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CWC endorses ‘ineffective’ leadership, asks Sonia Gandhi to continue for now

The loyalists turn the tables on the dissenters as the Congress Working Committee decides that Sonia Gandhi will continue as interim party chief till a new president is elected in the next three to six months.

Pankaj Vohra

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As expected, the Congress Working Committee failed to discuss serious issues raised by several senior leaders, but instead slammed them while rejecting Sonia Gandhi’s resignation as the interim president, urging her to continue till her replacement was found in the next three to six months. The stormy meeting turned out to be a blatant display of sycophancy by members whose political relevance is next to negligible as they turned the tables on the “dissidents” by overlooking the important concerns highlighted in the letter to the interim president.

 The so-called dissidents, who include the current leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad and half a dozen former Chief Ministers, found themselves heavily outnumbered, even though the matters raised by them to strengthen the party, have found resonance amongst each and every Congress worker. Ironically, if the letter had not been written and sent to the High Command, the casual approach of the leadership regarding critical subjects would have gone unnoticed.

 In fact, those who dared to bell the cat would have their names carved out in the history of the party, since their political future at the moment looks bleak, given that they would now be targeted by the Gandhis, collectively as well as individually. Multiple messages emanated from the CWC meeting, the foremost being that the party has no option but to accept the “ineffective leadership” that has resulted in a humiliating defeat in two parliamentary elections.

 It was also very evident that Sonia Gandhi believes in status quo, and she managed to keep this opinion intact by ensuring that there was no threat to her leadership; and the position of those whom she trusts remains unaffected. The deliberations, however, damaged Rahul Gandhi, who from being a leader who could have easily been accepted by the entire party, reduced himself to be the head of a faction, after he accused the dissidents of colluding with the BJP. Although Congress spokesman Randeep Surjewala later denied that he had made any such remarks and both Azad and Kapil Sibal tried to play down the accusations, the damage could not be undone.

The CWC conceded the demand to have an elected party president to succeed Sonia, but this entire exercise could get reduced to a farce, if they are held under the overall supervision of the interim chief. Two of her closest aides — Ahmed Patel and Ambika Soni — were very active and openly rooted for Rahul Gandhi to be reinstated, something which appears improbable for the time being. This could have been mere posturing. Significantly, the authors of the letter are opposed to the idea of Rahul returning as the president but majority of them would wholehearted support Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, if she jumped into the fray.

The point that needs to be emphasised is that the issues raised in the letter are indisputable and to begin with, even those close to the Congress president did not refute any of the points but instead questioned the timing of the communication, when Sonia was “ill”. But the same members did not ponder even for a moment for extending the tenure of an “ill” person as the interim president for the next few months.

The washing of dirty linen in public also became a talking point amongst party workers who are keen to have a leader who can show them the way to take on the BJP. From the point of view of the cadres, the allegation made by Rahul against the writers of the letter that they were colluding with the BJP, was to some degree factual, at least in a few cases. Some of these leaders have been in touch with the Saffron Brigade, and would not take any time if they got a chance to shift loyalties.

Simultaneously, the workers want the coterie around Sonia to be held accountable for the current state of the party. It is an overwhelming opinion that Rahul has been damaged more by the Sonia coterie than by the BJP. However, his continuation would benefit the BJP much more than the Congress since his approach to politics lacked the desired gravitas.

Majority of Congress leaders are of the opinion that the decision-making mechanism in the Congress was very centralised; Sonia had all the powers. She was the party chief, the UPA chairperson, the leader of the Parliamentary Party and even during the period of the Manmohan Singh government, she called the shots, being the chairperson of the National Advisory Council and thus the de-facto Prime Minister of sorts.

The demand for the reconstitution of the Parliamentary Board comes in the wake of all decisions regarding the appointments and selection of nominees for the Rajya Sabha and Legislative Council, being taken by the interim president, without any kind of consultations. In the latest instance, the appointment of Ajay Maken in place of Avinash Pande as the general secretary in-charge of Rajasthan has rubbed many seniors the wrong way.

 The Congress could be heading for a split but for the time being, the dissidents stand exposed to the danger of losing their important positions though the Gandhis have also been bruised in this battle that ensued before, after and during the CWC meeting. The status quo shall be maintained and it is more than obvious that the Gandhis are not willing to let go of their hold over the party. At least, not for present.

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APPLE MAY LAUNCH M1X POWERED MACBOOK PRO, MAC MINI IN 2021’S Q4

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Washington: Two MacBook Pro models and one Mac mini are expected to arrive within the fourth quarter of this year, with all three machines fueled by American tech giant Apple’s much-talked-about M1X chipset.

According to The Verge, reports suggest that both the M1X MacBook Pro models, which can likely include a 14-inch and a 16-inch version, alongside a Mac mini, will be launched in late October or early November. Since Apple did announce its M1-running MacBook products last year on November 10, this prediction could hold merit, but a lot can happen within the coming months. From what’s known, both the M1X MacBook Pro models are expected to feature mini-LED screens a bit like the M1 iPad Pro.

Unfortunately, Apple has run into supply issues with this particular component, and to mitigate those problems, the company has reportedly added another supplier to assist with production slowdowns.

Even then, Apple isn’t expected to start out production of the new portable Macs until late 2021, and since the Mac mini can’t be announced as a standalone product since it’ll deduct the spotlight from the MacBook Pro family, it’ll likely be unveiled alongside the 14-inch and 16-inch notebooks.

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HERE’S WHY GOOGLE APP ON ANDROID PHONE KEEPS CRASHING

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Washington: If you are an android user who is struggling with the Google app on your phone, then you are not the only one who is complaining and here’s the reason why.

The search engine giant usually keeps updating all its app and the ‘Google’ app is no different, but Mashable India reported that several people on the internet appear to be going through an annoying issue with the app which constantly makes it crash. Users on Twitter highlighted the issue until the officials from the Android Authority took note and figured out that an update to the app- ‘version 12.23.16.23.arm64 and 12.22.8.23’, is the reason behind the same.

Mashable India learnt that according to the note, there is “no easy way to check if you have an affected version of the app, but if you do have an affected version of the app, you will see repeated notifications that the app has stopped working.”

The issue is reportedly “reminiscent of a recent issue with Android System WebView, which caused Gmail and other Google apps to crash”.

There has been no official fix reported to fix this crash but the subsidiaries of Google have suggested that soft rebooting the phone can act as a potential remedy. Other suggestions include installing the latest beta version of the app, or reverting to a previous version.

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Imran Khan’s comic reply exposes evasion

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is being termed as the world’s leading anti-Islamophobia crusader as he has time and again refused to condemn China’s alleged human rights abuses against the Muslim-majority Uyghur minority in Xinjiang.

In an interview with ‘Axios on HBO’ on Sunday, when Khan was asked about his outspokenness about Islamophobia in Europe and the US but total silence on the genocide of Muslims in Western China, he replied, “This is not the case, according to them (Chinese authorities).” He has himself exposed the parochiality of his much-hyped anti-Islamophobia campaign. Khan, who just two years ago feigned ignorance on the ongoing religious persecution of Uyghur Muslims in China stating he “didn’t know much about it,” is today fully conversant with this issue.

“Whatever issues we have with the Chinese, we speak to them behind closed doors,” Khan said, appearing to imply that his country had taken up the issue with Beijing but doesn’t dare to take issue publically with China. He also admitted that China had been pouring cash into Pakistan, which is too critical of an alliance to challenge. “China has been one of the greatest friends to us in our most difficult times. When we were really struggling, when our economy was struggling, China came to our rescue,” he continued, noting that as a result of such financial assistance, “we respect the way they are.”

Xinjiang is a province in Communist China where an estimated two million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities have been detained since 2016. They are believed to have been placed in detention centres across Xinjiang, according to the US State Department. Many former detainees allege they were subjected to attempted indoctrination, physical abuse, and even sterilisation.

The US government and several Western countries have labelled China’s actions in Xinjiang as genocide. But Khan said Beijing had denied reports of widespread abuses of Uyghur Muslims in private conversations with Islamabad. “We respect the way they are. How come this is such a big issue in the Western world? Why are the people of Kashmir ignored? It is much more relevant,” he said.

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PM TRUDEAU FUELS ELECTION SPECULATION AFTER ‘TOXICITY’ BARB ON CANADIAN PARLIAMENT

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OTTAWA: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, while fuelling speculation regarding early polls, is portraying Parliament as a place of “toxicity” and “obstructionism” as opposed to his minority government’s agenda. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reported that with key Bill being debated in the House of Commons, including Liberals’ budget implementation Bill, time is running short to get outstanding legislation passed. “We have seen a level of obstructionism and toxicity in the House that is of real concern,” Trudeau said outside of the steps of Rideau Cottage.

This comes after Trudeau returned from the Group of Seven (G7), NATO, and Canada-EU summits and is now quarantined under the country’s Covid-19 rules. The Canadian PM on Tuesday had said his government’s push to ban conversion therapy and enshrine the country’s aim to get to net-zero emissions by 2050 can happen with the help of the Bloc Quebecois and NDP. Trudeau said he welcomes parliamentary scrutiny of their work but found it troubling to see opposition MPs bring the head of the Public Health Agency of Canada to be publicly shamed. The opposition is demanding information on why two scientists were escorted from Canada’s highest security laboratory in Winnipeg two years ago and eventually fired. The issue has caused potential security concerns involving China.

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WUHAN LAB’S CLASSIFIED INFO HAMPERING COVID ORIGIN SEARCH

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A review of Wuhan Institute of Virology’s public records and internal guidelines have revealed the existence of unspecified classified projects and discussion of the lab’s responsibilities under China’s state secrets law, that hamper the search for the origins of the virus. This came amid mounting pressure over calls for a fresh probe into the origins of Covid-19.

According to Washington Post, some records mention protocols for disclosing information to foreigners and the sealing of some research reports for up to two decades. Tang Kaihong, a local representative of China’s National Administration for the Protection of State Secrets, discussed the national security risks of the institute’s research and warned of infiltration efforts by foreign spies, according to an account published by the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The secrecy may help to explain why efforts to confirm or disprove the lab-leak theory of the pandemic’s origins have made little progress.

The US President had earlier ordered intelligence agencies to ‘redouble their efforts’ to determine the source of the virus, which is exactly the sort of operation the Wuhan lab prepared for more than a decade ago with the setting up of systems to handle confidential information.

The Wuhan lab has drawn global scrutiny because of its research on bat coronaviruses in the city where the pandemic began. The lab leak theory has recently become the subject of renewed public debate after several prominent scientists called for a full investigation into the origins of the virus.

As China’s threshold for the classification of secrets is lower than in some countries, the country’s State Secrets Law entails information on military and diplomatic affairs and on the country’s economic, scientific and social development to be confidential, reported Washington Post.

The topics of the Wuhan lab’s classified projects are unknown. Its guidelines on information disclosure say the institute shares details of its work with the public, except state secrets, research and work secrets, matters under investigation, and disclosures that would violate the law. This year, the lab distributed forms to students for sealing dissertations on confidential topics. One of the forms said “confidential” dissertations would be sealed for up to 10 years and “classified” ones for up to 20 years.

The hypothesis that the virus was accidentally leaked from the lab was largely disregarded by scientists in the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak. China has repeatedly denied that the lab was responsible for the outbreak.

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GRAVE CONCERNS RAISED ABOUT UYGHUR PERSECUTION AT UN RIGHTS COUNCIL

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Canada delivered a joint statement on behalf of 42 countries at the UN Humans Rights Council, on Tuesday, expressing grave concerns over the “Uyghur genocide” in China’s Xinjiang province,

During the UNHRC meeting on behalf of 40 countries, Canada’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Leslie Norton said, “We urge China to allow immediate, meaningful and unfettered access to Xinjiang for independent observers.” The statement was backed by major countries Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Australia, Britain, Spain and the United States, among others.

Norton also called on China to implement the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination’s Xinjiang-related recommendations, including ending the arbitrary detention of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities. The remarks highlighted reports of torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, forced sterilisation, sexual and gender-based violence, and forced separation of children from their parents by authorities.

“We also share the concerns expressed by UN Special Procedures in their 29 March statement on alleged detention, forced labour and transfers of Uyghurs and members of other Muslim minorities and in a letter published by UN experts describing collective repression of religious and ethnic minorities,” the statement added.

The countries also urged China to allow immediate, meaningful and unfettered access to Xinjiang for independent observers, including the High Commissioner. Despite mounting evidence, China denies mistreating the Uyghurs and goes on to insist it is simply running “vocational training” centres designed to counter extremism. On Monday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet had said that she hopes to agree on terms with China for a visit this year to Xinjiang province, to look into reports of serious abuse against Uyghurs. This is the first time that UN rights official has suggested a timeline for the visit amid the growing pressure from the international community to secure access to Xinjiang.

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