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Morning digest: Centre in talks with J&K and Ladakh on special status, China-U.S. trade deal announced, and more

The Ministry of Home Affairs office at North Block in New Delhi. File

The Ministry of Home Affairs office at North Block in New Delhi. File   | Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy

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A select list of stories to read before you start your day

‘Centre in talks with Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh on special status’

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is holding consultations with the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and Ladakh to grant them “special status” on the lines of Article 371 of the Constitution, a senior government official said. The said provision is applicable in States of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Nagaland, Assam, Manipur, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Karnataka to protect their unique cultural identity and economic interest.

Supreme Court issues notice to Election Commission on ‘discrepancies’

The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Election Commission of India (ECI) to respond to a petition filed by two NGOs seeking a probe into alleged discrepancies between voter turnout and the number of votes counted in 347 constituencies in the 2019 Lok Sabha election. “The lack of reasoned explanation by the Respondent No.1 (Election Commission of India) on mismatch and the clean-up of certain data from its website has caused serious doubts in the mind of citizens about the entire process of counting and result declaration,” said the petition filed by the Association for Democratic Reforms and Common Cause, represented by advocates Prashant Bhushan and Neha Rathi.

Supreme Court says no minors were held in Jammu and Kashmir

The Supreme Court on December 13 disposed of a writ petition filed by activist Enakshi Ganguly alleging that minors aged under 18 and as young as nine were illegally detained in the Valley following the abrogation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 on August 5. The court relied on a detailed ground report submitted by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Juvenile Justice Committee led by Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey and three other High Court judges who made visits to the detention centres and jails to check the veracity of reports published in international and domestic media that children were detained. The committee said it did not find any children under detention.

Ground Zero | Hyderabad veterinarian rape and murder: Rape, rage, and an exchange of fire

While the rape and murder of a young veterinarian on the outskirts of Hyderabad sparked fear and outrage across the country, the killings by the police of the four accused have been met with mixed reactions. Abhinay Deshpande pieces together the details of the ghastly incidents

2019 Winter Session of Parliament: Opposition protests disrupted Rajya Sabha live telecast four times

Live transmission of the Rajya Sabha debate was disrupted four times including this session and on each occasion the immediate provocation was protests from the Opposition on various issues. The first instance was November 21, when the Opposition raised the issue of electoral bonds and privatisation of public sector units. The transmission was suspended on the directions of Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu for three minutes from 12.01 p.m. to 12.04 p.m.

Convene all-party meeting on northeast: Anand Sharma

Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma on Friday spoke in the Rajya Sabha of the worsening law and order situation in the northeastern region, demanding that Prime Minister immediately convene an all-party meeting on the issue. Raising the issue during Zero Hour, Mr. Sharma said an all-party meeting was a must in view of the fallout in India’s external relations, particularly with Bangladesh.

Rahul Gandhi’s ‘rape in India’ remark rocks Lok Sabha

The last day of the Lok Sabha in the Winter Session saw proceedings being adjourned twice and an uproar over Congress member Rahul Gandhi’s “rape in India” barb at Prime Minister Modi at an election rally in Jharkhand earlier this week. The issue simmered through the day, with BJP leaders approaching the Election Commission of India (ECI) over the remark, after protesting loudly in the Lok Sabha, and a demand led by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh seeking an apology from Mr. Gandhi.

China, U.S. announce trade deal; no farm purchase commitment

The United States and China cooled their trade war on December 13, announcing a “phase one” agreement that reduces some U.S. tariffs in exchange for increased Chinese purchases of American farm goods. Chinese officials offered no specific details on the amount of U.S. agricultural goods Beijing had agreed to buy, a key sticking point in recent deal negotiations to end the 17-month trade war between the world's two largest economies.

Markets have muted reaction to long-awaited China trade deal

After months of waiting, markets had a muted reaction to news Friday that the US and China had reached an initial deal on trade. The agreement to a “Phase 1” deal means that the US won’t impose new tariffs on Chinese goods that had been set to kick in this weekend. President Donald Trump and China made separate statements confirming the agreement. Technology companies, which rely heavily on China for sales as well as parts, rose.

Justices to take up dispute over subpoenas for Donald Trump’s financial records

The Supreme Court said Friday it will hear President Donald Trump’s pleas to keep his tax, bank and financial records private, a major confrontation between the President and Congress that also could affect the 2020 Presidential campaign. Arguments will take place in late March, and the Justices, acting unusually quickly, are poised to issue decisions in June as Mr. Trump is campaigning for a second term. Rulings against the President could result in the quick release of personal financial information that Mr. Trump has sought strenuously to keep private.

Mike Pompeo warns Iran of ‘decisive response’ if U.S. interests are harmed in Iraq

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday warned Iran of a “decisive” response if U.S. interests are harmed in Iraq, after a series of rocket attacks on bases. “We must...use this opportunity to remind Iran’s leaders that any attacks by them, or their proxies of any identity, that harm Americans, our allies or our interests will be answered with a decisive US response,” Mr. Pompeo said in a statement. Mr. Pompeo, who has repeatedly warned Tehran, pinned the blame for the latest attacks squarely on “Iran's proxies.”

First lady appears to condone Donald Trump’s criticism of Greta Thunberg

Melania Trump on Friday appeared to condone her husband’s criticism of 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, saying through a spokeswoman, that her 13-year-old son, Barron, is in a different category than the teenage climate activist “who travels the globe giving speeches.” “He is a 13-year-old who wants and deserves privacy,” spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said in an emailed statement the day after President Donald Trump lashed out at Ms. Thunberg because TIME magazine had named her “Person of the Year.”

Madrid climate talks head into overtime with key issues unresolved

Officials from almost 200 countries hunkered down for another night of talks late Friday as a U.N. climate meeting in Madrid went into overtime without agreement on key issues. Chile, which is chairing the talks, said negotiators would continue working on two fronts trying to get deals on aid for poor countries affected by climate change and international carbon markets.

EU warns of ‘challenging’ timeframe for U.K. trade deal

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Friday warned of the tight timing for securing a trade deal with Britain, hours after Boris Johnson’s Conservatives won a crushing election victory. “The time frame ahead of us is very challenging,” Ms. von der Leyen said, following a discussion by EU leaders on the way forward after Brexit, now expected on January 31.

17 killed in three attacks in Democratic Republic of Congo since Wednesday

17 people have died in three attacks in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo hit by chronic unrest, the army and local observers said Friday. Two of the attacks in Ituri province were attributed to the Codeco militia that has also been accused of a civilian massacre in June. An army spokesman, lieutenant Jules Ngongo, told AFP that the three latest deaths occurred “during an attack by militia fighters very early on Friday.”

Every game we play is with the World Cup in mind: Arun

After dominating the Tests and T20Is at home in the recent past, India returns to the ODI format for the first time in four months, incidentally against the same opponent — West Indies — it last played. The three-match series gets underway at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium here on Sunday. With the next 50-over World Cup to be held in India in 2023, the preparation for the quadrennial event will begin in earnest from now. Yet, all eyes will primarily be on the back-to-back T20 World Cups, to be played in Australia and India in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 1:16:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/morning-news-digest-december-14-2019/article30300676.ece

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