NO MIDNIGHT MASS IN MUMBAI, CHRISTMAS & NEW YEAR SERVICES IN CHURCHES TO END BEFORE 10 PM - The Daily Guardian
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NO MIDNIGHT MASS IN MUMBAI, CHRISTMAS & NEW YEAR SERVICES IN CHURCHES TO END BEFORE 10 PM

Preeti Sompura

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MUMBAI: For the first time, Christmas night services and New Year’s eve mass will be celebrated before 10 pm by all churches of the Christian community in Mumbai. This change of timings has been introduced by churches in adherence to the night curfew imposed from 22 December till 5 January 2021 from 11 pm to 6 am by the Maharashtra government to contain the spread of the Covid-19 infection.

Till now, Christmas services on 24 December were celebrated with a midnight mass starting post 10 pm or at midnight every year in all churches. The same drill was followed on 31 December every year where people of the Christian community would go to churches for New Year’s eve mass post 8 pm or 10 pm. But this year, churches of the city said that they would wrap up all Christmas mass services before 10 pm.

Father Frazer Mascarenhas, parish priest of St Peter’s Church, Bandra West, said, “We have scheduled two Christmas masses at 7 pm and 9 pm on 24 December. The New Year mass will be earlier at 8 pm so that we can complete the services latest by 10 pm following the night curfew restrictions imposed by the state.” In addition, this year, People of the Christian community will be allowed to attend Christmas mass only by invitation and registration.

Ornelius Saldanha, a youth leader of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception (IC) Church, Borivali West said, “People who wish to attend mass need to register and collect a coupon to attend Christmas and New Year mass. People can register with zonal leaders in their respective sectors based on the area where they reside and collect their coupons.”

All standard operating procedures (SOPs) and social distancing measures related to Covid-19 will be followed by churches of Mumbai, said Father Nigel Barrett, spokesperson of the Archdiocese of Bombay. Father Barrett said, “All Christmas and New Year mass services will be ending before 10 pm in all churches of Mumbai. All Covid-19 related SOPs and distancing measures will be followed by churches.”

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Times Square celebrates International Yoga Day with over 3,000 people

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The seventh International Yoga Day was celebrated at the iconic Times Square in New York on Sunday. The day-long yoga festival with the theme of ‘Solstice in Times Square 2021’ was attended by more than 3,000 people where yogis, with their yoga mats and flexible bodies, filled Times Square to mark the start of summer.

Consulate General of India, New York partnered with the Times Square Alliance to host the Yoga celebrations under the theme ‘Solstice for Times Square 2021’.

“As we celebrate yoga at the iconic Times Square – at the crossroads of the world, let us remind ourselves of the truly global embrace of yoga. Yoga was born in India but is part of global heritage today. Yoga is about health, well-being and about living in harmony with nature. Yoga is a way of life and we must try to practice it in its entirety, for a peaceful society and for a greener planet,” Randhir Jaiswal, Consul General told ANI.

“It was an incredible experience leading yoga, pranayama and meditation at Times Square NYC. Seeing thousands of yogis experience stillness amidst the chaos of the city that never stops,” said Ruchika Lal who participated in the event.

In keeping with this year’s global theme – Yoga for Wellness – as coined by the United Nations (UN), the event showcased holistic health, Ayurvedic and nature-based wellness products from Tribes India (TRIFED) and other Indian companies. The stalls attracted a large number of visitors, eager to learn about the uniqueness of Indian Tribal, Ayurvedic and natural products. The registration for the event is full, according to the Times Square website.

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PAK’S LINKS WITH TERRORIST ATTACKS ACROSS WORLD REVEALED IN DOCUMENTARY

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Pakistan’s conspiracy of supporting terrorism has been revealed as links between the various terrorism incidents across the world and the Islamic state have been established in a documentary released by DW News.

Various terrorist attacks across the world had directly or indirectly connected to Pakistan’s intelligent service ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence), according to Richard Kemp, Former Secret Service Coordinator, COBR. “There is no question that the ISI is interested in energising and maintaining the terrorist comforters against the West and somehow you will find links for most terrorist attacks around the world that go back directly or indirectly to the ISI. So they are the major facilitators and supporters and the director of the terrorist actions against the west,” Richard said in a DW documentary.

The deadly terrorist attack of the World Trade Center in the United States in 2001 which claimed around 3,000 lives, was carried by the involvement of David Headley, a Pakistani origin terrorist, the documentary states.

The Mumbai attacks in 2008 were also done by Pakistan-based organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba, along with other attacks, the documentary pointed out.

However, Pakistan has always refuted to take criticism on Lashkar-e-Taiba and calling it a terrorist organisation. Under the presidency of Parvez Musharraf, the intelligence agency of the country has intensified cooperation with terrorist organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba.

“How do you call them terrorists I call them ‘Mujahidin’. It is this organisation of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which is amongst the best NGOs in the world,” Musharraf who is living in exile in the UAE told the documentary makers.

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Swedish PM ousted in no-confidence vote

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Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven was ousted after he lost a no-confidence vote in the parliament on Monday, with a majority of parliament members backing his departure.

The no-confidence motion against Lofven was approved by the parliament with 181 affirmative votes, more than the required 175 votes of the 349-seat parliament, CNN reported. A total of 109 voted no, and 51 abstained. The Swedish Parliament ‘Riksdag’ thus dismissed the government with a historic decision.

Barely a year before a general election, Lofven became the first prime minister in Swedish history to be ousted by a no-confidence motion put forward by the opposition.

As things stand, Lofven has one week to decide his next step which could be either another government that can stand majority in the house or midterm elections.

According to CNN, the nationalist Sweden Democrats had claimed the chance to call the vote after the formerly communist Left Party withdrew support for the centre-left government over a plan to ease rent controls for new-build apartments.

Presently, the maximum chargeable property rent is decided by a government body. The new proposal plans to repeal that. The left party was not in support of the new proposal.

They asked the government to drop this proposal. Since it’s a weak government surviving on the support of many partners they were unable to do so. So the left leader triggered the Vote of No Confidence motion.

The vote was tabled by 35 MPs (minimum needed to table a vote of no confidence) of Sweden Democrats’. Following the vote, Lofven said he would hold discussions with other parties and decide whether to resign or call snap elections within a week.

The Left party blamed the prime minister for the crisis, saying the Social Democrat-led government had “given up on the Left party and the Swedish people”, rather than the other way round.

“It is not the Left Party that has given up on the Social Democrat government, it is the Social Democrat government that has given up on the Left Party and the Swedish people,” said Left Party leader Nooshi Dadgostar.

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Imran Khan’s remarks on sexual violence against women receive severe criticism

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Barely two months after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s comments on sexual violence drew severe backlash, he again invited trouble by suggesting that avoiding “temptation in society” is the way to prevent sexual violence against women.

In April, during a question and answer session with the public, Khan had said that the rise in sexual violence in Pakistan, particularly against children, was caused due to “fahashi” (vulgarity). Defending his earlier remarks, Khan in an interview with Axios’ on HBO said, “…I said the concept of ‘purdah’. Avoid temptation in society. We don’t have discos here, we don’t have nightclubs. It is a completely different society way of life here. So if you raise temptation in society to a point — all these young guys have nowhere to go — it has a consequence in the society.”

Answering a question if the woman’s clothes can provoke sexual violence, Khan said, “If a woman is wearing very few clothes it will have an impact on the men unless they are robots. It’s common sense.”

When further prodded, he added, “It depends which society you live in. If in a society people have not seen that sort of thing, it will have an impact on them.”

Calling Imran Khan a “sick, misogynistic, degenerate”, Pakistan Muslim League (PML) spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb came down heavily on the Pakistan Prime Minister.

“The world got an insight into a mindset of a sick, misogynistic, degenerate & derelict IK. It is not women’s choices that lead to sexual assault rather the choices of men who choose to engage in this dispicable and vile crime,” Aurangzeb tweeted.

“Maybe the misogynist, degenerate can defend Paedophiles and murderers, as he advocates for rapist, after all, men cannot be expected to control temptation. Just FYI Mr degenerate, self-control is a little thing upon which Allah places a great premium,” she added.

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CHINA COAST GUARD VESSELS ENTER JAPANESE-ADMINISTERED SENKAKU ISLANDS

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Two China Coast Guard ships entered Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea on Sunday morning according to Japan Coast Guard, locall media reported.

It was the first intrusion into the waters around the island chain by Chinese government ships since Wednesday and the 20th this year. The Okinawa Prefecture islands are claimed by China, which calls them Diaoyu, reported the Japan Times. China also intruded into Japan’s territorial sea four days in April and five days in May. From January to May, China entered the waters on a total of 20 days.

This has led to a number of incidents where Chinese ships have approached Japanese fishing vessels.

According to Japan Coast Guard’s 11th regional headquarters in Naha, the ships entered Japanese waters southwest of Uotsurijima around 4:40 am.

The Japan Coast Guard warned the Chinese ships to leave the waters as the vessels tried to approach a Japanese fishing boat.

Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said these actions by Chinese ships “are unacceptable” at a news briefing earlier. “We will take all possible measures for vigilant monitoring and intelligence gathering,” he said.

Chinese navy warships have also been spotted around the Nansei Islands, a chain stretching southwest from Japan toward Taiwan.

Japan controls the Senkaku Islands, however, China and Taiwan continue to claim them.

Tokyo maintains the islands are an inherent part of its territory as per history and international law.

China has been increasing its maritime activities in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea over the past few months, partly in response to Beijing’s concerns over the increasing US military presence in the region because of escalating Sino-US tensions.

Recently, tensions between China and Japan have escalated amid increased activity by Beijing in the disputed East China Sea.

This comes after Beijing implemented a new law that allows the country’s quasi-military force to use weapons against foreign ships that China sees as illegally entering its waters.

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‘Chinese loans to other countries are predatory, opaque in nature’

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Chinese loans have surpassed lending by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund combined together. It has become the largest global overseas creditor accounting for close to 65 per cent of the world’s official bilateral debt with outstanding foreign debt estimated to be around USD 5.6 trillion in 2020.

In a White Paper released in January 2021, China dubbed its lending as “international development cooperation within the framework of south-south cooperation” which it is undertaking as a “responsible member of the global community”. But the empirical evidence could be further from the truth. Fabien Baussart, in a blog post of The Times of Israel said that contrary to China’s claims of its lending being a “global public good” laying the foundation of a robust “development cooperation” framework, it has been seen that Chinese loans are predatory and opaque in nature, with terms that are heavily skewed against the borrowing country.

The highly unsustainable levels of debt created by China in the developing world allow it to create economic dependencies and political leverages in these countries, with serious implications for the degree of their sovereignty vis-a-vis Beijing.

Moreover, contrary to common perception, the bulk of Chinese loans (nearly 60 per cent) are offered at commercial rather than concessional rates, which is unusual for overseas “development assistance”, says Baussart.

China has always maintained that its overseas lending follows a “no-strings-attached” approach and respects other countries’ right to select “their own development path” with a focus on “developing countries’ control”.

The stark differences between the rhetoric and reality of Chinese overseas lending are further revealed in a recent (April 2021) report titled “How China Lends: A Rare Look into 100 Debt Contracts with Foreign Governments”, reported The Times of Israel.

The study by Germany’s Kiel Institute and the Washington-based Centre for Global Development, Aid Data, and Peterson Institute for International Economics, analyses a hundred Chinese loan contracts with 24 developing countries, between 2000 and 2020, and compares it with 142 non-Chinese foreign debt contracts across 28 commercial, bilateral and multilateral creditors.

As per the study, a comparison of Chinese and non-Chinese loan contracts reveals that the former is characterised by extremely stringent terms of lending.

These include strict confidentiality clauses barring borrowers from revealing loan terms and often even the very existence of a loan.

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