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GC Murmu breaks the glass ceiling, first tribal to take charge as CAG

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GC Murmu breaks the glass ceiling, first tribal to take charge as CAG

Murmu stepped down as the Jammu and Kashmir’s L-G earlier this week. The oath was administered by President Ram Nath Kovind.

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UK pledges to crack down on ‘appalling’ wave of illegal immigration across English Channel

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UK pledges to crack down on ‘appalling’ wave of illegal immigration across English Channel

The U.K. government is promising to crack down on an “appalling” fresh wave of illegal immigration that has seen hundreds of migrants crossing the English Channel in small boats — and the government is calling on France to do more to stop the crossings.

“The number of illegal small boat crossings is appalling and unacceptably high,” Home Secretary Priti Patel said in a statement. “The figures are shameful.”

BRITISH FAMILY ON VACATION FINDS MIGRANTS HIDING IN THEIR CAR’S ROOFTOP CARGO BOX 

At least 235 migrants in 17 boats landed or were picked up by British Coast Guard and Border Force boats on Thursday, surpassing last week’s record of 202 arrivals in one day.

Patel, a hardliner on immigration in Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government, said that the government is working both to stop the boats leaving France, and also to intercept and return those making the crossings.

Patel in her statement warned, however, that the matter was “complex” and faces “serious legislative, legal and operational barriers.”

Successive British governments have for decades been struggling with the flow of illegal immigration across the Channel, both from migrants traveling on boats and those trying to smuggle themselves through ports of entry in the backs of trucks and other vehicles.

Immigration activists have said that many migrants have legitimate reasons to go to the country and the government should offer legal routes to get there safely.

Border Force officers escort a group of men thought to be migrants to a waiting bus, after they were brought into the port city of Dover, England, from small boats, Aug. 7. There have been a number of small boat incidents over recent days, with some unseaworthy vessels trying to make the journey from France across The Channel, one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. (Gareth Fuller/PA via AP)

Border Force officers escort a group of men thought to be migrants to a waiting bus, after they were brought into the port city of Dover, England, from small boats, Aug. 7. There have been a number of small boat incidents over recent days, with some unseaworthy vessels trying to make the journey from France across The Channel, one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. (Gareth Fuller/PA via AP)

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has been seeking to draw attention to the increase in migrants landing on British shores for weeks, posting videos of the boats and investigating hotels where migrants are reportedly being housed.

The summer weather has led to an uptick in those looking to make the crossings. The channel itself is about 20 miles at its narrowest point.

Patel also said that the government needs French cooperation to intercept the boats and return the migrants to France. The Daily Mail reported that the government is considering using the Royal Navy to help stop the crisis.

The U.K. Daily Telegraph reports that French authorities stop vessels but if migrants threaten to jump in the water, they withdraw as preservation of life is the priority. They then shadow the migrants to make sure they arrived in the U.K. safely.

Last month, Patel and French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin agreed to set up a joint intelligence unit to stop the smuggling gangs who are helping the migrants make their journey into the U.K.

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Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said on BBC Friday that the immigration minister will be in France next week to  “step up our collaborative efforts with our French allies.”

The Telegraph reported that more than 3,000 migrants  have reached the UK this year, compared with 1,892 for the whole of 2019.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Maher, Begala clash on Clinton’s alleged visit to Epstein’s ‘sex island’: ‘Look, it’s possible!’

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Maher, Begala clash on Clinton’s alleged visit to Epstein’s ‘sex island’: ‘Look, it’s possible!’

“Real Time” host Bill Maher had an awkward exchange with CNN commentator Paul Begala on Friday night, confronting him about his former boss Bill Clinton and the former president’s ties to deceased sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein.

“Now, Bill Clinton. People are saying that there are witnesses who saw him on Jeffrey Epstein’s sex island,” Maher began. “Obviously, it’s denied.”

Begala, who served as a White House adviser during Clinton’s administration, shook his head in disapproval — but Maher doubled down.

“You shake your head like, ‘Oh that’s impossible! Bill Clinton, a horny guy, on sex island? Ridiculous!'” Maher mocked. “Look, it’s possible.”

MSNBC IGNORES EPSTEIN DOCS IMPLICATING BILL CLINTON; CNN LARGELY AVOIDS

Last week, a trove of released documents in the court case of British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell shed some light on her relationship with Epstein, a wealthy financier who was found hanging in his New York City jail cell last year and was later pronounced dead. He had been awaiting trial on federal sex-trafficking charges.

The documents included records of a 2011 meeting between Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre and her lawyers where Giuffre talked about the powerful people in Epstein’s orbit who she said either flew on his private Boeing 727 or stayed on his private island in the Caribbean.

Bill Maher, left, and former Clinton adviser Paul Begala clashed during Friday night's edition of "Real Time with Bill Maher."

Bill Maher, left, and former Clinton adviser Paul Begala clashed during Friday night’s edition of “Real Time with Bill Maher.”

One of the powerful people mentioned was Clinton — who has acknowledged meeting with Epstein on several occasions but denied knowing about Epstein’s criminal record in Florida or the financier’s subsequent alleged actions involving minors.

During a panel segment of Maher’s show Friday night, the host revived his argument that the Clintons have become “huge distractions” for the Democratic Party and invoked the controversial connection between the former president and the pedophile.

BILL MAHER URGES CLINTONS TO SKIP DEMS’ 2020 CONVENTION: ‘THEY’VE GOT TO GO AWAY’

“My question is, you know, [Clinton] has assets and he has … things that are not quite assets,” Maher said. “And same with Hillary. What do the Democrats — what should they do?”

While not addressing Clinton’s alleged ties to Epstein, Begala praised both his former boss and first lady, noting how he “two landslide elections” and how she won the popular vote.

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“Bill Clinton has credibility on the economy, which is the one issue holding Trump up right now. It is still holding him up,” Begala told Maher. “I guess people saw him portray a CEO on a cardboard set for 14 years on NBC because they feel like he’s a businessman. … Bill Clinton can puncture that. And if it were me, that’s what I would send him out to do.”

Maher previously argued that Bill and Hillary Clinton should not appear at the Democrats’ convention this summer due to their controversial brand. However, recent reports indicate both will participate when the Democrats convene beginning Aug. 17.

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Seth Rogen’s Israel comments highlight fraught diaspora ties

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Seth Rogen’s Israel comments highlight fraught diaspora ties

It began as a lighthearted conversation between two Jewish comedians, riffing on a podcast about the idiosyncrasies of their shared heritage. But after talk turned to Israel, it didn’t take long for Marc Maron and Seth Rogen to spark an uproar.

Their comments about Israel — especially Rogen saying the country “doesn’t make sense” — infuriated many Israel supporters and highlighted the country’s tenuous relationship with young, progressive Jewish critics in the diaspora.

Israel has long benefited from financial and political support from American Jews. But in recent years the country has faced a groundswell of opposition from young progressives, disillusioned by Israel’s aggressive West Bank settlement building, its perceived exclusion of liberal streams of Judaism and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cozy relationship with President Donald Trump.

“What Seth Rogen said is par for the course among our generation and the Israeli government has to wake up and see that their actions have consequences,” said Yonah Lieberman, spokesman for If Not Now, an American Jewish organization opposed to Israel’s entrenched occupation of the West Bank.

Rogen’s remarks follow a dramatic shift by an influential Jewish American commentator who recently endorsed the idea of a democratic entity of Jews and Palestinians living with equal rights on the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Peter Beinart’s argument that a two-state solution — Israel and Palestine — is no longer possible sent shock waves through the Jewish establishment and Washington policy-making circles.

Shifting opinions

For many Jews, Israel is an integral part of their identity, on religious grounds or as an insurance policy in the wake of the Holocaust and in a modern age of resurgent anti-Semitism. But polls have shown that while most American Jews identify with Israel and feel a connection to the country, that support has waned over recent years, especially among millennials.

Some have even embraced the Palestinian-led movement calling for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel to protest what it says is Israeli oppression of Palestinians. Israel accuses the movement of waging a campaign to delegitimize its very existence.

In the podcast, Rogen, who appeared in such smash comedies as Superbad and Knocked Up, talked about attending Jewish schools and Jewish summer camp while growing up in Vancouver. He said his parents met on an Israeli kibbutz.

WATCH | Seth Rogen on making movies in Vancouver:

The comedy star talks about coming home to shoot movies 2:19

As they continued to chat, Rogen appeared to question why Israel was established.

“You don’t keep all your Jews in one basket. I don’t understand why they did that. It makes no sense whatsoever,” Rogen said. “You don’t keep something you’re trying to preserve all in one place especially when that place has proven to be pretty volatile. I’m trying to keep all these things safe. I’m going to put them in my blender and hope that that’s the best place to, that’ll do it.”

Rogen then said he was “fed a huge amount of lies” about Israel during his youth. “They never tell you that `oh, by the way, there were people there.’ They make it seem like, `the [expletive] door’s open.”‘

Maron and Rogen both joked about how frightened they were about the responses they would receive from Israel’s defenders. Their concerns were justified.

Rogen’s comments immediately lit up “Jewish Twitter.” They unleashed a flurry of critical op-eds in Jewish and Israeli media. And they prompted Rogen to call Isaac Herzog, the head of the Jewish Agency, a major non-profit that works to foster relations between Israel and the Jewish world.

In a Facebook post, Herzog said he and Rogen had a frank and open conversation. He said Rogen “was misunderstood and apologized” for his comments.

“I told him that many Israelis and Jews around the world were personally hurt by his statement, which implies the denial of Israel’s right to exist,” Herzog wrote.

In an interview with the Israeli daily Haaretz, Rogen said he called Herzog at the urging of his mother and he denied apologizing. He said the comments were made in jest and misconstrued.

“I don’t want Jews to think that I don’t think Israel should exist. And I understand how they could have been led to think that,” he said.

Rogen also said he is a “proud Jew.” He said his criticism was aimed at the education he received, and he believed he could have been given a deeper picture of a “complex” situation.

Ironically, Rogen was on the podcast to promote his new movie, An American Pickle, about a Jewish immigrant to the U.S. at the start of the 20th century who falls into a vat of pickle brine and emerges 100 years later. He called the project a “very Jewish film.”

This image released by HBO Max shows Seth Rogen in a scene from An American Pickle. Rogen plays dual roles in this film about a man from the 1920s who falls into a vat of pickle juice, wakes up fully preserved 100 years later and gets a chance to know his great-grandson — a Brooklyn-based app developer. (Hopper Stone/HBO Max/The Associated Press)

Lieberman, from If Not Now, said the uproar shows “how much the conversation has changed” about Israel among American Jews.

Shmuel Rosner, a senior fellow with the Jewish People Policy Institute, a Jerusalem think-tank , said Israel should not be expected to change its “security and foreign policies” based on growing estrangement from Jews overseas.

But he said it can take realistic steps to close the gap, such as establishing a pluralistic prayer site at the Western Wall, long a sticking point between Israel’s Orthodox establishment and more liberal Jews in the U.S.

“It’s a challenge for Israel. It’s inconvenient. We want everyone to love us, especially other Jews,” he said. “Israel can do certain things to make it somewhat better.”



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Canada added 419,000 jobs in July, but is still 1.3M below pre-COVID-19 levels

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Canada added 419,000 jobs in July, but is still 1.3M below pre-COVID-19 levels

Canada’s economy added 419,000 jobs in July and the jobless rate dropped to 10.9 per cent.

Statistics Canada reported Friday that July’s job gain, when added to the 953,000 in June and the 290,000 from May, still leaves Canada’s economy with 1.3 million fewer jobs than it had in February, before widespread lockdowns to limit the spread of COVID-19 began. Put another way, that means the job market has returned to about 93 per cent of its previous capacity.

The jobless rate fell 1.4 percentage points for the second consecutive month and is now down from the record high of 13.7 per cent it hit in May. For comparison purposes, Canada’s jobless rate was 5.6 per cent in February, before this ongoing pandemic began.

The data agency said 345,000 of the new jobs added in July were part-time. Only 73,000 were new full-time positions.

While every province added jobs, the recovery was led by Ontario with 151,000 new jobs, followed by Quebec with 98,000, B.C. with 70,000 and Alberta with 68,000 new jobs.

Every other province recorded a comparatively small gain of under 13,000 new jobs apiece.

Ontario was slower than most to reopen, so the job gains are a bit behind there, too. “Since Ontario’s reopening has lagged a bit, it remains the furthest from pre-crisis job levels at 91.7 per cent,” Bank of Montreal economist Doug Porter said.

“Not surprisingly, the provinces that had initially been less hard-hit by the virus have opened more quickly and are now boasting the lowest jobless rates in the country. Manitoba, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick all posted single-digit rates last month, along with Quebec,” he said.

While it’s good news that the economy is adding jobs in the aggregate, the underlying data highlights some major reasons for concern, especially when demographic breakdowns are considered.

Very uneven recovery

Visible minority groups appear to have been hit disproportionately hard by the economic toll of COVID-19. While Canada’s overall jobless rate is 10.9 per cent, for the South Asian community it is 17.8 per cent, for the Arab community it is 17.3 per cent, and Black Canadians had a 16.8 per cent jobless rate during the month.

Compared to last July, the jobless rate has increased by 9.1 percentage points for South Asians, by 8.4 percentage points for Chinese Canadians, by 6.3 percentage points for Black Canadians and by 6.2 percentage points for Filipino Canadians.

Canada’s Indigenous population was also effectively shut out of the job gains in July as employment was unchanged for Aboriginal people living off-reserve during the month.

Fitness instructor Ellen Fielding lost her job during the pandemic and she isn’t expecting her income to get back to where it was before any time soon. (Jacqueline Hansen/CBC)

While there are new jobs for some, it’s clear that even those lucky enough to find them can’t pay the bills from them. Statistics Canada said almost one in five people in Canada’s workforce were receiving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, a program launched in April designed to support Canadians who have lost all or part of their income with up to $2,000 a month.

Half of the people on CERB in July were still working, but for significantly reduced hours or income. That includes Ellen Fielding of Toronto, who taught pilates and other fitness classes at various fitness studios prior to the pandemic, but has been getting by with the help of CERB and online classes, which pay far less.

“Because everything has closed down my job has disappeared,” she told CBC News in an interview. “I have pivoted to teaching online, but the money is nowhere near the same and it won’t be.”

Other negative impacts

Fielding says she doesn’t know what she’ll do when those income supports run out, but she tries not to dwell on it too much because it’s bad for her mental health. “The financial stress has been pretty difficult,” she says.

And she’s not alone in thinking that. Consultancy Deloitte recently warned in a report that Canada’s economy needs to brace itself for dealing with the trauma of the current pandemic, both of those who have lost jobs and those who have managed to stay employed under incredibly trying circumstances.

“Long-term unemployment will be with us for quite some time before it starts going back to pre-recession levels,” says Matt Laberge, one of the report’s authors. “There are a lot people around us that are struggling right now.”

The isolation of lockdowns coupled with the financial stress of lost income is going to have a negative impact on Canadians and the economy for a long time, which is why Deloitte is urging employers to come up with a plan to deal with the effects of the pandemic now and into the future.

“There will be human impacts of COVID-19 on Canadians,” he said. “And they may be pretty sizeable.”

Ontario was slower than most to reopen, so the job gains are a bit behind there, too. “Since Ontario’s reopening has lagged a bit, it remains the furthest from pre-crisis job levels at 91.7 per cent,” Bank of Montreal economist Doug Porter said.

“Not surprisingly, the provinces that had initially been less hard-hit by the virus have opened more quickly and are now boasting the lowest jobless rates in the country. Manitoba, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick all posted single-digit rates last month, along with Quebec,” he said.

While it’s good news that the economy is adding jobs in the aggregate, the underlying data highlights some major reasons for concern, especially when demographic breakdowns are considered.

Very uneven recovery

Visible minority groups appear to have been hit disproportionately hard by the economic toll of COVID-19. While Canada’s overall jobless rate is 10.9 per cent, for the South Asian community it is 17.8 per cent, for the Arab community it is 17.3 per cent, and Black Canadians had a 16.8 per cent jobless rate during the month.

Compared to last July, the jobless rate has increased by 9.1 percentage points for South Asians, by 8.4 percentage points for Chinese Canadians, by 6.3 percentage points for Black Canadians and by 6.2 percentage points for Filipino Canadians.

Canada’s Indigenous population was also effectively shut out of the job gains in July as employment was unchanged for Aboriginal people living off-reserve during the month.

Fitness instructor Ellen Fielding lost her job during the pandemic and she isn’t expecting her income to get back to where it was before any time soon. (Jacqueline Hansen/CBC)

While there are new jobs for some, it’s clear that even those lucky enough to find them can’t pay the bills from them. Statistics Canada said almost one in five people in Canada’s workforce were receiving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, a program launched in April designed to support Canadians who have lost all or part of their income with up to $2,000 a month.

Half of the people on CERB in July were still working, but for significantly reduced hours or income. That includes Ellen Fielding of Toronto, who taught pilates and other fitness classes at various fitness studios prior to the pandemic, but has been getting by with the help of CERB and online classes, which pay far less.

“Because everything has closed down my job has disappeared,” she told CBC News in an interview. “I have pivoted to teaching online, but the money is nowhere near the same and it won’t be.”

Other negative impacts

Fielding says she doesn’t know what she’ll do when those income supports run out, but she tries not to dwell on it too much because it’s bad for her mental health. “The financial stress has been pretty difficult,” she says.

And she’s not alone in thinking that. Consultancy Deloitte recently warned in a report that Canada’s economy needs to brace itself for dealing with the trauma of the current pandemic, both of those who have lost jobs and those who have managed to stay employed under incredibly trying circumstances.

“Long-term unemployment will be with us for quite some time before it starts going back to pre-recession levels,” says Matt Laberge, one of the report’s authors. “There are a lot people around us that are struggling right now.”

The isolation of lockdowns coupled with the financial stress of lost income is going to have a negative impact on Canadians and the economy for a long time, which is why Deloitte is urging employers to come up with a plan to deal with the effects of the pandemic now and into the future.

“There will be human impacts of COVID-19 on Canadians,” he said. “And they may be pretty sizeable.”

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Indian Ambassador in US discusses trade, investment cooperation with Pennsylvania Governor

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Indian Ambassador in US discusses trade, investment cooperation with Pennsylvania Governor

Washington: Continuing with his efforts to strengthen the bilateral ties, the top Indian diplomat in the US has discussed trade and investment cooperation with the Governor of Pennsylvania, the American state with which India shares a vibrant and a century-old relationship.

The total trade between India and Pennsylvania in 2019 was USD 3.21 billion. Over 18 Indian companies, with investments of USD 540 million, are supporting 3,000 jobs in Pennsylvania.

India’s Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu during his virtual conference with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf on Friday discussed the ever-increasing trade and investment complementarities in the India-US relationship and cooperation in the fields of education and healthcare.

“Wonderful conversation with Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania on our strong economic partnership & the important contributions of the Indian diaspora & Indian companies. Discussed the potential for collaboration in higher education; STEM areas; life sciences and health,” Sandhu said in a tweet.

Sandhu shared with Wolf the latest developments in the Indian healthcare and education sectors, including recent reform initiatives taken by India, according to a readout of the call issued by the embassy here.

Both noted the important contributions, especially in economy, of over 200,000 members of the Indian diaspora in Pennsylvania, including those of nearly 10,000 Indian students in Pennsylvania’s higher education institutions.

The ambassador highlighted the new opportunities available for investments in India’s higher education sector under the New Education Policy recently announced in India.

Indian entrepreneurs and professionals have a significant presence in Pennsylvania in the IT and telecommunications, life sciences and manufacturing sectors. Indian high skilled talent adds to the competitive edge of the US economy.

Many Pennsylvania-based US companies spread across food processing, agriculture, IT, and Chemicals sectors are present in India. Some notable investments include Hershey’s, Kraft Heinz, Unisys, Air Products & Chemicals, FMC among others.



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Development in J&K is ‘work in progress’: Chief secretary B V R Subrahmanyam | India News

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Development in J&K is ‘work in progress’: Chief secretary B V R Subrahmanyam | India News

SRINAGAR: In the year following neutering of Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir, 2,273 infrastructure projects worth Rs 5,979 crore, which had been pending for the past 5-10 years, were sanctioned and 506 completed even as J&K Chief Secretary B V R Subrahmanyam describes the efforts to bring good governance and development to the erstwhile state as “work in progress”.
Some of the works done so far include strengthening of the panchayat structure, completion of Phase 1 of Jhelum flood mitigation project, creation of 10,000 jobs and opening up 50 new degree colleges.
Stating that fulfilling the aspirations of people of J&K will take time, Subrahmanyam said: “I think we need patience. We have got the institutional architecture in place and we are moving ahead step by step. Once we get the development process in place, once we get the jobs going, once we see the investment growing, you will find people in a different frame of mind.”
Describing the erstwhile state of J&K as “broken” and with no “system” due to years of misgovernance, corruption and “unbelievable levels of fraud” committed by past regimes led by a handful of powerful families and institutions controlled by them, Subrahmanyam, a Chhattisgarh-cadre IAS officer, said he was sent to J&K by the Prime Minister with a clear direction to “clean up the state, reform it and hand over to the people of J&K their ‘amaanat’ (valued possession)”.
The chief secretary said he and others have been working to create a robust institutional infrastructure which is free of corruption. Projects pending for over four decades like the Shahpur-Kandi project were started, J&K Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation created last year to complete projects languishing for 5-10 years, panchayat elections held successfully and the intricacies of transition of J&K from J&K Constitution to Constitution of India, from a state to Union territory, and from one state to two Union territories, followed through.
Stating the transition was made painful by the fact that J&K was “crumbling” due to years of neglect and corruption, Subrahmanyam said the priority is now to “erect a robust panchayat system”. He said a cadre of panchayat officers will be created, who will also handle accounts. A panchayat secretariat is being created and all the 4,300 panchayat bhavans will have a standardised design.
Subrahmanyam said bypolls to over 12,600 vacant posts of panch and sarpanch in J&K would be held as soon as Covid situation improves.
On the feeling among some Kashmiris that not enough has been done to fulfil their aspirations post-Article 370, he assured that delivery of jobs, growth and development would happen but added that reconstruction of the UT does not happen overnight. “It’s a work in progress,” he said.
On the impact of Covid-19 on J&K, the chief secretary said while the pandemic has set the UT back by 7-8 months, the agriculture sector, on which nearly 75 lakh people are dependent, and government employees, who total 4 lakh and have around 16 lakh dependents, were unaffected. The sectors hit are tourism, shops and transportation. But somehow, the people of J&K are more resilient when it comes to lockdowns, having witnessed many separatist-induced shutdowns, he said. “I can say confidently say that Covid-19 impact on J&K GDP will be the least among all states/UTs,” he said.
On plans for Global Investment Summit, Subrahmanyam said it may well be pushed to next financial year in view of Covid crisis. He did add that many businessmen have evinced interest in investing in J&K, not so much for high returns but for “the sheer love for Kashmir”.

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Centre may take up Trump’s foreign medicines restrictions during FTA talks, downplays impact

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Centre may take up Trump’s foreign medicines restrictions during FTA talks, downplays impact

NEW DELHI: The government has downplayed the effect of the US administration’s decision to buy “essential” drugs from American companies, saying the move will have a minimal impact on India and may even benefit the country strategically.

“While Indian pharmaceutical firms that have substantial manufacturing and R&D presence in the US will continue supplying, irrespective of the current order, it would also be difficult to move generic manufacturing to the US due to the cost differential,” said an official. Indian pharma firms have substantial presence in generics segment.

US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order that requires Washington to develop a list of essential medicines and buy them as well as medical supplies from American companies instead of from foreign countries like China.

“As China is almost the global single source for fermentation-based API, the order targets such procurement. Hence, the impact will primarily be in high-tech areas like API manufacturing coming from China,” the official said.

India exported pharmaceutical products worth $6.33 billion to the US in FY20. India believes that development of API and critical medicine manufacturing in the US may be a strategic positive for India in terms of national security considerations and also provide non-China sources.

It is also confident that India and Indian pharmaceutical companies have a “deep and positive relationship” with the US, as was exemplified by India’s supply of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) to it and other countries as Covid-19 treatment.

“This relationship will grow beyond the current executive order,” the official said.

However, trade experts said India should clarify with the US the impact of this move on its pharma industry once the negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) begin.

This is crucial as the US said in the order: “United States Trade Representative shall, to the extent permitted by law, take all appropriate action to modify United States Federal procurement product coverage under all relevant FTAs and the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement to exclude coverage of Essential Medicines, Medical Countermeasures, and Critical Inputs.”

“How will be benefit from an FTA with the US if pharma is not part of it? This issue should come up in the FTA talks because we will lose market access,” said an expert on trade issues. “Like India, the US is protecting its domestic industry from China. Now, both can’t challenge each other on their respective protectionist measures,” said another trade expert.



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Slumping Blue Jays stumble out of the gate in series opener against Red Sox

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Slumping Blue Jays stumble out of the gate in series opener against Red Sox

Mitch Moreland’s crack of the bat in a nearly empty Fenway Park was easily heard. Alex Verdugo’s yell after his homer-saving catch might have been even louder.

Verdugo hit two solo homers over the Green Monster and made a homer-robbing grab, Mitch Moreland hit a two-run shot and Boston’s beleaguered staff rebounded to lift the Red Sox past the Toronto Blue Jays 5-3 on Friday night.

Verdugo snagged Travis Shaw’s bid with his leaping grab in the ninth inning, pulling the ball back before it landed in Toronto’s bullpen, and Moreland added a bases-loaded walk to help Boston win its second straight following a four-game losing streak.

“I would say I’ve never screamed like that before,” Verdugo said, smiling. “I used to be a pitcher back in the day. I was pretty hyped up.”

Cavan Biggio hit a solo homer, and Vladimir Guerrero and Bo Bichette each had an RBI double for Toronto, which has dropped five of six.

Moreland’s homer, coming with the crack echoing around Fenway, sailed just over the 380-foot sign at the edge of the Blue Jays’ bullpen in right off starter Tanner Roark (1-1) in the third inning for his fourth homer.

“I just didn’t have it tonight, basically, is what it is,” Roark said. “Just the hand placement out front of pitches was just a hair off.”

Entering the night with the AL’s second-worst ERA (5.28), Boston used six relievers to hold down the Blue Jays. Reliever Heath Hembree (2-0) got three outs for the victory and Brandon Workman the final three for his third save.

“Pretty good. All of them,” Boston manager Ron Roenicke said. “We’re trying to piece together what order it was going to be in.”

Verdugo had given Boston a 2-1 edge when he hit his first Fenway homer with the Red Sox (he had one with the Los Angeles Dodgers last season), an opposite-field shot that bounced off the second row of seats above the Monster and back onto the field. His other came leading off the eighth.

Biggio, inserted in the leadoff spot, homered on the sixth pitch of the game, a drive that barely cleared the Monster.

Making just his second start and first since July 28, Roark walked four batters in the first, the last was Moreland.

Boston starter Ryan Weber was lifted in the fourth for the third time in as many starts, giving up two runs on five hits.

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No set guidelines for calling off US Open if COVID outbreak – tennis

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No set guidelines for calling off US Open if COVID outbreak – tennis

A player testing positive for COVID-19 will be dropped from the U.S. Open, but the U.S. Tennis Association has not established how many infected participants would force the Grand Slam tournament to be called off.

According to a 10½-page “Player Q&A Update” sent out this week by the USTA, “There are no guidelines available to determine what number (of positive tests) will compel” the cancellation of the U.S.Open or the tournament that will precede it at Flushing Meadows this month amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Western & Southern Open, usually held in Cincinnati, is slated for the hard courts at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center from Aug. 20-28, followed by the U.S. Open from Aug. 31 to Sept. 13. No spectators will be allowed at either tournament.

As the USTA is moves forward, players are announcing withdrawals because of the pandemic.

No. 5 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, a 2019 U.S. Open semifinalist, and No. 7 Kiki Bertens of Netherlands wrote on social media Friday that they won’t be in New York.They join a growing list of absentees that already included the No. 1-ranked woman, Ash Barty, the defending men’s champion, Rafael Nadal, and others such as Stan Wawrinka and Nick Kyrgios.

Bertens cited concerns about needing to quarantine when returning to Europe for clay-court tournaments in Rome and Paris that are scheduled for after the U.S. Open.Players have asked the USTA to provide a transit letter that would allow them to bypass a quarantine period when going from New York to Europe.

USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier said Friday his group and its representatives are in touch with the WTA, ATP, the French tennis federation and government officials in Italy and France about the issue.

“We are confident that working with this extended group, we will be able to get the assurances the players would like,” Widmaier wrote in an email.

Among the coronavirus-related protocols explained in this week’s USTA update for players: — Players and guests — up to three per entrant in singles — must pass two coronavirus nasal swab tests 48 hours apart after arriving, although they’re allowed to go to the tournament site if the first test comes back negative. “We anticipate results will be returned in 24 hours or less,” the USTA document says.

— Antibody tests are encouraged, but not required. Those who test positive for antibodies will take follow-up COVID-19 tests every seven days; those with negative results for antibodies — or who aren’t checked — must take COVID-19 tests every four days for the rest of their time in the “bubble.” Players need written permission from tournament director Stacy Allaster or the chief medical officer to leave the “bubble” established for both events at Flushing Meadows — otherwise, they’ll be fined and kicked out of the competition. If coaches or guests exit the “bubble,” they’ll lose their 2020 credential and not be allowed to get one next year.

— Aside from two official hotels for players and their guests, there will be private housing available for rent. Anyone staying there will undergo the same initial testing procedures and then will need further nasal swabs every four days, the USTA said, “unless the medical team determines otherwise.”— Players staying at rental homes need to have — and pay for — 24-hour security, and the USTA “must be provided with access to the external security egress and ingress information for the duration of the time in the private housing.”

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