November 19, 2018

A tale of two speeches as Davos week begins

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DAVOS: The global elite begin a week of earnest debate and Alpine partying in the Swiss ski resort of Davos on Tuesday, in a week bookended by two presidential speeches of historic import.

One will be by Xi Jinping, the first Chinese president to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos. He is expected to seek to turn the page on the US-led polity for trade that has governed since World War II in favour of a “multipolar” approach.

The other speech will be by Donald Trump when he is inaugurated in Washington as the 45th US president on Friday. His barnstorming conquest of the White House has left many in the globetrotting Davos crowd agog at his repudiation of all that they stand for — liberal thought, free trade and open borders.

Around 3,000 government leaders, captains of industry, stars of screen and agenda-setting thinkers are braving heavy snow and the chill winds of an anti-globalisation revolt by Western voters to congregate in Davos for the 47th World Economic Forum.

Conscious of the revolt, organisers are billing the four days of discussions as “A call for responsive and responsible leadership”, and top business executives agree that they must not appear oblivious to public anger.

“The advantages of globalisation are more clear in emerging markets then in developed countries. We have to listen, to help people that are concerned,” Sergio Ermotti, chief executive of Swiss banking giant UBS, told AFP.

A World Economic Forum study said that within advanced economies, median per capita income fell on average 2.4 percent over the past five years, helping to explain why disaffection is so high across the West.

And the scale of the chasm between the richest and poorest was laid bare by an Oxfam report that said eight men own the same wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population.

The eight include Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who is speaking at the forum this week, and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, which like several other companies has remodelled a Davos shop as a promotional “pop-up” venue.

– Perils and parties –

Other research presented by the consultancy Edelman found public confidence in institutions including in governments, business, the media and NGOs slumping across the rich world.

“There is growing despair about the future, a lack of confidence in the possibility of a better life for one’s family,” chief executive Richard Edelman said.

The sense that the world is at an inflection point is apparent in the topics of debate at Davos, across hundreds of different panels.

One panel Tuesday will discuss “Why facts don’t unify us” any more. Another will ask whether the future of work is pregnant with “Promise or peril”, given the impact of technology on jobs, a theme that is resonating loudly on the electoral front with Trump’s victory, Britain’s vote to quit the European Union and the rise of far-right parties across Europe.

China, meanwhile, is selling itself as the future as it touts new types of trade agreement shorn of US influence.

But China is in fact a self-serving “mercantilist” power that is not interested in crafting a beneficial new order, IHS Markit chief economist Nariman Behravesh said.

“So after Mr Xi’s warm words, what is China actually going to do differently? I’m not going to hold my breath,” he told AFP.

Away from debates on weighty issues such as reform of capitalism, artificial intelligence and a cure for cancer, Davos attendees including China’s richest man Jack Ma and Hollywood star Matt Damon will get to unwind at exclusive apres-ski events dotted around the town.

But the party for “Davos Man” may be drawing to a close if the anti-elite backlash intensifies.

British Prime Minister Theresa May will address the World Economic Forum on Thursday, two days after outlining her vision for Brexit in another keenly awaited speech. Her predecessor David Cameron is also attending Davos, and will no doubt offer some rueful remarks on how he so badly misjudged the mood of British voters.

But the week’s most consequential speech will come in Washington as Davos winds down Friday. What response, if any, that Trump offers in his inaugural address to Xi’s vision for an alternative world order will provoke much soul-searching among the forum’s great and good.

Canada to deport LTTE member to Sri Lanka

Delhi/India/Politics/World by

TORONTO: Canada will finally deport a former Tamil Tiger who raised funds for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Manickavasagam Suresh was sent by the LTTE to Canada in 1990 to serve as the coordinator of the World Tamil Movement to raise funds from the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora.

Canada’s federal court has upheld his deportation because he was a member of a terrorist organisation which Ottawa had banned. The court held that he was complicit in war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The Tamil Tigers ran notorious fund-raising operations in Canada in the 1990s, with the World Tamil Movement serving as their front. Their fund-raising operations sometimes amounted to extortion.

Suresh was arrested in 1995 and ordered to be deported to Sri Lanka. But his deportation was stopped by the Canadian Supreme Court on the grounds that he faced torture on his return to Sri Lanka. 

But in 2008 when Canada banned the LTTE as a terrorist organisation, the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada ordered his deportation in 2015 on the grounds that he was inadmissible in Canada because his membership of a terrorist organisation.

He appealed in the federal court of appeal against his deportation. But the court has now upheld the decision of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada to deport him to Sri Lanka.

Suresh will be the first high-profile former Tamil Tiger to return to Sri Lanka since the end of the ethnic conflict in 2009.

Canada is home to the largest Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora.

Severe cold shuts Kashmir University for 10 days

Delhi/India/Politics by

File picture of vehicles moving towards Jammu-Srinagar highway closed due to heavy snowfall in Kashmir valley. (PTI)

SRINAGAR: Intense cold and extremely slippery road conditions prompted the Kashmir University on Tuesday to postpone the day’s scheduled exams and suspend classes for the next 10 days, an official said.

Following a day’s relief, the intense cold wave returned as night temperatures throughout the Kashmir Valley dropped below the freezing point, the Met data showed.

A clear sky has induced the biting cold condition in both the valley and the Ladakh region as they reel under a severe cold wave, a Met department official told IANS.

The minimum temperature dropped to minus 1.9 degrees Celsius in Srinagar while it was minus 12.0 and minus 10.2 in Pahalgam and Gulmarg, respectively.

In the Ladakh region, Leh recorded a minus 13.7 while Kargil recorded minus 10.8 degrees Celsius as the night’s lowest temperature.

Jammu city was at 5.8, Katra 5.4, Batote minus 1.4, Banihal minus 6.6 and Bhaderwah was at minus 5.0 degrees Celsius, the official added.

The Kashmir University, which had earlier decided to keep the classes on to compensate for the time lost due to the over five-month long summer unrest in 2016, was forced to shut doors.

The weather office has predicted moderate rain and snow at many places in Jammu and Kashmir till Wednesday.

Trump meets King's eldest son on civil rights holiday

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Martin Luther King III, son of Martin Luther King Jr., arrives at Trump Tower in New York, Monday, Jan. 16, 2017. (Photo | AP)

NEW YORK: President-elect Donald Trump on Monday praised Martin Luther King Jr as a “great man” and met with his eldest son on the US holiday honoring the slain civil rights icon, amid a brewing spat with one of King’s close collaborators, John Lewis.

The meeting — just days before Trump takes office swearing — appeared to be an effort by the Republican to reach out to the black community amid his public stand-off with Lewis, a high-profile lawmaker who has questioned the legitimacy of the US presidential election and vowed to boycott the inauguration.

“Celebrate Martin Luther King Day and all of the many wonderful things that he stood for,” Trump tweeted prior to the meeting. “Honor him for being the great man that he was!”

Martin Luther King III deemed his Trump Tower meeting with the president-elect “constructive.”

“He said that he is going to represent Americans,” King III said. “He’s said that over and over again. We will continue to evaluate that.”

“I believe that’s his intent — I believe we have to consistently engage with pressure, public pressure.”

– ‘The heat of emotion’ –

In an interview on Friday, Lewis had cited what he dubbed Russian interference in the November 8 election as his reason to pass on the inauguration for the first time since he joined Congress in 1987.

“I don’t see this president-elect as a legitimate president,” the Georgia lawmakers told NBC’s “Meet the Press” talk show.

On Saturday, Trump hit back at Lewis — one of the “Big Six” civil rights leaders along with King who helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, when King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech.

“Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results,” Trump said.

“All talk, talk, talk — no action or results. Sad!”

When asked about the spat, King III — possibly trying to soothe tensions — said that “things get said on both sides in the heat of emotion.” 

He did however defend Lewis: “Absolutely I would say John Lewis has demonstrated that he is action.”

Lewis — who was beaten while leading the Alabama civil rights march known as “Bloody Sunday” — is the most prominent of more than two dozen House Democrats now vowing to boycott Friday’s inauguration ceremony.

– Voting rights –

King III said he and the president-elect had touched on voting rights during their meeting, an issue that is known to disproportionately affect minority voters. 

African-Americans have mainly been loyal Democratic voters for decades, and party officials believe that Republican governors are aiming to limit their turnout by creating controversial laws requiring voters to first show photo ID cards.

“The seminal right of the modern civil rights movement was the right to vote,” King’s son said. “My father fought so diligently for it.”

“It is very clear that the system is not working at its maximum.”

Barack Obama, along with First Lady Michelle, celebrated his last Martin Luther King Day as president by helping students paint a mural featuring the civil rights icon and butterflies.

Owaisi booked in UP for violation of Model Code of Conduct

Delhi/India/Politics by

Hyderabad MP and AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, one of the opposition leaders in Telangana assembly. (File | PTI)

SAHARANPUR: An FIR has been lodged against AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi for violating the Model Code of Conduct here, police said today.

Additional Superintendent of Police Sanjay Singh said apart from Owaisi All-India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (AIMIM) Assembly poll candidate Talat Khan has also been booked in the case.    

Singh said according to a complaint filed by SI Anil Kumar, posters of AIMIM have allegedly been pasted on the walls of the power corporation property, religious places and private shops.         

Police has registered a case under section 171H of IPC (illegal payments in connection with an election), he said.  

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