Morning Digest | U.S. recovers debris of Chinese balloon; four-day logjam in Parliament ends, and more

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February 08, 2023 07:29 am | Updated 07:29 am IST

Sailors assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 2 recover a suspected Chinese high-altitude surveillance balloon that was downed by the United States over the weekend over U.S. territorial waters off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, U.S., February 5, 2023.

Sailors assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 2 recover a suspected Chinese high-altitude surveillance balloon that was downed by the United States over the weekend over U.S. territorial waters off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, U.S., February 5, 2023. | Photo Credit: Reuters

U.S. recovers balloon debris, China protests

United States authorities have begun collecting remnants of the Chinese surveillance balloon that was shot down on Sunday, sparking a diplomatic row between Washington and Beijing. The Chinese government on Tuesday reiterated its criticism of the shooting down of the balloon, calling it an “overreaction”. The Biden administration has asserted that downing the balloon is not a violation of international law.

Turkey-Syria quake toll tops 7,800 as rescuers battle cold

Rescuers in Turkey and Syria battled bitter cold on Tuesday in a race against time to find survivors under buildings flattened by an earthquake that killed more than 7,800 people. The 7.8-magnitude quake struck on Monday as people slept, flattening thousands of structures, trapping an unknown number of people and potentially impacting millions.

Parliament logjam ends; AAP, BRS persist with Adani debate demand

Ending the four-day logjam in Parliament, most Opposition parties — barring the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) — decided to participate in the debate on the motion of thanks to the President, even in the absence of a focused debate on the Hindenburg revelations about the Adani group and its impact on LIC and SBI. Even though the Opposition publicly expressed its willingness to participate in Parliamentary proceedings, both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha failed to function in the first half of the day.

Biden aims to deliver reassurance in State of Union address

President Joe Biden is ready to offer a reassuring assessment of the United States’ condition rather than roll out flashy policy proposals as he delivers his second State of the Union address on Tuesday night, seeking to overcome pessimism in the country and concerns about his own leadership.

Zoom to shed about 1,300 jobs as pandemic-fuelled demand slows

Zoom Video Communications Inc said it would cut about 1,300 jobs, as demand for the company’s video conferencing services slows with the waning of the pandemic, and take a related charge of up to $68 million. While announcing the layoffs, which will hit nearly 15% of its workforce, Chief Executive Officer Eric Yuan said he would take a pay cut of 98% for the coming fiscal year and forego his bonus.

Myanmar’s civil war gets too close to India’s border for comfort 

The civil war in Myanmar is getting too close to the Indian border for comfort and could heighten the refugee problem, security officials in the border States of Manipur and Mizoram said. In January, local organisations in Mizoram’s Champhai district had flagged the impact of bombing by Myanmar’s Armed Forces “perilously close” to the border between the two countries. The air raids were on camps of ethnic armed groups resisting the Myanmar junta. 

No proposal to bring quota for transgender persons: Government in LS

There is no proposal to bring in reservations for transgender persons in education or employment, according to the Social Justice Ministry’s response to a question in the Lok Sabha. Minister of State for Social Justice A. Narayanaswamy said that the Ministry had no information on the number of trans people employed in the government and private sector, adding that so far, just 10,635 people had registered on the national portal.

AgustaWestland chopper scam | SC denies bail to alleged middleman Christian Michel James

The Supreme Court denied bail to Christian Michel James, an alleged middlemen in AgustaWestland chopper scam cases, who is being probed by both the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate. A bench of Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justices P.S. Narasimha and J.B. Pardiwala said that argument of Mr. James that he be released on bail on the ground that he has completed half of maximum sentence in the cases cannot be accepted.

Centre launches Periyar river conservation project

In a significant development, the Central government has launched a programme for conserving the 244-km-long Periyar river in Kerala. The waterbody is among six rivers across the country that are being covered under the National River Conservation Plan. The other rivers are Barak, Mahanadi, Narmada, Godavari and Kaveri. According to officials, the project is being implemented in association with the State Forest department, Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR) and Periyar foundation.

Interests of poor at centre of every budget presented by BJP government: PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserted that interests of the poor have been at the centre of every Budget presented by his government. Addressing the first BJP parliamentary party meeting after the Union Budget was presented on February 1, he said no one is calling it a chunavi Budget (budget influenced by polls) even though it was the last full-fledged one before the next Lok Sabha polls. In his address, the Prime Minister also spoke about the devastating earthquake which has hit Turkey and Syria and noted that India is providing all possible assistance.

Indian-American student named ‘world’s brightest’ by Johns Hopkins for second consecutive year

Indian-American schoolgirl Natasha Perianayagam was named in the "world’s brightest” students list for the second consecutive year by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins Center For Talented Youth, based on the results of above-grade-level tests of over 15,000 students across 76 countries. Her results in the verbal and quantitative sections levelled with the 90th percentile of advanced Grade 8 performance, which catapulted her into the honours list that year.

SC dismisses Rana Ayyub’s plea challenging U.P. special court summons in money laundering case

The Supreme Court dismissed a writ petition filed by journalist Rana Ayyub challenging a summons order issued to her by a Special Court in Uttar Pradesh on a complaint filed by the Enforcement Directorate under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. The court said Ms. Ayyub was free to raise the question of territorial jurisdiction before the Special Court.

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