Police in south India accused of mass murder after shooting dead protesters

Eleven people protesting over pollution from a copper plant have been killed by police in Tamil Nadu in south India

Another person has been shot dead during violent protests in south India against a copper plant operated by a British mining giant residents say is polluting the local environment.

Opposition legislators in the state of Tamil Nadu have accused the police of perpetrating mass murder against protesters opposed to the expansion of a copper smelting facility in the port city of Thoothukudi.

Ten people were shot dead and about 80 wounded by police after crowds set fire to vehicles and pelted officers with stones on Tuesday. Another man, identified by Indian media as a 23 -year-old named Kaliappan, was killed in further protests on Wednesday.

The Madras high court ordered a halting to the expansion of the 400,000 -tonne facility in response to the unrest, and ordered authorities to hold public hearings before granting environmental acceptance to the construction.

The smelter, operated by an Indian subsidiary of London-based Vedanta Resources, has been repeatedly shut down over pollution objections and was penalty PS10m in 2013 for violating environmental norms and operating without the consent of the state pollution board.

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Nine pollution protesters killed in India after police open fire- video report

The same year, activists allege a gas leak from the plant left hundreds with inhaling difficulties, nausea and throat infections.

Residents and environmentalists have been protesting for the past three months against plans to doubled the capacity of the copper plant that they say is polluting the air and fisheries around the site.

Sterlite Copper, the Indian subsidiary that owns the plant, says the facility operates” within all the specified parameters” and blamed the unrest on” nefarious components “.

Outrage over the security forces killings grew on Wednesday, and was fuelled by a video indicating a plainclothes police officer boarding a bus and firing his rifle at protesters. A voice could be heard in the background telling:” At least one should die .”

MK Stalin, leader of the main Tamil Nadu opposition party, the DMK, said police were guilty of atrocities.

” Mass assassination of innocent people ,” he tweeted on Wednesday.” Who ordered the police firing on protesters? Why were automatic weapons used to disperse the crowd and under what law is this permitted ?”

Rahul Gandhi, the national leader of the opposition Congress party, has called the deaths” a brutal instance of state-sponsored terrorism “.” These citizens were murdered for protesting against injustice ,” he said.

P Mahendran, superintendent of Thoothukudi district police, said 18 policemen were also wounded in the clashes.” The situation is tense but under control today ,” he told.” The postmortem on the bodies is being conducted and they will be handed over to families today .”

The plant, about 375 miles( 600 km) south of Tamil Nadu’s state capital Chennai, is currently shut as the company awaits a licence to expand the site.

The protesters had set ablaze the local administrator’s office after they were denied permission to hold a rally at the plant.

Police said efforts to disperse the crowd of many thousands of with a baton charge and teargas volleys failed before authorities use live ammunition.

Tamil Nadu chief minister, Edappadi K Palaniswami, ordered the judicial inquiry into the shootings but defended the police.

” The police had to take action under unavoidable circumstances to protect public life and property as the protesters resorted to repeated violence ,” he said.

The families of each victim would be offered 1 million rupees( PS11, 000) compensation, he added.

A spokeswoman for Vedanta Resources said it had witnessed the deaths at the protest” with great sorrow and regret “.” The company is working with the relevant authorities to ensure the safety of our employees, facilities and the surrounding community ,” she said.

Tamil Nadu is one of India’s most prosperous and industrialised nations but, as elsewhere in the country, environmental regulations are routinely breached and poorly policed.

Thoothukudi was also the site of violent protests in 2012 over a nuclear power plant in neighbouring Kudankulam district that left person or persons dead.

Agence France-Press contributed to this report

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Children’s book praising Hitler as ‘amazing leader’ pulled by Indian publisher

Publisher Pegasus had claimed Hitler was included for his leadership skills, alongside Gandhi, Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela

An Indian publisher has receded a volume for children which included Adolf Hitler on a listing of” amazing leaders … who have dedicated their lives[ to] the betterment of their country and people “.

Pegasus, the children’s volumes imprint of India’s B Jain Publishing Group, confirmed to the Guardian on 26 March that its title Leaders “re no longer” on sale, following widespread criticism of its decision to feature Hitler in the book, alongside the likes of Gandhi, Winston Churchill, Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela.

Published in 2016, the non-fiction title, aimed at infants, provided biographies of 11″ amazing leaders “. According to Pegasus’s description of the book, which also featured Napoleon Bonaparte, India’s prime minister Narendra Modi and Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi,” some are famous, others little known, but all of them energise their adherents and try to build the world better “. Hitler was also included on the book’s cover.

The withdrawal of the book follows worldwide outrage, including from Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in the US, who said the description of Hitler as” dedicated to the betterment of countries and people” would” bring tears of pleasure to the Nazis and their racist neo-Nazi heirs “.

” Adolf Hitler was a visionary – his vision virtually destroyed our planet; started the second world war, which left tens of millions dead and mass-murdered six million Jews during the course of its Nazi Holocaust ,” told Cooper.” Placing Hitler alongside truly great political and humanitarian leaders is an abomination that is made worse as it targets young people with little or no knowledge of world history and ethics .”

Pegasus’s publishing director Annshu Juneja told the New York Times earlier this month, when the book was still on sale, that there had been no previous complaints about it. He said Hitler was included in the book because” his leadership skills and speeches influenced mass “.

” We are not talking about his conduct or his views or whether he was a good leader or a bad leader but simply portraying how powerful he was as a leader ,” Juneja said in the interview.

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The 100 million city: is 21st century urbanisation out of control?

Projections indicate cities will swell at an astounding pace but whether that entails our redemption or an eco-disaster is by no means certain

The 1960 street map of Lagos, Nigeria, shows a small western-style coastal city surrounded by a few semi-rural African villages. Paved roads speedily turn to grime, and fields to forest. There are few buildings over six floors high and not many cars.

No one foresaw what happened next. In merely two generations Lagos grew 100 -fold, from under 200,000 people to nearly 20 million. Today one of the world’s 10 largest cities, it sprawls across nearly 1,000 sq km. Vastly wealthy in parts, it is largely chaotic and impoverished. Most residents live in informal settlements, or slums. The great majority are not connected to piped water or a sanitation system. The city’s streets are choked with traffic, its air is full of fumes, and its main dump covers 40 hectares and receives 10,000 metric tons of waste a day.

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Overstretched City is an in-depth look at how urbanisation has assured cities all over the world mushroom in sizing, putting new strain on infrastructure and resources- but in some cases offering hope for a more sustainable relationship with the natural world.

Over the course of the week, Guardian Cities correspondents will look beyond the numbers to tell the stories of people affected by the 21 st century’s population and consumption boom. From sprawling cities in the developed world the hell is eating more than their fair share of energy and water, to less wealthy cities unequipped to handle the rapid increase in geographical and population size, we will interrogate this global phenomenon by talking to the people who are trying to mitigate its worst effects- and shine a light on the upside of human populations boom by exploring the social and environmental advantages of urban density.

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But new research been shown that the changes Lagos has seen in the last 60 years may be nothing to what might take place in the next 60. If Nigeria’s population continues to grow and people move to cities at the same rate as now, Lagos could become the world’s largest metropolis, home to 85 or 100 million people. By 2100, it is projected to be home to more people than California or Britain today, and to stretch hundreds of miles- with enormous environmental effects.

Makoko,
Makoko, a slum located in a lagoon in Lagos, Nigeria. Photograph: Frederic Soltan/ Corbis via Getty Images

Hundreds of far smaller cities across Asia and Africa has the potential to grow exponentially, say the Canadian demographers Daniel Hoornweg and Kevin Pope at the Ontario Institute of Technology. They suggest that Niamey, the barely known capital of Niger- a west African country with the highest birth rate in the world- could explosion from a city of fewer than one million people today to be the world’s eighth-largest city, with 46 million people, in 2100. Sleepy Blantyre in southern Malawi could mushroom to the size of New York City today.

Under the researchers’ extreme scenario- where countries are unable to control fertility rates and urbanisation continues apace- within 35 years more than 100 cities will have populations larger than 5.5 million people. By 2100, say the authors, the world’s population centers will have shifted to Asia and Africa, with only 14 of the 101 largest cities in Europe or the Americas.

What happens to those cities over the next 30 years will determine the global environment and the quality of life of the world’s projected 11 billion people. It’s impossible to know how exactly how cities will grow, of course. But the stark fact, according to the United nations organization, is that much of humanity is young, fertile and increasingly urban. The median age of Nigeria is just 18, and under 20 across all Africa’s 54 countries; the fertility rate of the continent’s 500 million women is 4. 4 births. Elsewhere, half of India’s population is under age 25, and Latin America’s average age is as high as 29.

Lagos,
Lagos, set to become the largest metropolis the world has ever known. Photo: Pius Utomi Ekpei/ AFP/ Getty Images

Latest UN projections expect the world’s population to grow by 2.9 billion- equal to another China and India- in the next 33 years, and possibly by a further three billion by the end of the century. By then, says the UN, humanity is expected to have developed into an almost exclusively urban species with 80 -9 0% of people living in cities.

Whether those cities develop into sprawling, chaotic slums- with unbreathable air, uncontrolled emissions and impoverished populations starved of food and water- or become truly sustainable depends on how they answer. Many economists argue that population growth is needed to create wealth, and that urbanisation significantly reduces humanity’s environmental effects. Other observers fear cities are becoming ungovernable- too unwieldy to adapt to rising temperatures and sea level, and prone to pollution, water shortfalls and ill health.

Many cities are already investing in clean transport and water, sewage, renewable energy, planning, wellbeing and good housing for all. Others face what seem like insurmountable problems.

All the projections below are based on Hoornweg and Pope’s research paper Population predictions for the world’s largest cities in the 21 st century.

Bangalore, India

Population in 2015: c 7 million
Projected in 2100: c 21 million

Garbage
Rubbish dumped by a lake in Bangalore. Photo: Manjunath Kiran/ AFP/ Getty Images

” This city was renowned for its trees, ponds and pleasant air merely 25 years ago ,” says Tv Ramachandra, head of the Energy and Wetlands Research Group at the Indian Institute of Science.” Now it is a dead city, which has sacrificed its environment for some of the fastest economic growth watched anywhere in the world .”

India, which is widely expected to be the most populous country in the world with more than 1.5 billion people by 2050, has seen its urban population double in 30 years, to nearly 600 million. Its megacities, like Mumbai and Delhi, are not expected to grow much more; instead, smaller cities are rapidly expanding.

Ramachandra and his colleague Bharath H Aithal have documented the environmental effects of breakneck urban growth in Bangalore. They say temperature in the city has increased by 2-2. 5C over the past three decades, while the water table has declined in places from 28 metres down to 300 metres deep; there has been an 88% loss of vegetation and a 79% loss in wetlands, and frequent flooding even during normal rainfall.

Ramachandra fears that what has happened to Bangalore will happen to all Indian cities.” Air pollution is at dangerous levels, the water is polluted, there is nowhere for the waste to run, and the lakes have been killed ,” he says.

One girl’s mission: can Lakshmi find clean water in Bangalore ?

The” hysterium of unplanned urbanisation” is threatening nature as never before, says Prerna Bindra, writer of The Vanishing ,~ ATAGEND a new analysis of how urbanisation and economic growth have affected India’s rich wildlife.” Wetlands, lakes, green spaces are giving way to glass and concrete. The retreat of natural habitats has entailed the rapid decline of urban wildlife- even the once ubiquitous- house sparrows, or the bullfrogs and common toads that serenaded the monsoons, or jackals[ which were] once not a very uncommon sight on urban fringes .”

The solution may be in the hands of the many strong indigenous and middle class groups that have set up in the last 20 years to demand less destructive development and attempt to reduce the use of polluting fossil fuels, enforce conservation laws and educate the authorities concerned. But there is a long way to go.

” The situation is extremely worrying. People are moving out. Maladies are increasing. At this rate every home will need a dialysis machine ,” Ramachandra says.” Bangalore cannot continue like this. It is becoming an unliveable city. This is the worst city in the world for unchecked urbanisation .”

Kinshasa, DRC

Population in 2015: c 12 million
Projected in 2100: c 83 million

A
A boy traverses a river whose banks are littered with rubbish in the Kinshasa neighbourhood of Ngaliema. Photo: John Wessels/ AFP/ Getty Images

Pierre Sass moved to Kinshasa in the 1990 s. Like thousands of young man, he came here looking for work, rented an overcrowded room from a “brother” on the leading edge of the city and, four years later, bought his own plot of land. Today, the edge of the city is 3 miles( five kilometres) away and he has built his own two-room house for himself, his wife and three children. He has energy but no water or drainage.

Kinshasa had just 20,000 people in 1920. By 1940 it was home to about 450,000 people. Today it has perhaps 12 million and is predicted to be Africa’s second largest city with 75 million people inside 50 years. By western standards it is a dysfunctional, sprawling megalopolis, ringed by vast shantytowns of informal settlements, their infrastructure nonexistent or collapsing.

” When you go to there today you see disarray and congestion ,” tells Somik Lall, the World Bank’s lead economist for Africa.” Yes, it will be one of the biggest cities in Africa by 2050, but I do not think it is the model for future Africa , nor do I think it will have a population of 70 million .” He argues that Kinshasa’s current condition is not inevitably indicative of its future status.” There’s no way to say what cities will look like in 2100. Seoul in 1980 could never have predicted how it is today. It was grimy, dirty, industrial city. Africa has a young labour force. Places like Kinshasa are some of the most dynamic places in the world .”

Where
Where the urban sprawl of Kinshasa gratifies the surrounding countryside. Photograph: FredR/ Flickr

He worries, however, that economic growth will not keep up with population growth, as it did in industrialising Asia, Europe and the US.” What seems to be happening in Africa is that it is triggering merely small-scale informal trading[ as opposed to global commerce ]. People coming to cities like Kinshasa are not adding financial benefits. Not enough investment is being constructed in the infrastructure of African cities .”

By 2100, about 40% of all humans and nearly half of all children in the world will be African- one of the fastest and most radical demographic changes in history. It is bound to be a messy transition, Lall tells.” But I am not worried about the grime and grime so much. That comes later. We mix up wanting a city to be productive and be pretty; I want to make sure people get a good job .”

Guiyang, China

Population in 2015: 4.3 million
Projected in 2050: 7 million

Guiyang,
Guiyang, the capital of south-west China’s Guizhou province. Photo: Xinhua/ Alamy

Tan Guo is 24 years old and bewildered. After years living away from Guiyang, she returned last year from Germany to find the formerly small provincial capital had become China’s fastest-growing city, and completely unrecognisable.

The fields her grandparents run, once over eight kilometres from the smaller city centre, are now covered with closely packed high-rises. Her family members live on the eighth floor, seeming over shopping center and ring roads. Former slums have been bulldozed, farmland converted, rivers diverted and forests felled.

” Even the hills look different. I was really shocked. The city stretches in so far. It is like a new world where I know no one and nothing ,” she says.

The scale and velocity of China’s shift to cities is shocking- perhaps the fastest and largest migration of a human population in history. In merely 30 years, virtually 500 million people have moved from rural areas into China’s 622 main cities, and a predominantly rural country has become nearly 60% urban. By 2025, over one billion Chinese- two in three people– will live in cities.

Guiyang is a model of central urban planning from the perspective of people. It has few slums and little sprawl, and its growth has been ordered. But urbanisation has been an ecological disaster. In the early days, pollution turned the Nanming river black and stinking. Air pollution was allowed to continue unchecked, while carbon dioxide emissions emissions rocketed from coal-fired industry, forests were cleared and soil was polluted on a massive scale. And China’s breakneck urbanisation extends beyond its borders, devastating vast areas of Africa and Latin America, where it turned for the raw materials for its industrial revolution.

Tourists
Tourists pose for a photo in Quanhu lake park in Guiyang. Photograph: Alamy

Today, Tan Guo’s Guiyang is still growing at breakneck speed, but authorities are trying to rectify some of the mistakes- though it would take generations to do so. The city has expended $150 m cleaning up the Nanming river and has curtailed new automobile marketings and set quotas on electric car numbers to reduce air pollution.

” Rapid urbanisation was encouraged. It was the way China grew its economy ,” says Gordon McGranahan of the Institute of Development Study in the UK, who specialises in global urbanisation.” China utilized cities to generate growth and land to generate investment. It had to bringing people to the cities; it experimented with converting land to urban areas. Its cities were critical to its growth. No one paid much attention to the environment until it made them in the face .”

Mexico City

Population in 2015: 20 million
Projected in 2050: 25 million

No
‘ No one expected it to grow so much’ … traffic in Mexico City. Photo: Brett Gundlock/ Getty Images

Priscilla Connolly has lived in Mexico City since the 1970 s. In that time, she has ensure it triple in sizing, into one of the world’s five largest cities.

” No one expected Mexico City to grow so much ,” says Connolly, a professor of urban sociology at the Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana.” But for years it was thought that the more people who lived there the very best. There was a pro-population policy. Now the city has stopped growing and medium-sized cities are growing fastest .”

The city is still vastly overcrowded, massively polluted and predominantly poor, with little space to build the 50,000 new houses a year that it needs. But it shows that rapid change can be controlled, and that urbanisation has its benefits.

” There has been progress in so many ways ,” Connolly tells.” Most people can read and are housed. They don’t expect to die at five. All in all it’s been a successful transition, though fraught with future environmental hazard .”

Smog
Smog above the urban sprawl of Mexico City. Photograph: Richard Ellis/ Alamy

Fast-growing cities in Africa and Asia could learn from Mexico City’s mistakes, Connolly says.” Planning and thinking was geared to the idea that automobiles could circulate. Merely 30% of Mexico City has a car, but the city was designed for the car. The 19 th-century sanitary revolution must continue to be rethought. The environmental impacts of urbanisation are much worse outside cities .”

The shantytowns and informal settlements that ringed Mexico City in the 1970 s are now being upgraded. However, environmental issues are still not high on the agenda, and the city has a semi-permanent water crisis.

” Water will be the crunch issue here. Will there be enough water? Probably not ,” Connolly tells.” Person will have to reduce intake. It will need more aggressive policies. Cities must think about the whole water cycle. In 50 years’ period, wastewater will be like gold .”

El Alto, Bolivia

Population in 2015 c1 million
P rojected in 2050: c2. 5 million

India-based music streaming service Gaana raises $115M led by Tencent

Chinese internet giant Tencent is continuing to set its fund in India and in music streaming services after it agreed to lead a $115 million investment in India’s Gaana.

Gaana is a music streaming service that was started by Times Media, the company behind the Times of India newspaper and tech incubator Times Internet among other things, seven years ago. Gaana didn’t disclose its user metrics, but CEO Prashan Agarwal said the company is “only 10% of the way towards building a business useful for 500 million Indians.”

The company plans to use this new capital develop artificial intelligence to create more personalized service and features for listeners. It told also it will develop its paid-user service, too. Aside from a Spotify-like subscription offering, it also provides an ad-based service which is available for free.

Times Internet is already an existing backer and it is the other investor in the deal. Tencent’s involvement represents the first’ outside’ investment money raised for Gaana, which counts Saavn — a firm that created money from Tiger Global and others — and Xiaomi-backed Hungama among its competition.

Spotify has expended the past year assessing the Indian marketplace over a potential move, sources close to the company told TechCrunch. But, with a U.S. public listing happening at the end of March, it isn’t likely to attain the move soon.

Tencent’s investment in Gaana follows a deal with Spotify which find both companies swap shares in December. Tencent Music Entertainment( TME ), the Chinese firm’s subsidiary that manages its music streaming and karaoke services, made an undisclosed minority investment in Spotify through new shares, while Spotify bought a similar undisclosed stake in TME. Added to that, Tencent bought into Spotify by purchasing secondary shares.

While not as prolific as arch-nemesis Alibaba, Tencent — which recently became Asia’s first $500 billion company — has steadily upped its investment in India in recent times. Companies in the country that it has backed include chat app Hike, Amazon rival Flipkart, Uber competitor Ola, medical platform Practo, and education startup BYJU’s.

Given its other music businesses and investments — which include Joox in Southeast Asia and karaoke app Smule — and the fact that TME is widely-tipped to head for an IPO this year, it isn’t a huge surprise to see Tencent expand its India focus with this move into music streaming.

“We are happy to welcome Tencent as a partner in Gaana and benefit from their global learnings. Tencent operates the largest music streaming business in China, and we look forward to working closely with them to continue to innovate and drive the digital music market in India, ” Gautam Sinha, CEO Times Internet, said in a statement.

“As more affordable mobile data schemes are driving smartphone penetration in India, we believe growth in the music streaming marketplace will accelerate. By investing in and collaborating with Gaana, we look forward to bringing more innovation and better experiences to all Indian music devotees, ” added Tencent President Martin Lau.

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Holi 2018: before and after the fun in pictures

About 1,000 widows living in the holy Indian city of Vrindavan have in recent years transgress from tradition to celebrate Holi

Beroza Bus Muthari, 65, has lived in the Vrindavan ashram for widows for nine years
Beroza Bus Muthari, 65, has lived in the Vrindavan ashram for widows for nine years.
Geeta Karmakar, 84, has lived in the ashram for 16 years
Geeta Karmakar, 84, has lived in the ashram for 16 years.
Anjali Rajbongshi, 40, who has lived in the Vrindavan ashram for widows for seven years
Anjali Rajbongshi, 40, has lived in the ashram for seven years.
Manta Devi, 60, who lives in the Vrindavan ashram for widows
Manta Devi, 60, lives in the ashram.
Meena Sarkar, 70, who has lived in the Vrindavan ashram for widows for 11 years
Meena Sarkar, 70, has lived in the ashram for 11 years.
Onima, 60, who has lived in the Vrindavan ashram for widows for 12 years
Onima, 60, has lived in the ashram for 12 years.
Shanti Giri, 60, who has lived in the Vrindavan ashram for widows for four years
Shanti Giri, 60, has lived in the ashram for four years.
Shanti Halder, 70, who has lived in the Vrindavan ashram for widows for eight years
Shanti Halder, 70, has lived in the ashram for eight years.

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WhatsApp has launched person-to-person payments into beta in India

WhatsApp has begun testing a new pays feature in India that will allow people to send money to other WhatsApp users, omitting merchant accounts. The feature is now at beta, according to sources familiar with the company’s schemes, but hasn’t been publicly announced because it’s not widely available at this time.

The company has been working on is supportive of a payments feature for some time, which would take advantage of UPI( Unified Payments Interface) and include support by a number of Indian banks, including State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, and Axis Bank.

Beta testers have now found that this functionality is live, with a large list of supported banks displayed in the WhatsApp user interface.

Image credit: iPhoneHacks

According to screenshots posted to Twitter and elsewhere, including this post from the blog iPhoneHacks, those who have gained access to the new functionality “il be seeing” a payments feature appear in their WhatsApp Settings menu.

Users must then configure the feature by first verifying their telephone number via SMS and choosing a bank. The option to send a payment is then can be found at the main WhatsApp interface, in the same region where you can also share a photo, video, file, contact or place into your chat session.

The Facebook-owned company had received approval from the Indian government to integrate UPI into its messaging service last July in order to implement pays, according to The Economic Times.

The addition puts WhatsApp into rivalry with other messaging services that already support payments, including the recently launched Tez from Google and Tencent-backed Hike , for example, as well as digital wallet platform Paytm, which expanded into messaging in order to take on WhatsApp more directly.

However, WhatsApp’s support for pays is highly foreseen because of the app’s huge popularity among Indian users. India is WhatsApp’s largest marketplace with over 200 million users active daily users. In fact, it’s so heavily used in that country that it’s even led to issues as Indian grapple with the social norms involving daily messaging ranging from phones’ storage filling up with “good morning” messages, to drama over exiting family group chats .

The potential for WhatsApp to predominate Indian P2P pays is strong, bearing in mind the fact that millions of people have come online in the region thanks to lower-cost data schemes and cheap smartphones. The country even surpassed the U.S. for combined iOS and Android downloads for the first time in Q4 2017, according to App Annie, as smartphone adoption is surging.

We understand that WhatsApp will let users know when P2P pays becomes more widely available in India, after the best testing stage completes.

WhatsApp declined to comment on the launch.

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Muslim woman receives death threats after leading prayers in Kerala

Beck Bennett popped up on “” to play a libidinous version of White House doctor Ronny Jackson to take another crack at persuading us how “not fat the president is.”

Lampooning Jackson’s recent press conference and his stellar review of a , Bennett gushed that weighs in at a “very svelte 239 pounds” with a “gorgeous 44 -inch Coke-bottle waist” and “legs that … seem to go on forever.”

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Two suns? No, it’s a supernova drawn 6,000 years ago, say scientists

Indian researchers say carves found in Kashmir may be the oldest depiction of a succumbing superstar ever discovered

For decades, stone carvings unearthed in the Himalayan territory of Kashmir were thought to depict a hunting scene. But the presence of two celestial objects in the depicts has piqued the interest of a group of Indian astronomers.

They have proposed another theory. According to a study published in the Indian Journal of History of Science, the Kashmir rock depicts may be the oldest depiction of a supernova, the final explosion of a dying starring, ever discovered.

Archaeologists procured the carvings nearly half a century ago in Kashmir’s Burzahama site, where the oldest settlements have been dated to about 4,300 BC. It proved two hunters, a bull, and two beaming disks in the sky initially speculated to be two suns.

Stone
Photograph of the carving( left) and sketch( right ). Photograph: Vahia/ Tata Reseach Institute

That explanation did not satisfy Mayank Vahia and a squad of astrophysicists in India and Germany.” Our first argument was, there cannot be two suns ,” Vahia said.” We thought it must have been an object that appeared and attracted “members attention” of the artists .”

Stars that die in astonishing explosions called supernovas release signals that emanate throughout the universe for thousands of years, letting astronomers to trace their timing and coordinates.

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India’s highest court to review colonial-era law criminalising gay sex

Supreme court to re-examine legislation activists say is used to blackmail LGBTI Indians and block HIV and Aids initiatives

India may be on trackfor a major victory for lesbian rights after the supreme court agreed to re-examine a colonial-era statute outlawing sex between men.

The court said on Monday that it would refer the question of the validity of section 377 of the Indian penal code to a larger bench for its further consideration before October.

Section 377, modelled on a 16 th-century British statute, bans” carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, female or animal”, and is punishable by life imprisonment.

About 1,347 occurrences were registered in 2015, most in regards to alleged sex offences against children.

The supreme court observed in 2013 that fewer than 200 people had been convicted of lesbian acts under the legislation, but activists claim it is regularly used to blackmail and intimidate LBGTI Indian, and stymie HIV/ Aids prevention efforts.

Harish Iyer, an activist, said he was ” cautiously optimistic” that the court would scrap the 150 -year-old law. Another LBGTI advocate, Aditya Bondyopadhyay, said the court had already signalled an intention to hear challenges to segment 377,” but at the least now we know when it is going to happen, we have a date “.

A three-judge bench of the court was responding to a occurrence lodged by homosexual activists arguing that the ban had set them at constant danger of apprehend.” A section of people or individuals who exercise their choice should never remain in a state of anxiety ,” the justices said.

” Choice can’t be allowed to cross boundaries of law, but confines of law can’t trampling or curtail the inherent right embedded in an individual under article 21 of[ the] constitution .”

Article 21 of the Indian constitution says:” No person shall be deprived of their own lives or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law .”

The ban on lesbian sex was overturned by the Delhi high court in 2009, but reinstated by the supreme court four years later in a judgment that described widespread disapproval, including from the UN.

The law was thought to be vulnerable to legal challenge since a landmark decision in September, which recognised that article 21 assured a privacy rights. Several supreme court judges noted that sexual orientation fell under the privacy umbrella.

Anand Grover, a senior lawyer who argued the example that initially overturned the law, said the latest challenge had” no choice but to succeeded “.

Bondyopadhyay said it was clear the court had been increasingly bothered by its earlier decision upholding the ban and was looking for an opportunity to correct it.

” There has been so much criticism of the judgment, and mobilisation on the ground and adoption levels have gone up by a lot,[ despite] the conservative forces in the ruling party ,” he said.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata party is seen as generally hostile to gay rights, while Congress, India’s main opposition party, placed the overturning of segment 377 in its most recent election manifesto.

But with the exception of one MP, Shashi Tharoor, the party was unwilling to burn political capital on such issues, Bondyopadhyay said.

India remains a conservative society, but the visibility of LBGTI Indians has grown in the two decades since the first gay pride parade attracted a few dozen marchers in Kolkata in 1999.

LBGTI scenes quietly thrive across the country, though some gay dating apps still flash with warns that users may be perpetrating criminal acts punishable by a life sentence.

A comprehensive survey of young Indians by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies last year detected 61% regarded homosexual “acts” as wrong. Respondents aged 15 -1 7 were most accept, while contrary to trends elsewhere, young Indian in villages were more accepting( 29%) than their equivalents in big cities( 21% ).

Prominent Hindu spiritual guru such as the retail and yoga tycoon Baba Ramdev are vocal foes of homosexuality, but Iyer said the majority religion in India had no official injunction against it.

Some intellectuals have argued that Hindu scriptures and epics repeatedly reference, though do not necessarily endorse, same-sex intercourse, and comfortably accommodate the idea of people transitioning gender.

” I guess respect for homosexuality is part of Indian culture and homophobia is a western import ,” Iyer said.” I am fighting for the right to be Indian, to love everyone .”

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