges such as work, finances, relationships, family and other social pressures. “After Covid-19, the world has realized that it is very, very important to have good health, physically and emotionally, and the Happy Life Yoga platform can show how. A way of living inspired by the wisdom of Ayurveda, Yoga and Indian Philosophy, Happy Life Yoga can be very, very useful for everyone,” says Malik. “The whole team of this event prays for the wellbeing of the world and is happy to celebrate International Day of Yoga 2021,” Malik adds.

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India Latest News

Delhi doctors say brace for Covid-19 ‘explosion’

In national capital Delhi, thousands of commuters crowded into underground train stations and shopping malls on Tuesday, prompting some doctors to warn it could lead to a resurgence in Covid-19 infections. Major Indian cities have begun lifting strict lockdowns as the nationwide tally of new infections has dropped to its lowest level in more than two months.

But disease experts and doctors have cautioned that a race towards resuming business as usual would compromise vaccination efforts as only about 5% of all 950 million eligible adults have been inoculated.

Doctors say Delhi’s near-complete re-opening is concerning. The city’s authorities have said they would reimpose strict curbs if cases rise.

Thousands died in the capital in May, as oxygen supplies all but vanished and families pleaded on social media over scarce hospital beds.

People paid 20 times the usual price to secure ambulances and hearses, many died in parking lots, and morgues ran out of space.

“Delhi’s top mall saw a footfall of 19,000 people last weekend- as soon as it reopened. Have we gone totally mad? (sic)” Ambrish Mithal of Max HealthCare in New Delhi said on Twitter. “Wait for #COVID19 to explode again- and blame the government, hospitals, country.”

In the early hours of Tuesday, Delhi’s underground rail network put out alerts on Twitter about peak traffic and longer waits, responding to angry commuters angry about long queues.

After a strict five-week lockdown in Delhi, authorities have fully re-opened shops and malls, and allowed restaurants to have 50% seating. Suburban rail networks can run at 50% capacity, and offices have been partially reopened.

Vaccinations have slowed, however; the city government said inoculation centers for people ages 18-44 would start shutting down on Tuesday, as doses were scarce.

“Delhi ought to have unlocked far more scientifically. We are inviting trouble!” Arvinder Singh Soin, a surgeon and leading liver transplant specialist, said on Twitter.


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India Latest News

Govt panel confirms first death after Covid-19 vaccination

The National Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) committee’s report has confirmed that a 68-year-old man died due to anaphylaxis after receiving his vaccine shot on March 8 this year.

The AEFI report shows that three anaphylaxis cases were found to be vaccine product related, the two other cases (21 and 22 years old) were administered vaccines on January 16 and 19 and both of them recovered after being hospitalized.

After assessing 31 serious AEFIs or adverse events following immunization, the government panel has confirmed that one person died due to anaphylaxis after taking the Covid-19 vaccine.

“After thorough investigation it was found that one death has been linked to anaphylaxis post vaccination,” a government official told CNN-News18.

Eighteen of the 31 deaths investigated by the committee were classified as having an inconsistent causal association with vaccination, coincidental but not linked to vaccination. Seven deaths were classified as indeterminate, while two cases were found as unclassifiable.

“Unclassifiable events are those investigated but not found enough evidence for concluding a diagnosis due to a missing crucial information, when the relevant information becomes available, the case may be reconsidered for causality assessment,” the report said.

The cases of Adverse Events Following Immunization after Covid19 vaccination were just 0.01 per cent of the total doses administered and fatalities were even fewer.

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India Latest News

Wuhan lab video of live bats in cages fuels Covid virus leak debate

New footage from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China has revealed that live bats were kept in cages despite the WHO’s claims that such a possibility was a “conspiracy”, reigniting a debate on the origins of the coronavirus.

The infamous lab is at the center of a theory that Covid-19 wasn’t, as many scientists believe, transmitted from bats to people via an unknown intermediary, but was instead leaked, intentionally or not, from the institute.

A joint investigation by the World Health Organization (WHO) and China into the origins of the disease had called the chance of a laboratory leak “extremely unlikely” and the idea that bats were held at the institute “an error”, the NZ Herald reported.

“No BATS were sent to Wuhan lab for genetic analysis of viruses collected in the field. That’s not how this science works. We collect bat samples, send them to the lab. We RELEASE bats where we catch them,” a member of the WHO team, zoologist Dr Peter Daszak, wrote in a December tweet.

“This is a widely circulated conspiracy theory. This piece describes work I’m the lead on and labs I’ve collaborated with for 15 years,” he wrote in another. “They DO NOT have live or dead bats in them. There is no evidence anywhere that this happened. It’s an error I hope will be corrected.”

Earlier this month, Daszak appeared to walk back his earlier denials, writing on Twitter that the WHO team had not asked the institute if they housed bats.

While the lab leak theory has recently gained traction – despite no new scientific evidence – the prospect that Covid-19 jumped from bats into humans via an intermediate animal, a process known as “zoonosis”, still remains the more likely scenario, experts have said.

On Tuesday, the Chinese scientist at the center of theories that the coronavirus pandemic originated with a leak from her specialized lab in the city of Wuhan has denied her institution was to blame for the health disaster.

“How on earth can I offer up evidence for something where there is no evidence?” Dr Shi Zhengli told the New York Times in rare comments to the media. “I don’t know how the world has come to this, constantly pouring filth on an innocent scientist,” she told the US daily.

The leak hypothesis had been floated earlier during the global outbreak, including by US President Joe Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump, but was widely dismissed as a conspiracy theory.

But it has gained increasing traction recently, fueled by reports that three researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology became sick in 2019 after visiting a bat cave in the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan.

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India Latest News

Cases of human magnetism reported in India post vaccination

Multiple cases of human magnetism have been reported from across the country with the latest being a 66-year-old woman from Barasat, which is in Bengal’s North 24 Parganas.

While most of the affected said this sudden phenomenon has happened after they took two doses of vaccine, medical bodies throughout the country, however, debunked the theory.

 Anima Naskar (66) has developed magnetism and metallic items are getting stuck on her body. Unlike many others, she does not blame it on the vaccine but states that since it was on news, her son experimented with her. But in her case, it turned out to be positive.

“I saw on TV that someone in North Bengal has faced similar problems. The man claimed that he has developed this issue post completion of two doses of vaccine. Since I was also done with both the jabs, my son tried sticking coins on my hand and it worked,” said Anima Naskar to India Today TV.

Naskar’s son, Sandeep, stated he would be visiting the local government’s health department in the evening and get it reported. Neither the son nor Naskar blame it on the vaccine, however, they are both curious to know the reason behind it.

“I am not blaming the vaccine, but it is a fact that vaccines were developed fast. Maybe some reaction has occurred with some individuals. Application of talcum powder is dropping these metals from her body,” said Sandeep.

When Anima was asked if she was getting scared of human magnetism, she laughed and said ‘no’.

“I am not afraid at all, just curious to know what is the reason behind this phenomenon,” said a smiling Anima Naskar to India Today TV.

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