Former US President Barack Obama’s administration knowingly funded a sanctioned affiliate of the pan-Islamist banned terror outfit al-Qaeda, as per a recently released report of a US Senate committee.
The report is based on a probe by the office of the Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) into the Obama administration’s approval of a $200,000 grant to a US evangelical aid organisation World Vision for the al-Qaeda affiliate, Islamic Relief Agency (ISRA).
Incidentally, World Vision works in India as well and is a member of InterAction, America’s largest alliance of international non-profit organisations. Last year, news agency IANS in a major expose revealed how the US government agencies have been funding the Islamic charities linked to terror groups based in Pakistan and the Middle East through InterAction.
InterAction’s Together Project involves the most controversial Islamic charities including Helping Hand for Relief & Development (HHRD), which works with the charitable and political wings of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistani terror outfit directed against India in Kashmir.
The US Senate probe into World Vision and its ties with ISRA had been initiated in 2019 after the Middle East Forum’s Sam Westrop and Cliff Smith exposed the details through a series of articles published in 2018.
In January 2014, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded World Vision a grant of $723,405 grant for providing humanitarian services to the conflict-torn Blue Nile region of Sudan. World Vision outsourced the services to ISRA, with which it had collaborated earlier too.
But ISRA has been sanctioned by the US government since 2004. World Vision in its defence has claimed that it was unaware about the sanctions against ISRA over its ties to terrorism.
Though the Senate committee report has exonerated World Vision of any intentional wrongdoing, it lashed out at the charity for illegally sending government funds to ISRA. Though World Vision was notified of ISRA’s status as a sanctioned entity in September 2014 and its payments halted, yet it sent requests that ISRA be awarded a temporary licence to complete the contract. Despite official confirmation about ISRA’s sanctioned status, the US State Department on May 4, 2015, asked the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to oblige World Vision.
The OFAC granted World Vision the licence to pay ISRA $125,000 for its services but later sent it a “cautionary letter” informing it that its collaboration with ISRA violated the Global Terrorism Sanction Regulations.
In its report, the Senate committee report concluded that World Vision had “access to the appropriate public information and should have known how, but failed to, properly vet ISRA as a sub-grantee, resulting in the transfer of US taxpayer dollars to an organisation with an extensive history of supporting terrorist organisations and terrorists, including Osama Bin Laden.”
Describing World Vision’s vetting as “borderline negligent”, the US Senate committee said the organisation “ignored elementary level investigative procedures.” World Vision, it said, has a “duty to ensure that funds acquired from the US government or donated by Americans do not end up supporting terrorist activity.”
“Moreover, although we find no reason to doubt World Vision’s assertion that the funds in their entirety were used by ISRA for humanitarian purposes, that money inevitably aids their terrorist activities,” the Senate committee said.
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Independence Day: West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee joins dance and folk artistes
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee hoisted the national flag in Kolkata on Monday. On the occasion of Independence Day, Banerjee also joined artistes during their performances.
Meanwhile, artistes across the eastern state were seen performing at the event where CM was seen first cheering and lauding the performances. Earlier, Banerjee also extended her wishes on the 76th Independence Day.
“On the completion of 75 years of Independence, India must awaken to the real essence of Independence. We must stay true to the vision of our forefathers and keep the aspirations of our future generations at heart. My heartfelt greetings to all my fellow citizens. Jai Hind!,” CM Banerjee tweeted.
Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ campaign. He called upon the people of the country to join it. PM Modi said that the tricolor not only has three colors, but it is also a reflection of our commitment to the present, our past glory, and our dreams for the future.
However, Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav is an initiative of the government to celebrate 75 years of Independence. The national flag will be hoisted in every house of the country till 15th August.
UK approved Modern vaccine targeting Omicron
The updated Moderna vaccine against COVID-19, which targets both the original form and the Omicron variant, was approved by the UK on Monday, making it the first nation to do so. The bivalent vaccination produced by US pharmaceutical company Moderna as a booster for adults has received approval from the Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
The Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) authorised the vaccine for adult booster doses “after it was found to meet the UK regulator’s standards of safety, quality and efficacy” and to elicit a “strong immune response” against both strains, according to a statement.
Clinical study data that indicated the booster elicited “a significant immune response” against both Omicron (BA.1) and the original 2020 virus, according to the MHRA, were the basis for the agency’s approval.
The MHRA also highlighted a preliminary analysis in which it was discovered that the shot produced a strong immunological reaction against the two currently predominant Omicron offspring, BA.4 and BA.5.
MHRA chief executive June Raine said in a statement, “The first generation of COVID-19 vaccines being used in the UK continue to provide important protection against the disease and save lives.”
“What this bivalent vaccine gives us is a sharpened tool in our armoury to help protect us against this disease as the virus continues to evolve.”
Srinagar encounter update: Police Constable Sarfaraz Ahmad killed in J&K’s Srinagar
Police Constable Sarfaraz Ahmad who succumbed to injuries during the encounter died on Monday. The encounter broke out in the Nowhatta area of Srinagar on Sunday.
Taking to Twitter Jammu and Kashmir police said, “Police personnel namely Ct Sarfaraz Ahmad R/O Batote Ramban who was injured yesterday during an anti-terrorist operation, succumbed to his injuries & attained #martyrdom. We pay rich #tributes to the #martyr for his supreme #sacrifice made in the line of duty. @JmuKmrPolice”
Earlier, the police officials seized the vehicle (scooter) used by two LeT terrorists and one AK-74 rifle, and two grenades.
“Vehicle (scooter) used by two #terrorists of #terror outfit LeT seized from the incident site. Besides, one Ak-74 rifle and two grenades have been recovered. Search still going on,” the Jammu and Kashmir police.
Meanwhile, the officials informed about Ahmad’s injuries during the combat. “In the ongoing encounter, one police personnel namely Constable Sarfaraz Ahmad, resident of Batote Rambon got injured. He was evacuated to the hospital for treatment. One terrorist also got injured. Search still going on. Further details shall follow,” the Jammu and Kashmir said.
However, further details are awaited.
Children rejecting foreign toys reflect “AatmaNirbhar Bharat”
On the 75th Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered a speech from the Red Fort’s ramparts, saying that even a 5-year-old child would not play with foreign toys, reflecting the spirit of independent India in him and the fact that “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” runs through his blood.
He said, “I want to salute the little children between 5 and 7 years of age. The nation’s consciousness has been awakened. I have heard from countless families that 5-7-year-old children tell their parents that they do not want to play with foreign toys. When a 5-year-old child makes such a resolution, it reflects the spirit of self-reliant India in him and ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ runs through his veins.”
The PM also praised the Indian toy business in his monthly “Mann ki Baat” radio show in July, stating that exports had increased to Rs 2,600 crore from Rs 300-400 crore.
Last year, the prime minister urged people to be “vocal for local toys,” noting that India imports roughly 80% of toys, with millions of rupees flowing to foreign countries. He stressed the importance of changing this situation.
Modi had made a pitch for boosting the nation’s position in what he called the “Toyconomy,” or the economic aspects of the toys and gaming industry, noting that India’s share of the global toy market, which is estimated to be 100 billion dollars (over 7.5 lakh crore), is only about 1.5 billion dollars (over 11,000 crore).
Celebrating India’s achievements at 75
As India celebrates 75 years of Independence, India has channeled her civilizational strengths and cultural diversity into a brand new shared future, and opportunities for achievement, progress, and prosperity for its billion-plus citizens. Here is a list of what we have achieved since 15 August 1947.
Indian Premier League (IPL)
Indian Premier League (IPL) is an Indian professional T20 cricket league established in 2008. Lalit Modi proposed the idea of IPL and superheaded the IPL effort. It was founded by the Board of Control of Cricket in India in 2007. It is usually held between March and May of every year. In a high-profile ceremony in New Delhi, the first season was slated in 2008. The first season of IPL was won by Rajasthan Royals, captained by Shane Warne. To date, there have been fifteen seasons of the IPL tournament. Moreover, there are 10 teams they are; Chennai Super Kings, Delhi Capitals, Gujarat Titans, Kolkata Knight Riders, Lucknow Super Giants, Mumbai Indians, Punjab Kings, Rajasthan Royals, Royal Challengers Bangalore, and Sunrisers Hyderabad. The teams representing different Indian cities compete against each other. IPL is the most-attended cricket league in the world which revolutionized the game.
Success of Unified Payments Interface (UPI)
India’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI) has become the best-performing real-time ecosystem in the world with nearly 6 billion transactions a month. According to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, India’s digital economy could create $1 trillion in economic value in 2025. Earlier on 11 April 2016, NPCI conducted a pilot launch with 21 member banks by Dr. Raghuram G Rajan, Governor, RBI at Mumbai. On 25 August 2016 onwards Banks started to upload their UPI-enabled Apps on the Google Play store. These are the top seven UPI apps used in India; Google Pay, PhonePe, Paytm, BHIM App, Amazon Pay, BHIMSBI Pay, and MobiKwik. Meanwhile, from 21 banks in April 2016, the total number of banks linked to the UPI platform as of Feb 2022 is 304.
Vaccination Drive of India
The ongoing COVID-19 vaccine drive in India rolled out the world’s largest COVID-19 vaccination drive. The COVID-19 vaccination drive in India was started on 16 January 2021 across 3006 vaccine centers in all its states and union territories. The vaccination drive in India has been initiated with two types of vaccines: Covishield and Covaxin, being manufactured by Serum Institute of India Ltd. and Bharat Biotech International Ltd. On the first day itself, 1,65,714 people were vaccinated and were administered to a sanitation worker at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi. As of now, 2,08,25,13,831 vaccines have been administrated to the people. Earlier, on 30 January 2020, India reported its first case of COVID-19 in Kerala.
Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM)
The Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), also called Mangalyaan was launched on 5 November 2013 by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It is a space probe orbiting Mars since 24 September 2014. The Mangalyaan was launched from the First Launch Pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre (Sriharikota Range SHAR), Andhra Pradesh. For the launch Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket C25 was used. Mangalyaan was the world’s cheapest mission to the red planet which cost just Rs 447.39 crore. “Unlike the Mars mission, which was a one-time project when cleared, the GSAT program envisages launching several more satellites. Therefore, the money saved from its launch is with Isro to be used for future satellites,” a senior official said. The spacecraft instruments which were used are Mars Color Camera, Lyman Alpha Photometer, Thermal Imaging Spectrometer, Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyzer, and Methane Sensors for Mars.
Statue of Unity
The Statue of Unity is the World’s Tallest Monument and is the most prolific creator in recent times. The Statue of Unity is dedicated to one of India’s founding fathers, and the country’s first Deputy Prime Minister, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel with a height of 182 meters. It has been created as a tribute to the ‘Iron Man of India’. The Statue of Unity is divided into 5 zones out of which 3 are accessible to the general public. It can accommodate 200 visitors at a time and location at a height of 153 meters. It is located at Sardar Sarovar Dam, in Kevadia, Gujarat.
Har Ghar Tiranga: 44 million Tiranga Selfies uploaded so far
On the Har Ghar Tiranga website, nearly 44 million people have posted selfies with the Indian flag, and the government has changed the caller tunes on phones to urge more people to follow suit.
Culture ministry official stated, “Our aim is to run it throughout the day to promote the Har Ghar Tiranga movement and encourage people to upload selfies with the flag.”
The website reports so as of 11:59am, 44963700million selfies have been submitted, and the number is increasing every second, the official stated.
Additionally, the website has been pinned with more than 50 million digital flags.
Amit Shah, the home minister, as well as the cricketers Sachin Tendulkar and Rohit Sharma and the actors Amitabh Bachchan, Rajnikanth, and Anupam Kher have also posted selfies.
The union government has contracted with roughly 200 manufacturers, including small and medium-sized businesses and self-help organisations, to produce the flags in order to have them displayed in 200 million homes between August 13 and August 15 in honour of 75 years of independence.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi officially commenced the government’s 75-week countdown to the 75th anniversary of Independence from Sabarmati Ashram on March 12, 2021.
These events, which are spread over 28 States, 8 UTs, and more than 150 countries, are centred on 5 major themes that guide our commemorative and festive endeavours. (Freedom struggle, [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]).
The movement, a ministry of culture initiative to commemorate “Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav” celebrations for India’s 75th year of independence, will help “deepen our bond with the national flag,” PM Modi said in a tweet
Taking to Twitter he wrote, “This year, when we are marking Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, let us strengthen the Har Ghar Tiranga Movement. Hoist the Tricolour or display it in your homes between 13th and 15th August. This movement will deepen our connect with the national flag,
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