Indo-American Leadership Forum Offers Powerful Platform to New England Indian-American Community

The New England community leaders organized a virtual meet on November 2nd as part of the 2nd annual meeting of the Indo-American Leadership Forum.  Due to the pandemic, the event was held online but the agenda was just as robust.  More than 35 community organizations came together for this virtual meet. The event was kicked off by Shri Vikas Deshpande (a volunteer with Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh), one of the organizers of the Leadership Forum.  Shri Vikas Deshpande welcomed everyone and set the pace of the meet by sharing the philosophy behind the Indo Leadership Forum and how it will show the strength of the Indian community in times of need. Shri Nilesh Agrawal, a volunteer with the Dharma Center of America, welcomed the Honorary Consulate General of India, Shri Randhir Jaiswal who greeted all the community leaders and provided his guidance. Shri Jaiswal spoke to the strength of the community and provided updates related to administrative changes in the Consular process. Randhir ji, also talked about the increased responsibility of the Indian community to give back to the society in these difficult times. He appreciated all the work the various organizations are doing and also urged them to think collectively of innovative ways to support a section of the Indian society that needs more help – single parents, families facing challenging domestic issues, among others. His comments were certainly thought provoking and provided direction on areas where the Leadership forum can work collectively.

Our guest speaker, Shri Urgen ji Sherpa, who is the President of the United Sherpa Association, spoke of the history and contribution of the Nepalese, Tibetan and Buddhist communities in the US and their contributions to the COVID-19 relief efforts. He inspired one and all with narration of the monumental work efforts by the communities despite its limited presence and appealed to the self-motivation that individuals need to bring during difficult times to step up and give back.  Shri Hetal Joshi, Founder, Academy of Creative arts, represented the audience and moderated a Q&A session with Urgen ji. 

Shri Arun Kankani ji, President of Sewa International, the largest Hindu charitable organization in the US, shared his thoughts on the spirit of volunteering. He talked about the incredible work done by Sewa International across the US, whether it is providing meals and food to the needy or counseling on mental health issues. Shri Ramakrishna Penumarthy, President, Telugu Association of Greater Boston, wonderfully consolidated the many questions from the audience for Shri Kankani and asked him about Sewa’s International’s efforts and challenges during the pandemic.

Dr. Yogesh Rathi, a Professor at Harvard Medical School, and a volunteer with the Dharma Center of America, moderated the last segment of the forum and discussed the Sewa Diwali project, an initiative to serve the community by means of a food drive in the spirit of Diwali celebrations. He suggested that community leaders come together for this US wide food drive to support the society in the coming winter months. An overwhelming response of interest for participation was the high note which concluded the virtual meet. Smt Suman Garhwal, a volunteer with Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) was the moderator for the 1.5 hr long meet while Shri Nilesh Agrawal, provided the technical coordination and managed a smooth flow of the event. A video compilation of all the participating organizations was put together by Nilesh Agarwal and certainly was the best way to get to know the efforts of all organizations in a short event. Suman Garhwal delivered the vote of thanks to all attendees with next steps to continue the engagement and work with all the organizations (listed below) for future initiatives.  

IAPC Organizes Live Presidential Debate During 7th International Media Conference

(New York, NY; October 22, 2020) The Indo-American Press Club (IAPC) organized a live Presidential Debate virtually as part of  the 7th annual International Media Conference (IMC-2020) on Sunday, October 18, 2020. Broadcast on several social media platforms, and was attended live by hundreds of IAPC members, supporters, and well-wishers from around the world, the first ever Debate had participation by prominent politicians, academicians, physicians, and community leaders. The panelists from the Republican Party were: Puneet Ahluwalia, Candidate for Lt. Governor, Virginia; Dr. Sampat Shivangi, Republican Delegate to the National Republican Party Convention; and Dr. Anand Tamhankar, a Multi-Disciplinary Expert and a Physician. The Democrats on the Panel were: Sujata Gadkar-Wilcox, Candidate for Connecticut State Assembly; Dr. Hetal Gor, a Women’s Leader and OBGYN, NJ; and Anil Bansal, President of Federation of Indian Associations, NY, NJ, CT. The lively debate was moderated by Dr. Renee Mehrra, TV/News Anchor, TV Asia. The participants eloquently and with anecdotes discussed in detail on the differencing policies and perspectives of the Democratic Party candidate Joe Biden and that of the Republican Party, President Trump on the Covid-19 Pandemic, Healthcare Policy and the Affordable care Act, the US Economy, US relationship with India and the rest of the world, with a particular focus on the  UN and WHO, Immigration System, Work Visas, and the Indian Americans Awaiting for decades for Green Card approval, and the policies and programs by both the parties on Climate Change. Advocating strongly for the Biden –Harris Ticket, Sujata Gadkar-Wilcox argued that, “As a nation, we are more deeply divided in some ways than we have ever been. We are in need of a leader who will bring us together rather than increase polarization. The rising number of former Republican officials and leading Democrats who support Vice President Biden speaks for itself. Joe Biden is the right kind of unifying candidate–a centrist candidate with the experience to do the job, the ability to rebuild our relationships domestically and abroad, and the leadership to help the United States successfully emerge from the global pandemic.” Anil Bansal made a strong pitch for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Stating that Americans face an epic choice of this election, he said, “Our decency and democracy are at stake. When the president starts behaving like a king, fuels racism and division, and destroys science, we must wake up.  Trump has clearly shown in the last four years that he is incompetent and selfish. Mr. Trump lies and cheats and mocks everyone who does not agree with him. Whereas Mr. Biden is a proven leader who is most decent, builds confidence and consensus, and believes in serving the country and its people.” He concluded his argument for the Democratic Party Ticket, Bansal argued that “We owe to our children and future generations to use the power given today and vote for stability, democracy, and bring back the soul of the nation.” In her passionate debate as to why Indian Americans should defeat Trump and support Biden & Harris Ticket in 2020, Dr. Hetal Gor said, “In the past four years, Trump’s policies, actions, and words have all been extremely divisive. He has openly supported White supremacist groups, increased racial divide, and wreaked havoc on the social fabric of the nation. His tax cuts have widened the deficit in turn crowding out productive investment and have increased income inequality within the nation. He is unequivocally against a woman’s right to choice. Internationally, Trump has made even our allies turn their back on us. Trump’s policies have revoked India’s special trade status and levied tariffs on India’s imports. He has restricted Visas to Indian immigrants, falsely claimed that India asked the US to intervene in Kashmir, and mediate dispute with China. He has used Prime Minister Modi for his own personal advantage without doing anything constructive for Indians.” In her argument for supporting Biden, Dr. Gor believes that “the Biden/Harris campaign will work together to restore core American values. They would make sure the US is seen as a country of a respect as they would cut down hate crime, protect houses of worship, restore the American Dream, secure our values as a nation that was built by immigrants by working to eliminate language barriers for all. Furthermore, they have and will continue to honor the contributions of Indians, and will create a safe environment for all children. They will preserve strong alliances with our allies, and strengthen US-India relationship, and supporting India’s membership in a reformed and expanded UN Security Council.” Advocating strongly to re-elect President Trump and the Republican Party candidates around the nation, Puneet Ahluwalia said, “This will ensure that our nation stays the course for unprecedented economic growth. Especially after the pandemic, we need strong committed leadership which fulfills its promises to the American people. Our nation’s economy needs a leader who is pro-business and understands the plight of hard working Americans. Biden will increase taxes and regulations which will further stifle the economy and run businesses and manufacturing out of our country. The Democratic Party leadership is purposely stalling the economy with draconian mandates to harm Republicans this election, which are playing with American lives.” On the international front, Ahluwalia argued that “Only President Trump can take on the threats of China, Iran and Russia along with other external threats around the globe. As proud Americans, we value growth, freedom and opportunity. It is for the very same reason, I have chosen to run for Lt. Governor of Virginia.” According to Dr. Sampat Shivangi, historically US Presidents from the Democratic Party have contributed minimally to the cause of India. “It was Bush who signed the US-India civil nuclear treaty, which stands as a major foreign policy milestone of his presidency.” While Joe Biden has questioned the removal of Article 370 and CAA by Modi Government, President Trump has advanced the friendship between Indian and the US and has opposed the Chinese-Pakistani propaganda in the UN Security Council and proceedings against India on Article 370 and CAA. “It is a known fact that Trump and his Secretary of State went out of the way to support India,” he pointed out. “One has to remember Trump’s statement that India now has its best friend in the White House. It is good to have a friend of India in the White House than its adversary. Now, we the Indian Americans should support a friend of India in the November election as our gratitude towards our motherland.” Dr. Anand Tamhankar argued that “This is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make an impact with our votes by helping re-elect President Trump. He has been the most ardent supporter of Modiji’s reforms and the Indian causes, which is in contrast to the open vocal opposition to India and the removal of article 370 and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) by Biden-Harris.” According to him, “Trump is the clear choice if you believe in controlled, legal, merit-based immigration versus mass uncontrolled, vote bank politics-based immigration. A border-less America is unsustainable and a big challenge to the safety and security of citizens as can be seen in Europe and countries with extremely liberal immigration policies in the past.  “Trump’s re-election means continued prosperity based on low taxation,responsible and free market capitalism vs Democrat’s socialist policies of unsustainable free handouts,” Dr. Anand Tamhankar argued. “Look beyond the political rhetoric and Covid politics, to his administration’s glowing achievements and results in 4 years despite democrat led distractions of Impeachment, Mueller probe and other impediments. Contrast that with 47+ years of Biden in public office with little to show for it. Trump’ re-election at this critical juncture means rule of law and order versus conditions that we see in many democratic controlled cities. Is that the future we want for our next generation in America?” In her closing remarks, Dr. Renee Mehrra, who is well known to the South Asian American community as one of the most prominent broadcast journalists in the tri-state area, said, “The candidate that is compassionate and can heal America, address inequities in education, health, boost the economy, keep our borders safe and secure, bring stability and trust, and where America is respected by the world.. Let that candidate win and be elected as the 46th President of US.”

Earlier, in his opening remarks, Ajay Ghosh, Founder President and a Member of the IAPC BOD and the organizer of the Debate, said, “Indian Americans have come a long way since they started arriving on the shores of the United States in the 1960s, seeking greener pastures. They excel in almost all areas of our life here and are becoming a politically active community across the United States. As the Presidential Elections 2020 draws near, our community is split between the two major political parties. Today’s debate is to educate our community on where each party stands on the most important issues that affect the nation and the world.” IAPC Chairman Dr. Joseph Chalil, while proposing Vote of Thanks, stressed the importance of the media and congratulated IAPC for its contributions to society.

Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda Given Excellence in Leadership Award During IAPC’s 7th Annual International Media Conference

Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, President of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), was conferred the Excellence in Leadership Award during the 7th annual International Media Conference (IMC 2020) organized by the Indo-American Press Club (IAPC) on 18th 2020. Dr. Jonnalagadda was chosen for the prestigious award by IAPC for his great leadership of AAPI, the largest ethnic medical organization in the US, especially during the Pandemic. In his acceptance speech, Dr. Jonnalagadda, said, “Wanted to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to Indo American Press Club for selecting to receive the Excellence in Leadership Award. As you are aware Wanted to congratulate IAPC for your contributions, especially during the Covid pandemic for being the heroic warriors who work hard and go beyond to report accurately of the challenges humanity faces. Thank you all for reporting and sharing the news about the challenges  and accomplishments of Indian Americans  and in particular those in the Healthcare industry. Congratulations to all of my coawardees.

Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda assumed office as the  37th President of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) on Saturday, July 11, 2020, and committed himself to “make AAPI stronger, more vibrant, united, transparent, politically engaged, ensuring active participation of young physicians, increasing membership, and enabling that AAPI’s voice is heard in the corridors of power,” . AAPI is the largest Medical Organization in the United States, representing the interests of the over 100,000 physicians and Fellows of Indian origin in the United States, serving the interests of the Indian American physicians in the US and in many ways contributing to the shaping of the healthcare delivery in the US for the past 39 years. “AAPI must be responsive to its members, supportive of the leadership and a true advocate for our mission,” he said. Dr. Jonnalagadda was born in a family of Physicians. His dad was a Professor at a Medical College in India and his mother was a Teacher. He and his siblings aspired to be physicians and dedicate their lives for the greater good of humanity. “I am committed to serving the community and help the needy. That gives me the greatest satisfaction in life,” he said modesty.  Ambitious and wanting to achieve greater things in life, Dr. Jonnalagadda has numerous achievements in life. He currently serves as the President of the Medical Staff at the Hospital. And now, “being elected as the President of AAPI is greatest achievement of my life,” As the President of AAPI, the dynamic physician from the state of Andhra Pradesh, wants to “develop a committee to work with children of AAPI members who are interested in medical school, to educate on choosing a school and gaining acceptance; Develop a committee to work with medical residents who are potential AAPI members, to educate on contract negotiation, patient communication, and practice management; Develop a committee to work with AAPI medical students, and to provide proctorship to improve their selection of medical residencies.” Dr. Jonnalagadda wants to emphasize the importance of Legislative Agenda both here in the US and overseas, benefitting the physicians and the people AAPI is committed to serve. According to him, “The growing clout of the physicians of Indian origin in the United States is seen everywhere as several physicians of Indian origin hold critical positions in the healthcare, academic, research and administration across the nation.” He is actively involved with the Indian community and member at large of the Asian Indian Alliance, which actively participates in a bipartisan way to support and fund electoral candidates. His vision for AAPI is to increase the awareness of APPI globally and help its voice heard in the corridors of power.  “I would like to see us lobby the US Congress and create an AAPI PAC and advocate for an increase in the number of available Residency Positions and Green Cards to Indian American Physicians so as to help alleviate the shortage of Doctors in the US.” .   A Board-Certified Gastroenterologist/Transplant Hepatologist, working in Douglas, GA, Dr. Jonnalagadda is a former Assistant Professor at the Medical College of Georgia. He was the President of Coffee Regional Medical Staff 2018, and had served as the Director of Medical Association of Georgia Board from 2016 onwards. He had served as the President of Georgia Association of Physicians of Indian Heritage 2007-2008, and was the past Chair of Board of Trustees, GAPI. He was the Chairman of the Medical Association of Georgia, IMG Section, and was a Graduate, Georgia Physicians Leadership Academy (advocacy training).   “AAPI and the Charitable Foundation has several programs in India. Under my leadership, we will be able to initiate several more program benefitting our motherland, India,” Dr. Jonnalagadda said. The solemn Award Ceremony by IAPC was led by Padma Shri Dr. Sudhir Parikh, Chairman of Parikh Media and an active leader of AAPI. The virtual ceremony was organized, among others, by Dr. Joseph Chalil, IAPC Chairman; Korason Varghese, Award Committee Chair; & Dr. P.V. Baiju, IAPC Board Member. Dr. Vinod K. Shah, Managing Director of MedStar Shah Medical Group, CEO of Health Prime, and former President of AAPI, was conferred with the prestigious Karma Shrestha Award. WHEELS Global Foundation, a charitable initiative by the Indian Institute of Technology alumni, was conferred The Sathkarma Award. Ranjani Saigal, Executive Director of Ekal Vidyalaya, and Dean Nitin Nohria, Dean of Harvard Business School, were given The SathKarma Award. Ambassador Pradeep Kapur, the author of the book Beyond Covid-19 Pandemic and former Ambassador of India to Chile and Cambodia, received the Excellence in Literature Award. Chancellor of the University of California San Diego, Pradeep Khosla, was awarded the Excellence in Technology & Education Award. The Humanitarian Award was given to Dr. Sunil D. Kumar, Broward Health Medical Center, and former President of AKMG. Satish Korpe, the past President of the Indian American Forum for Political Education, and Madhavan B. Nair, former President of FOKANA, received the Community Service Award. Lalit K. Jha, Chief US Correspondent for Press Trust of India (PTI), was given the IAPC Media Excellence Award. The Indo-American Press Club (IAPC), a 501 (c) 3 Non-Profit Organization headquartered in New York, was formed in 2013 with the ideals of providing a  common platform to journalists of  Indian-origin living in the United States and Canada committed to professionalism and well-being of the larger society.  IAPC is also committed to recognize and honor the outstanding entities and individuals in the community that creates a social impact and excel in their field of profession, culture, service, and business.

IAPC’s 7th Annual International Media Conference Held Seminars, Panel Discussions, Presidential Debate, Cultural Programs, Award Ceremony Are Highlights

Educational Seminars, Panel Discussions, Presidential Debate, Award Ceremony, and Cultural Extravaganza were some of the major highlights of the 7th annual International Media Conference (IMC 2020) organized by the Indo-American Press Club (IAPC) from October 17th to 18th 2020. Meticulous planning and execution of the IMC, organized virtually due to the ongoing Pandemic, by IAPC’s Board of Directors and the National Executive Committee, was live broadcast on several social media platforms, and was attended by thousands of IAPC members, supporters, and well-wishers from around the world.

Led by IAPC Chairman Dr. Joseph Chalil and President Dr. S.S. Lal, the IMC 2020 was inaugurated by Ms. Shanimol Osman, a legislative assembly member of Kerala, India. Ms. Osman stressed the importance of the media and congratulated IAPC for its contributions to society.

 In his inaugural address, Dr. Chalil, while describing the current phase in human history as “unprecedented times for the journalists, who are the true warriors of journalism,” he pointed out that “several media personnel has been killed due to the COVID pandemic, in their efforts to provide accurate and balanced reporting.”

In his Presidential Address, Dr. Lal highlighted the importance of journalists and the need to coordinate and bring together journalists under one umbrella. “And it is the commitment and sacrifice of the leaders and members of this organization that has helped us build collaborations between the journalists and writers of the US and India,” Dr. Lal said.

In his address, Ambassador Pradeep Kapur stressed the importance of the media, especially in these challenging times, as they work hard to bring the truth before the public. While inaugurating the IAPC News Wire, which has been coordinated by Kamlesh Mehta of the South Asian Times, Ambassador T P Sreenivasan, IFS, highlighted Media’s role and how a Newswire can be a channel for educating the public, especially during the Pandemic. The annual Souvenir of IAPC was released by its Editor, Dr. Mathew Joys, a Member of the BOD.

During an interactive seminar on Indo-US Relations by reputed Indian Foreign Service Officers, Ambassador Kapur and Ambassador Sreenivasan, with experiences in Diplomacy and have personally served in various capacities, representing India around the world, especially in the US and at the UN, shared with the audience of their critical insights into the relationship of India with the US, China, Pakistan, and European nations. Chief Information Commissioner Bimal Julka, IAS, inaugurated the Educational Website Portal and addressed the audience. Dr. Aann Abraham served as the Emcee.

A Seminar on “Freedom of Press in India & US” was led by Siddharth Varadarajan, a former editor of the Indian English language national daily, The Hindu, and the founding editor of the Indian digital news portal, The Wire. Azad Jayan moderated, and Dr. Neethu James served as the Emcee. The session on “Cyber Security & Social Media” was led by Joseph Ponnoly & Binosh Bruce and was moderated by Thomas Mathew, Vice Chairman of IAPC, and Kalyani Nair served as the Emcee. The Master Ceremony for the IMS was James Kureekkatil.

Coordinated by Ajay Ghosh, Founder President and a Member of the BOD, for the first time ever, a live US Presidential Election Debate with the active participation of prominent political leaders and observers from both the Democratic and the Republic Parties was organized. The panelists from the Republican Party were: Puneet Ahluwalia, Candidate for Lt. Governor, Virginia; Dr. Sampat Shivangi, Republican Delegate to the National Republican Convention; and Dr. Anand Tamhankar, a Multi-Disciplinary Expert and a Physician. The Democrats on the Panel were: Sujata Gadkar-Wilcox, Candidate for Connecticut State Assembly; Dr. Hetal Gor, a Women’s Leader and OBGYN, NJ; and Anil Bansal, President of Federation of Indian Associations, NY, NJ, CT. The lively debate was moderated by Dr. Renee Mehrra, TV/News Anchor, TV Asia.

Facilitation speeches were delivered by Ginsmon P Zacharia, IAPC Founder Chairman; Parveen Chopra, Editor, South Asian Times & IAPC Director; Anitha Naveen, IAPC Vancouver Chapter; Joseph John, President, IAPC Alberta Chapter; Bince Mandapam, President, IAPC, Toronto Chapter; Milly Philip, President, IAPC, Philadelphia Chapter; Sabu Kurian, President, IAPC, Atlanta Chapter; Meena Chittilapally, President, IAPC, Dallas Chapter; and, Dr. Mathew Vyramon, Secretary, IAPC, Houston Chapter. Mini Nair, a Member of BOD, introduced Dr. Lal. A vote of thanks was proposed by Annie Anuvelil, IAPC Secretary

“We strive to educate and help improve the performance of Indian American journalists and those in India by imparting new knowledge and modern trends to the participants,” said Ginsmon Zacharia, founder chairman of IAPC. IAPC General Secretary Biju Chacko said that the Indian community in North America and elsewhere have been very supportive of the activities of our Press Club and have been requested to continue their support for the coming seventh International Media Conference. “Leading media personalities from around the world have been collaborating with IAPC,” said Mathewkutty Easo, Secretary, Board of Directors. “IAPC is committed to connecting, training, and encouraging emerging media professionals through innovative IT windows and platforms.”

IAPC Executive Vice President Annie Koshy said, “Despite the chaos around us, the IAPC has been unflinching in purpose to deliver and meet the needs of the Indian diaspora of journalists based in North America.” National Treasurer Reji Philip said that IAPC leadership and members have been working together for months for the success of the seventh International Media Conference, bringing the significant presence of the media community as done during the last six years. The cultural extravaganza featuring famous artists from Southern Indian Cinema World was presented by Saji Abraham of the Hedges Group.

The Grand Finale, the solemn Award Ceremony, was led by Padma Shri Dr. Sudhir Parikh; Dr. Joseph Chalil, IAPC Chairman; Korason Varghese, Award Committee Chair; & Dr. P.V. Baiju, IAPC Board Member. WHEELS Global Foundation, a charitable initiative by the Indian Institute of Technology alumni, was conferred The Sathkarma Award. Dr. Vinod K. Shah, Managing Director of MedStar Shah Medical Group, CEO of Health Prime, and former President of AAPI, was conferred with the prestigious Karma Shrestha Award.

Ranjani Saigal, Executive Director of Ekal Vidyalaya, and Dean Nitin Nohria, Dean of Harvard Business School, were given The SathKarma Award. Ambassador Pradeep Kapur, the author of the book Beyond Covid-19 Pandemic and former Ambassador of India to Chile and Cambodia, received the Excellence in Literature Award.

Chancellor of the University of California San Diego, Pradeep Khosla, was awarded the Excellence in Technology & Education Award. Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, President of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), was conferred the Excellence in Leadership Award. The Humanitarian Award was given to Dr. Sunil D. Kumar, Broward Health Medical Center, and former President of AKMG. Satish Korpe, the past President of the Indian American Forum for Political Education, and Madhavan B. Nair, former President of FOKANA, received the Community Service Award. Lalit K. Jha, Chief US Correspondent for Press Trust of India (PTI), was given the IAPC Media Excellence Award.

The Indo-American Press Club (IAPC), a 501 (c) 3 Non-Profit Organization headquartered in New York, was formed in 2013 with the ideals of providing a  common platform to journalists of  Indian-origin living in the United States and Canada committed to professionalism and well-being of the larger society.  IAPC is also committed to recognize and honor the outstanding entities and individuals in the community that creates a social impact and excel in their field of profession, culture, service, and business.

AAPI Plans Mini Convention in Chicago From September 26th – 27th

 “It’s very great joy that I want to invite you all to come and be part of the MINI Convention and the Fall Governing Body Meeting of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) to be held from September 26th to 27th, 2020 at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel, Chicago, IL,” Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, President, AAPI, announced here today.

With Corona Virus impacting every aspect of life around the world, posing several challenges in carrying out with numerous plans and programs for AAPI in 2020, Dr. Suresh Reddy, the 36th President of AAPI, has been right on task and has devoted the past one year leading AAPI to stability and greater heights. The deadly pandemic, COVID-19 that has been instrumental in the lockdown of almost all major programs and activities around the world, could not lockdown the creative minds of AAPI leaders.

“Basically organized as the “Volunteers Recognition Ceremony” to honor all those hundreds of volunteers of AAPI. Who have worked hard during the year 2019-20, especially during the COVID Pandemic. All the volunteers have raised the bar of AAPI and we salute their generosity and admire their sacrifices,” Dr. Suresh Reddy said. A special feature of the Convention will be honoring the hundreds of Volunteers who have dedicated their time, energy and efforts in the past one year for the success the many initiatives under the leadership of the outgoing President of AAPI.

“Taking the lockdown and the social distancing as a challenge, the organizing committee of the AAPI Mini Convention has come up with the plan to have a unique Convention with Physical Distancing; Universal Masking; Bonfire; Total Outdoor Setting and Fireworks,” said Dr. Sajani Shah, Chairwoman of AAPI. “Strict Covid precautions as per CDC, state and federal regulations will be observed throughout the convention, ensuring the safety and wellbeing of every participating delegate,” she assured all the participants.  

Chief Guests at the Mini Convention include, Consulate General of India in Chicago, Hon Amit Kumar and Dr. Srinath Reddy, President of Public Health Foundation of India. Under the leadership of Dr. Vemuri S. Murthy, Chair of AAPI Webinar CME Committee, during the CMEs, eminent and world renowned experts in their respective areas of expertise will share their knowledge and wisdom, enlightening the delegates with new advances in their field of practice.

Physician Wellness: Stress and Burnout will be the topic addressed by Dr. Lucky Jain, Professor and Chair at Emory University School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics& Chief Academic Officer, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta; and, Dr. Rohit Kumar Vasa, an Attending Neonatologist at Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, Chicago, Chair of Pediatrics and Neonatology Site Leader, Mercy Hospital and Medical Center, Chicago.

CME on “A Global Health Topic: Learnings for India’s Health System” will feature Dr. K. Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India and will be moderated by Dr. Navin C. Nanda, Distinguished Professor of Medicine & Cardiovascular Disease at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL; and, Dr. T.S. Ravi Kumar, President, AIIMS, Mangalagiri, AP, India and a Member of WHO Global Patient Safety Experts Curriculum Committee.

The session on Surgical Management of Intracerebral Hemorrhage will be led by Dr. Joseph C. Serrone, Assistant Professor, Neurosurgery and Radiology at Loyola University Medical Center & Neurosurgeon, Edward Hines Jr. Veterans Administration Hospital in Maywood, Illinois; and, Dr. Suresh Reddy, Associate Professor of Radiology at Loyola University Medical Center & Chief of Radiology, Edward Hines Jr. Veterans Administration Hospital in Maywood, Illinois.

“The American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin Mini Convention offers an exciting venue to interact with leading physicians, health professionals, academicians, and scientists of Indian origin,” Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President-Elect of AAPI, said. “The physicians and healthcare professionals from across the country will convene and participate in the scholarly exchange of medical advances, to develop health policy agendas, and to encourage legislative priorities in the coming year,” she added.

“The Mini Convention is forum to network, share knowledge and thoughts, and thus, enrich one another, and rededicate for the health and wellbeing of all the peoples of the world,” Dr. Ravi Kolli, Vice President of AAPI, said, “The Convention also features and will honor the “Best Mask; Best Obesity; and, Best Monument Picture,” he added. 

A dedicated pool of Physicians led by Dr. Meher Medavaram, Convention, Cahir, has been working hard to make the convention a memorable experience for all.

Dr. Amit Chakrabarty, Secretary of AAPI said. “The Mehfil/AAPI Talent Show will provide a perfect setting for the AAPI delegates to display their talents. The extravaganza mouthwatering ethnic cuisine with every day “Theme Menus” with variety of display of best of the culinary art will be a treat for the young and the old.”

“The convention offers a variety of ways to reach physicians and their families. It provides access to hundreds of health professionals who are leaders and decision-makers regarding new products and services, as wells as to national and international health policy advisors,” Dr. Satish Kathula, Treasurer of AAPI, says.

Given that a physician of Indian origin sees every 7th patient in this country and every 5th patient in rural and inner cities across the nation, the reach and influence of AAPI members goes well beyond the Convention.

Physicians of Indian Origin in the United States are reputed to be leading health care providers, holding crucial positions in various hospitals and health care facilities around the nation and the world. Known to be a leading ethnic medical organization that represents nearly 100,000 physicians and fellows of Indian Origin in the US, and being their voice and providing a forum to its members to collectively work together to meet their diverse needs, AAPI members are proud to contribute to the wellbeing of their motherland India, and their adopted land, the United States.

Representing the interests of the over 100,000 physicians of Indian origin, leaders of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), the largest ethnic organization of physicians, for 38 years, AAPI Convention has provided a venue for medical education programs and symposia with world renowned physicians on the cutting edge of medicine.

“Physicians and healthcare professionals from across the country and internationally will convene and participate in the scholarly exchange of medical advances, to develop health policy agendas, and to encourage legislative priorities in the coming year. We look forward to meeting with you all in Chicago!” said Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda.  For more details, and sponsorship opportunities, please visit:   and

National Geographic series, Mega Icons to Feature Deepika Padukone, AR Rahman, Ratan Tata

From actress Deepika Padukone to music maestro AR Rahman and industrialist Ratan Tata, a slew of renowned celebrities will be seen sharing their life experiences on the second season of Mega Icons.

The upcoming National Geographic series will bring viewers closer to these personalities through exclusive and intimate interviews featuring them as well as their close ones. In the episode featuring Deepika, fans will also get to see Ranveer Singh talking about his wife.

“She was going through some kind of emotional turmoil that she was not even aware of and it kept evolving the performer in her. It started coming out in her performances,” Ranveer says in the teaser of “Mega Icons”.

The life story of late Indian American astronaut Kalpana Chawla will feature in the show. “The series seeks to inspire and motivate the youth by diving deep into the lives of these successful personalities, to find the answer to an elusive question: What made them who they are today?” said Anuradha Aggarwal, Head (Infotainment and Kids), Star and Disney India, about “Mega Icons Season 2”, to be premiered on September 20.

The 4-part series will throw light on the four personalities through cinematic recreations and candid interviews with the guests and their loved ones. Talking about featuring in Mega Icons Season 2, actor Deepika Padukone, said, “National Geographic for me embodies credibility and iconicity. I feel incredibly humbled to be a part of the celebrated series, Mega Icons, which allows me to share a glimpse of my journey with people across the world.”

Music maestro AR Rahman added, “It’s a pleasure to be part of Nat Geo’s Mega Icons series along with Ratan Tata ji, Deepika Padukone and the life of the late Kalpana Chawla. I hope you find inspiration from our stories.”

Mega Icons Season 1 debuted in 2018 with stories of Kamal HaasanVirat KohliAPJ Abdul Kalam, Kiran Bedi and Dalai Lama. It was hosted by actor R Madhavan. Mega Icons Season 2 will have its premiere on September 20 at 7 pm with Deepika Padukone’s episode.

National Geographic, a brand with a rich legacy of spectacular storytelling through inspirational content will be bringing alive the legacy of some of India’s top icons with the second season of its unique franchise ‘Mega Icons’. Season 1 of Mega Icons deciphered the success stories of renowned personalities such as Abdul Kalam, Virat Kohli, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Kamal Haasan and Kiran Bedi from a scientific lens. Building on the success of its maiden edition, Season 2 of the series will feature a strong and exclusive line up of some of India’s mega personalities.

Commenting on the launch of Mega Icons Season 2, a National Geographic India spokesperson said, “We understand that youth is inspired by personalities and motivated by their experiences. Our unique franchise ‘Mega Icons’ builds upon this insight and spotlights inspiring tales of some of India’s biggest icons to feed their curiosity. We have extracted exciting and impactful moments by decoding the life journeys of these icons and combined it with rich storytelling of National Geographic, to inspire youth through inspiring content.”

IAPC Plans 7th International Media Conference

Indo American Press Club (IAPC) has planned to organize its 7th International Media Conference (IMC 2020) from October 16-19th 2020. The decision to host the conference in the midst of the ongoing Pandemic was taken during a joint meeting of its Board of Directors and the National Executive Committee held on 7th September 2020.

IAPC Chairman Dr. Joseph Chalil and President Dr. S.S.Lal confirmed that due to the enormous surge of the Covid 19 pandemic, this year’s Media Conference is scheduled to be conducted with the latest virtual conferencing technologies, while having some in person meetings with limited attendance. Along with the various media workshops and seminars led by renowned media experts from abroad, IAPC is proudly presenting the US Presidential Election Debate with the active participation of prominent political leaders and observers from both the Democratic and the Republic Parties.

IAPC has been implementing various action plans to enhance the professional excellence of journalists of Indian origin. As part of this mission, IAPC brings together renowned media professionals from different corners every year, during the Media Conferences. “We strive to educate and help improve the performance of Indian American journalists and those in India by imparting  new knowledge and modern trends to the participants” said Ginsmon Zacharia, founder chairman of IAPC.

IAPC General Secretary Biju Chacko said that the Indian community in the North America and elsewhere have been very supportive of the activities of our Press Club, and have been requested to continue their support for the coming seventh International Media Conference. 

“Leading media personalities from around the world have been collaborating with IAPC” said Mathewkutty Easo, Secretary, Board of Directors. “IAPC is committed to connecting, training and encouraging emerging media professionals through innovative IT windows and platforms.”

IAPC Executive Vice President Annie Koshy said, “Despite the chaos around us, the IAPC has been unflinching in purpose to deliver and meet the needs of the Indian diaspora of journalists based in North America. It is with great joy that I look forward to our 2020 International Media Conference in this new digital format. I expect a much greater reach and impact as this new format opens doors for many more people from around the world to participate.”

National Treasurer Reji Philip said that IAPC is moving forward with the planning and execution of various activities of the seventh International Media Conference, bringing significant presence of the media community as done during the last six years. 

Eminent journalists, political and social activists from around the world are expected to address the conference, for which various committees are being set up to formulate various activities to make the International Media Conference 2020 a grand success. 

The Indo-American Press Club was formed in 2013 with lofty ideal of providing a common platform to journalists of Indian origin living in the United States and Canada, while fostering closer bonds and cooperation among an extensive network of journalists across the nation, who are committed to professionalism and have well-being of the larger society. We are committed to enhance the working conditions of our journalists, exchanging ideas, and offering educational and training opportunities to our members, aspiring young journalists and media professionals around the globe.

Indian Overseas Congress, USA, seeks dismissal of Ankhi Das, FACEBOOK content Chief in India

Indian Overseas Congress, USA, an advocacy group that promotes democracy, freedom, and equal justice in India, condemns the FACEBOOK management for its election-year interference, content bias, and suppression of free expression by Indian citizens to help the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), that is in power.

The Wall Street Journal dated August 14, 2020, wrote a story on how FACEBOOK’s blatant bias and dubious practices in India in favor of the Modi government is having an impact on the social media as regards its citizen’s right to express their opinions in public. These revelations shine a light on how major business houses that include Ambani’s Jio platform and Tech companies in Silicon Valley are heavily invested in India’s current politics and interferes in its communal faultlines.

“It is quite unfortunate that a company founded in a free society undermines the very essence of that philosophy in a sister democracy in the world and that too in favor of a political party that demonstrated its disdain for pluralism, democracy and freedom of religion, “ said George Abraham, Vice-Chairman of the Indian Overseas Congress, USA.

It has been reported that Ms. Ankhi Das, the content manager in charge of FACEBOOK in India, is said to have told her colleagues “punishing violations by politicians from the @narendramodi party would damage the company’s business prospects in the country.” Reuters reported that a handful of employees had written a letter asking FACEBOOK to denounce “anti-Muslim” bigotry” from BJP politicians that Ankit Das said to have protected.      
       “Congress party valiantly fought for freedom and independence and the dignity of every Indian for the last 74 years, and it is regrettable to see that India’s democracy has now been undermined by a profit-making company such as FACEBOOK,” said Mohinder Singh, president of the IOC, USA.

It is a well-known fact that India is the largest market for FACEBOOK and WhatsApp, and these companies have a huge responsibility in managing the content without bias and bigotry. However, they have chosen the side of those that incite violence and encourage instability that has led to destruction of lives and property. Facebook shoulders a heavy responsibility for what has transpired.     

IOC, USA, supports the proposal by the AICC asking Facebook to set up a panel to investigate the blatant bias regarding BJP-RSS and punish those who have engaged in such dubious practices. As a first step, Ankhi Das, who is the content manager for FACEBOOK in India, should be relieved of her duties and be investigated for her connection to a political party since her actions have tainted the company’s reputation as an independent arbiter of opposing viewpoints.

Facebook says will purge hateful posts by public figures in India

Facing intense political heat in India over its alleged role in favouring the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on its platform, social networking giant Facebook on Friday clarified its position, saying it has removed and will continue to remove content posted by public figures in India which violate its community standards.Ajit Mohan, Vice President and Managing Director, Facebook India, said in a statement that Facebook has always been an open, transparent and non-partisan platform where people can express themselves freely.

“Over the last few days, we have been accused of bias in the way we enforce our policies. We take the allegations of bias incredibly seriously, and want to make it clear that we denounce hate and bigotry in any form,” Mohan said.

He was referring to the controversy generated after a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report claimed that Facebook’s content regulation policies favoured the BJP.

The WSJ report sparked a widespread debate in India, raising serious questions over Facebook’s content regulation practices.

The report claimed that Facebook India’s Public Policy Head Ankhi Das had told staff members that punishing violations by BJP politicians would damage the company’s business prospects.

Mohan said the policies at Facebook are “ever-evolving to take into account the local sensitivities, especially in a multicultural society such as India”.

“An example is the inclusion of caste as a protected characteristic in our global hate speech policy in 2018,” Mohan said.

The Facebook India chief said that the employees represent a varied political spectrum who have either served in many administrations or have political experience and take immense pride in being active contributors to public service.

“Despite hailing from diverse political affiliations and backgrounds, they perform their respective duties and interpret our policies in a fair and non-partisan way. The decisions around content escalations are not made unilaterally by just one person; rather, they are inclusive of views from different teams and disciplines within the company,” he elaborated.

Amid the debate, BJP’s IT cell chief Amit Malviya has claimed that Mohan worked with the Planning Commission during the UPA era.

According to Mohan, there is no place for hate speech on Facebook but they need to do more.

“We know this work is never over, which is why we will continue to invest in our efforts to combat hate speech on our services. We welcome the opportunity to engage with all parties — political or otherwise — who want to understand our content policies and enforcement more,” he said, adding that Facebook’s commitment to India and its people is unwavering.

The Congress has demanded that Facebook should order a high-level inquiry into its leadership team and their operations in a time-bound manner, and publish and make transparent all instances of hate speech since 2014 that were allowed on the platform. “Facebook India should appoint a new team so that the investigation is not influenced,” said Congress leader K.C. Venugopal in a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Social connection is key to mental health during coronavirus pandemic

By Binghamton University, State University of New York

It’s important to stay socially connected during the coronavirus pandemic and avoid isolation for the sake of our mental health, says Jennifer Wegmann, PhD, a lecturer in health and wellness studies at Binghamton University, State University of New York.

“I think one of the most important things that all of us can start applying to our lives is the concept of social connection,” said Wegmann. “If you look at research as it relates to stress and coping, one of the most important and effective coping strategies that we all have is utilizing our social network. That looks very different for us now, because we’re used to connecting when we’re face-to-face. Allowing people to connect socially, even though it looks different, is going to remain really important.”

Adversity creates an opportunity for us to get innovative, said Wegmann. For example, some people have used the Zoom video conferencing platform to create a virtual “bar,” where they could socialize with people they knew, as well as strangers, like they would if they were in person.

“This is actually a really creative idea,” said Wegmann. “If we give ourselves a little time and space and opportunity, we will see that we can come up with really creative ways to stay connected.”

Binghamton University offers live or pre-taped interviews powered by a state-of-the-art ReadyCam television studio system, available at a moment’s notice. Our system can broadcast live HD audio and video to networks, news agencies, and affiliates interviewing Binghamton faculty, students, and staff. Video is transmitted by VideoLink and fees may apply.

IAPC Board of Directors for 2020-21 Announced

INDO AMERICAN PRESS CLUB, Inc. (IAPC) has announced the  Board of Directors for the year 2020-21. Dr. Joseph .M.  Chalil will serve and lead IAPC, the largest ethnic Indian American media forum, formed in 2013 to provide a common platform and to be the voice for media personnel of Indian origin, and to help shape the world to be world that is fair, just and equitable for the all today and future generations.

IAPC DIRECTOR BOARD (2)Dr. Mathew Joys is the Vice Chairman and Mathewkutty Easow is the Board Secretary. Other members of the Board of Directors include: Kamlesh Mehta, Ajay Ghosh, Parveen Chopra, Dr. P.V Baiju, Thomas Mathew(Anil), Ginsmon P Zacharia, Korason Varghese, Mini Nair and Thampanoor Mohan.

Prof. Joseph M. Chalil, MD, MBA, FACHE, Cofounder and Publisher of The Universal News Network,, has been selected to be the Chairman, Board of Directors of Indo-American Press Club (IAPC), for a two year term, leading the organization to newer heights. Dr. Chalil, an author of several scientific and research papers in international publications, is the Chairman of Healthcare Advisory Board and an Adjunct Professor at H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship, Nova Southeastern University in Florida and is a member of the Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Allopathic Medicine (NSU MD) Executive Leadership Council, in Florida.

Dr. Chalil holds several US Patents, and is an expert in US Healthcare policy and a strong advocate for patient centered care.A recipient of the prestigious AAPI National Presidential Awards in 2015 and 2013 AAPI New York President’s Award, Dr. Chalil was recognized and honored with the 2013 Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business Award. After completing his studies in India, Dr. Chalil immigrated to the United States, and had his higher studies in Medicine at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Davenport University, and JJM Medical College.

 Dr. Mathew Joys is a founding member of IAPC and a well- known journalist and columnist. His career began in India at the Finance department of the Indian Government and extended his abilities to be the Rotract/Rotary club Director and National General Secretary of Employees federation (NTC) in India. He is also a Creative author and authored many books including the ‘Oh My Beloved’ an interpretation of the Song of Songs in the Bible,  and ‘ American Aadukal’ (the Goats of America) are the few. He is the Executive Editor for the JAIHINDVARTHA Newspaper from NY and Associate Editor for Express Herald and editorial board member for the NERKAZHCHA Weekly from Houston.

Kamlesh Mehta is a Long Island based media entrepreneur, senior Rotarian, community leader, businessman and philanthropist. Hailing from a prominent Jain family in Rajasthan, he started his diamond trading business in Bombay in 1985  before migrating to New York in 1986 to set up an expansive business of rare  gemstones and diamonds. He delved into the media business in 2008, founding The South Asian Times, an award winning leading weekly newspaper for the community. Ventures of his Forsythe Media group include The Asian Era, a lifestyle magazine.

In January 2010, Mehta was appointed to the Nassau County administration to the prestigious position of Director of Business and Economic Development, where he served for over five years.

In September 2009 Mr Mehta became the Charter President of the Rotary Club of Hicksville South. He rose in the international organization to serve as Governor of RI District 7255 in the year 2015-16.

Parveen Chopra is a journalist serving the community for three decades. He is the editor of the New York based The South Asian Times weekly newspaper, and “One World Under God’ interfaith journal. With postgraduate degree in mass communication from Punjab University in Chandigarh, he has worked for India Today magazine and founded a spiritual magazine called Life Positive from New Delhi. He is a trained teacher of Transcendental Meditation and yoga.

Ajay Ghosh, the Chief Editor of Universal News Network, came to the United States to pursue his higher studies in Journalism in 1997 and graduated with a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the School of Journalism at Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI. Having a Master’s Degree in Social Work, he worked as a freelance writer on social issues for numerous publications in Delhi and had worked as the Chief Editor of The Voice Delhi.

In the United States, starting as a reporter for India Post, he worked as the New York Bureau Chief of Indian Reporter and World News and had worked as the New York Bureau Chief of India Tribune, a weekly newspaper, published from Chicago. Ajay had served as the Executive Editor of NRI Today and was the North American Bureau Chief of The Indian Express, North American Editions. Ajay serves as the Media Consultant of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI). In December 2019, he was part of a nearly 200 member expedition to Antarctica, the 7th Continent on Earth.

In addition, Ajay taught Social Work Seminar and guided students at the Graduate School of Social Work, Fordham University in New York City from 2006 to 2016. He was an Adjunct Professor at Bridgeport University. At present, he works as a Psychiatric Social Worker at Yale New Haven Hospital and serves as a Social Worker at Hartford Health At Home. Ajay had served as the founder President of Indo-American Press Club in 2014. In 2015, Ajay was honored with Excellence in Reporting Award by American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin. Ajay received the Excellence Award in 2018 from NAMAM, a North American Community organization that fosters collaboration and education among members of the Indian American community.

 Mathewkutty Easow is a well known Media personality and an experienced Columnist in the Indian American community. He is currently serving as the Vice-chairman for the “JaiHindVartha” USA edition. Mathewkutty is the bureau chief of the Global Reporter New York. He has written on many recognized topics to the Indian community to bring out the truth in a world of information. Prior to immigrating to USA, he had served in the Govt. of India, Central Excise & Customs Department.

Dr. P.V. Baiju comes from the profession of professors and columnists. He has brought out the many avenues of Canadian Indians’ struggles to the world in a profound way. His media work in Canada was recognized as the Organon for Canadian Indians. His regular column “akkare ikkare” in JAIHINDVARTHA detailing the issues of Indo Canadian community is well received worldwide. He works as Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work  at the MacCowen University, Alberta Canada.

Thomas Mathew (Anil) is a well- known photo Journalist in the USA and one of the founding members of the IAPC organization, served in the National Committee and as its National  Treasurer.

Ginsmon P Zacharia is the Founding Chairman of IAPC. He is also the MD of the Global Reporter channel and contributed many relevant topics to the generation. He is the CEO and Publisher of Asian Era and  Aksharam magazines. He worked at the management team for “The South Asian Times” and he was the Bureau Chief  for DEEPIKA in EUROPE for 16 years,  which was the GRAND entry to his  journey in the media industry.

Ginsmon produced the BLOCKBUSTER Reality show on Jaihind TV while crisscrossing the nation and broadcast it in 250 episodes. This program allowed many singers to bring out their talents to the Mainstream. In 2018, he was awared with the prestigious Achievement Award in Journalism by The Kerala Center in New York.

Karson Varghese is a Columnist and Editor of Jai Hind News. He has shown his proven media skills while working as the general secretary at IAPC and P R O of the Y’s Men international . His LIVE media one on one interviews have touched many lives, streamed through “Valkkannadi” segments of the Kalavedi.

Mini Nair is a well-known media personality in India and North America. She is one of the founding members of IAPC and earlier served on the National Executive Committee. She has profound experience  in digital and visual media and  has worked with many recognized TV channels such as Doordarshan, India Vision, Surya TV, Asia Net, and Kairali TV. She is specialized in conducting Talk shows, Live programs, Scripting, and has anchored more than 2500 episodes during the last 25 Years. She has a Degree in Law and Diploma in Journalism from the University of Kerala.  Mini was the president of the IAPC Atlanta chapter in 2019 and earlier served as its Advisory Board Member.

Thampanoor Mohan comes from the print, digital and visual media background and has served for the last 45 years in India and North America.  In India He has been a leading coordinator in the publications of ‘Rural Information Bureau’ . He is a well known photographer, writer and philanthropist among Indian community. He was instrumental in telecasting Malayalam Programs for the first time from North America through Kairali TV.  His strong dedication to the community is demonstrated being one of the founding organizers for KCABC and Vancouver  Malayali Samajam. His contributions in establishing IAPC and its Chapters in Canada are enormous. He is the Regional Director of JaihindVartha Canadian edition, he has been the Media Coordinator  for the Namasthe Canada program sponsored by the Consulate General of India, Vancouver,BC.  He is the producer of “Canadian Connections”. He is now serving as the National Coordinator for Global Reporter channel.

Indo American Press Club (IAPC) is the fast growing syndicate of print, visual, online, and electronic media journalists and other media related professionals of Indian origin working in the United States, Canada, and Europe. IAPC is committed to enhance the working conditions of our journalists, exchanging ideas and offering educational and training opportunities to our members, aspiring young journalists and media professionals around the globe; and also by honoring media people for their excellence, and for bringing in positive changes through their dedicated service among the community. Today IAPC envisages its vision through collective efforts and advocacy activities through its 12 Chapters across the US and Canada, in the larger public sphere. For more information, please visit:

Top 5 Reasons Online Casinos are so Popular Today!

Why are online casinos so popular?

People have always loved the thrill and excitement of playing at casinos right from the beginning. Casinos offer players the experience of fun and joy. It gives them a chance at changing their fortunes overnight.

However, these casinos were not easy to access, with distance and time proving to be a major problem. This led to the birth of online casinos. Ever since they came into existence, online casinos have only continued to increase their stature. One such notable online casino is Casumo Casino.

All the skepticism and doubts that came their way are now slowly starting to disappear. These online websites have done so much to get the stronghold they have today.

Online Casinos have grown so popular

Let us tell you why we think online casinos have grown so popular.

Online casino

Online casinos owe it completely to themselves for making it so far. The potential for growth was certainly there but people seemed to be too worried about safety and security. But now it has become incredibly popular. So, how did they do it? Read to know more.

A lot of improvements and changes were constantly made by casino operators to make online casinos special, and there are quite a number of advantages of playing at online casinos. We can attribute this popularity that they have gained to 5 factors.

Take a look at Casumo Casino. They are a good example to breakdown the growth and popularity of an online casino. Casumo Casino, after being founded in 2012, has grown fast to be a well-esteemed online gambling website and a household name.

The 5 major reasons for online casinos being so popular are as follows:

  • Convenience
  • Bonuses
  • Versatility
  • Safety
  • Mobile Compatibility

The online casinos have grown to be so popular due to each of the above factors that played a major part. Now that you know what, let us tell you how.


The older generation will surely have a story about Las Vegas to tell you or about their dreams of visiting the place. If you are wondering why, it’s the home to casinos and gambling. But not everyone could travel and live the dream.

The introduction of online casinos stormed the world. All that thrill and excitement of a casino right in your hand. The idea of not traveling long distances and time constraints flew right off the handle.

Just picture yourself in a room all to yourself after an incredibly tiring and exhausting day. You take out your phone and open an online betting website. Bang! Right there that very moment. How would you feel? Relaxed and a sort of excitement will be in the air.


A major factor driving customers to online casinos is the welcome bonus and the casino’s promotional offers. Online casinos offer their players welcome bonuses and other such rewards. This makes them very attractive.

The various bonus options and free cash surely lures people. Who would say no to free money?


Do you have to spend loads of time finding a game that piques your interest in casinos? That all changes with online casinos. Every game is just a click away. Just type in and find it. A large number of games to choose from all in one place.

It doesn’t get much better than this.


Initially, players were not all convinced due to real money being used. Most of them were worried about the safety and security of their money. In recent times, with all the technological advancement and encryption, people are convinced and feel safe with putting their money in.

Mobile compatibility

The final reason as to why online casinos became so big is mobile casinos. In today’s world technology is at the center of life, which makes it an attractive option. Mobile has taken over the world. So a mobile app that can be used on the go offers more comfort.

All of these factors greatly influenced the growth of online casinos.  This led to the popularity of online casinos growing rapidly. You could even say that online casinos are at the frontier of technological development today.

Have fun playing at your favourite online casino! We wish you all the luck!

Healthier and Happier Without Facebook

By Ruhr-Universität Bochum

People who reduce the time they spend on Facebook smoke less, are more active and feel better all round. Two weeks of 20 minutes less time per day on Facebook: a team of psychologists from Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) invited 140 test persons to participate in this experiment. Lucky those who took part: afterward they were more physically active, smoked less and were more satisfied. Symptoms of addiction regarding Facebook usage decreased. These effects continued also three months after the end of the experiment. The group headed by Dr. Julia Brailovskaia published their results in the journal “Computers in Human Behavior” on March 6, 2020.

The research team recruited 286 people for the study who were on Facebook for an average of at least 25 minutes a day. The average usage time per day was a good hour. The researchers subdivided the test persons into two groups: the control group comprised of 146 people used Facebook as usual. The other 140 people reduced their Facebook usage by 20 minutes a day for two weeks, which is about one third of the average usage time.

All participants were tested prior to the study, one week into it, at the end of the two-week experiment, and finally one month and three months later. Using online questionnaires, the research team surveyed the way they used Facebook, their well-being and their lifestyle.

Not necessary to give it up altogether

The results showed: participants in the group that had reduced their Facebook usage time used the platform less, both actively and passively. “This is significant, because passive use in particular leads to people comparing themselves with others and thus experiencing envy and a reduction in psychological well-being,” says Julia Brailovskaia. Participants who reduced their Facebook usage time, moreover, smoked fewer cigarettes than before, were more active physically and showed fewer depressive symptoms than the control group. Their life satisfaction increased. “After the two-week period of Facebook detox, these effects, i.e. the improvement of well-being and a healthier lifestyle, lasted until the final checks three months after the experiment,” points out Julia Brailovskaia.

According to the researchers this is an indication that simply reducing the amount of time spent on Facebook every day could be enough to prevent addictive behavior, increase well-being and support a healthier lifestyle. “It’s not necessary to give up the platform altogether,” concludes Julia Brailovskaia.

ccording to the researchers this is an indication that simply reducing the amount of time spent on Facebook every day could be enough to prevent addictive behavior, increase well-being and support a healthier lifestyle. “It’s not necessary to give up the platform altogether,” concludes Julia Brailovskaia.

Reference: “Less Facebook use – More well-being and a healthier lifestyle? An experimental intervention study” by Julia Brailovskaia, Fabienne Ströse, Holger Schillack and Jürgen Margraf, 6 March 2020, Computers in Human Behavior.

7 million join Kerala human chain to protest against CAA

Billed as one of the biggest protests against the CAA, Kerala’s CPI-M-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) on Sunday organised a human chain extending from Kasargod to the Tamil Nadu border near here, involving participation of an estimated seven million people.

People came out in large numbers to participate. After a trial at 3.30 p.m., the chain running on the side of the National Highway from Kasargode to Thiruvananthapuram, a distance of about 600 km, began forming at 4 p.m.

The preamble of the Constitution was first read out and then every participant took a pledge to be ready to give their lives to protect the Constitution, “which is now facing threat on account of the CAA by the BJP-led Central government”.

The human chain was the brainchild of the CPI-M and at the northern point in Kasargode, its Politburo member S.Ramachandran Pillai was first in the chain and at the southernmost end, at the Tamil Nadu border at Kaliyakevala near here, was another Politburo member M.A. Baby.

“Kerala has always led numerous protests and also shown to the rest of the country, what very strong protests can lead to. This show has been near total and even though the leadership of the opposition is not taking part in this, numerous of their supporters have taken part and this shows that we are all one to a wrong decision of the Centre,” Baby told edia soon after he finished taking part in the human chain.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, along with his family members, stood in the chain at Palyam in the heart of the state capital. Soon after his participation, Vijayan told a public meeting that all the protests against CAA was so huge and massive across the state.

Documentary directed by 2 Indian Americans is shortlisted for an Oscar

Helmed by Smirti Mundhra and Sami Khan, ‘St. Louis Superman’ is based on the life and work on rapper and activist Bruce Franks Jr. A documentary, directed by Smirti Mundhra and Sami Khan, on rapper and activist Bruce Franks Jr., has been nominated in the documentary short category for an Oscar. “St. Louis Superman” tells the story of Franks, who was inspired to run for office by the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014.

News reports says the documentary tells the story of how he beats the odds and is elected as a Democrat to the Missouri House of Representatives, an overwhelmingly white and Republican chamber.

Known as ‘Superman’ to his constituents, Frank is described in the documentary as “a political figure full of contradictions and deep insights, who has overcome a great deal of loss to become one of the most dynamic and unapologetic young leaders in the country.”

According to St. Louis magazine, the half-hour documentary, produced by Meralta Films, “depicts Franks’ experiences with mental trauma after losing loved ones to gun violence.” Frank’s 9-year-old brother was shot and killed in front of him. The documentary chronicles his efforts to create change through legislation.

Mundhra told the media that when she was approached by Al Jazeera’s producer Poh Si Teng to make a 30-minute documentary, she was already contemplating working on a film based on the life and work of Franks. It was then that she asked Khan to come on board as a co-director.

Mundhra has been working in the film and television industry for over 15 years. Her latest film, the documentary “A Suitable Girl,” had its world premiere in the documentary competition section of the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival. It received rave reviews, and was awarded the Albert Maysles Best Documentary Director prize at the festival.

Prior to “A Suitable Girl,” Mundhra produced “Bomb the System,” a 2004 Independent Spirit Award nominee for Best First Feature. She also produced the feature film “Waterborne,” which won the audience award at SXSW film festival.

She also co-produced “Punching at the Sun,” an official selection of the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, as well as over one dozen award-winning short films, including the 2010 Sundance Film Festival official selection and Women In Film award winner “New Media.”

Mundhra holds an MFA in Film from Columbia University. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, screenwriter Christian Magalhães, and their daughter Isabel.

Khan is a New York City-based filmmaker whose work has screened at leading festivals including the Toronto International Film Festival and the Mumbai Film Festival.

His feature film debut, “Khoya,” was selected for the Tribeca Film Institute’s Tribeca All Access fellowship in 2016. The film tells the story of a man traveling to India to solve the decades-old mystery surrounding his adoption.

Along with filmmaking partners Michael Gassert and Jonathan Miller, Khan is producer and co-director on “The Last Out,” a documentary in post-production that tells the harrowing tale of four Cuban baseball players and their dangerous journeys out of their homeland and into the United States.

Khan is an adjunct filmmaking lecturer at Columbia University and Brooklyn College. He graduated from Columbia University with an MFA in film.

Oscar nominations 2020: ‘Joker’ leads with 11; complete list of nominees

“Joker,” the controversial drama about the mentally ill Batman villain that sparked backlash with its realistic depictions of extreme violence, triumphed at the 92nd annual Academy Awards nominations on Monday morning, earning 11 nods, the most of any film.

Three films were close behind with 10 nominations: “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” Quentin Tarantino’s fictional ode to 1960s Hollywood; “The Irishman,” Martin Scorsese’s mob drama starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci that clocks in at three and a half hours; and “1917,” the World War I epic that centers on two British soldiers on a dangerous trip to deliver a critical message that could save 1,600 troops.

All four of those movies also earned best picture nominations. Rounding out the prestigious category is “Little Women,” Greta Gerwig’s version of Louisa May Alcott’s tale of four sisters growing up in Massachusetts during the Civil War; “Marriage Story,” which centers on an excruciating divorce and custody battle; “Parasite,” the South Korean psychological thriller-slash-dark comedy; “Jojo Rabbit,” about a young German boy who counts Hitler as an imaginary friend; and “Ford v Ferrari,” based on the true story of Ford’s goal to make a faster car than the Ferrari.

For the second year in a row, there were no women nominated in the best director category: Nominees included Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Bong Joon-ho, Sam Mendes and Todd Phillips, with the notable snub of Gerwig.

Once again, the Oscars ceremony will be host-free – after the debacle over Kevin Hart’s tweets in 2019, the show’s producers aren’t taking any chances. “There was a lot of conversation about which way to go and there may be a day when we decide to have a host again, but the focus has been on the most entertaining show and not on the host,” ABC entertainment president Karey Burke told reporters last week.

The nominations were announced Monday morning, hosted by actress Issa Rae and John Cho. The Academy Awards air Sunday, Feb. 9 – with no host – on ABC.

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Oscar nominations by movie:

“Joker” – 11

“Once Upon a Time In Hollywood” – 10

“The Irishman” – 10

“1917” – 10

“Parasite” – 6

“Marriage Story” 6

“Little Women” – 6

“Bombshell” – 3

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The nominations for the 92nd Academy Awards:

Best picture

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

“The Irishman”



“Marriage Story”

“Jojo Rabbit”


“Little Women”

“Ford v Ferrari”

Analysis: The best predictors for the Oscar nominations are often the respective category’s guild awards, and this year’s best picture nominees almost mirror those for the Producers Guild Awards’ top prize. The exception would be “Knives Out,” which the PGAs nominated but which landed only a best original screenplay nomination here. None of these titles are a shock, though it’s worth noting that “Parasite” has picked up enough steam in the past few weeks to land major nominations outside the international feature film category.

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Best actress in a leading role

Renée Zellweger, “Judy”

Charlize Theron, “Bombshell”

Scarlett Johansson, “Marriage Story”

Saoirse Ronan, “Little Women”

Cynthia Erivo, “Harriet”

Analysis: There are no major surprises here, though one could surely take issue with the lack of nods for Awkwafina, a Golden Globe winner for her dramatic turn in “The Farewell,” and Cho Yeo-jeong, a scene-stealer in Bong Joon-ho’s heavily nominated “Parasite.” Unlike BAFTA, the voting body overseeing Britain’s equivalent of the Oscars, the academy also gave a nod to Erivo’s performance in the long-awaited “Harriet.” It’s worth noting that Johansson is nominated for her first Oscar (make that two, since she also got a supporting actress nod for “Jojo Rabbit.”) She has solid contenders in Zellweger, Theron and Ronan, so the outcome for this category is anyone’s guess.

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Best actor in a leading role

Joaquin Phoenix, “Joker”

Adam Driver, “Marriage Story”

Leonardo DiCaprio, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

Antonio Banderas, “Pain and Glory”

Jonathan Pryce, “The Two Popes”

Analysis: Joaquin Phoenix, the clear front-runner; Adam Driver; and Leonardo DiCaprio have consistently landed best actor nominations throughout award season, but those last two slots have been in flux. Critics’ favorite Antonio Banderas was always in the running for his emotional performance in Pedro Almodóvar’s “Pain and Glory,” while Jonathan Pryce also earned a Golden Globe nomination for his role in “The Two Popes.” Potential snubs include Christian Bale for “Ford v Ferrari” and Robert De Niro for “The Irishman,” two films that fared well in other categories.

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Best director

Martin Scorsese, “The Irishman”

Quentin Tarantino, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

Bong Joon-ho, “Parasite”

Sam Mendes, “1917”

Todd Phillips, “Joker”

Analysis: “Congratulations to those men,” Rae joked after the nominations were read. Indeed, the lack of Greta Gerwig’s inclusion for “Little Women” is a snub, though sadly not an unexpected one. The director to watch here is Tarantino, who has been twice nominated for the award to no avail. A wave of goodwill has swelled around Bong’s film “Parasite.” Directors of foreign-language films don’t historically win in this category – Alfonso Cuarón winning for “Roma” last year being a notable exception – so a W for Joon-ho could begin a welcome/interesting trend. But let’s not forget that although Phillips’s “Joker” might be the year’s most divisive film, it’s also the one with the most Oscar nods. One thing’s for certain: A dude will be bringing this trophy home … again.

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Best actor in a supporting role

Brad Pitt, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

Al Pacino, “The Irishman”

Joe Pesci, “The Irishman”

Tom Hanks, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”

Anthony Hopkins, “The Two Popes”

Analysis: This race has long been Pitt’s to lose, especially if Pacino and Pesci split voters fond of Scorsese’s mob epic. If Pitt does emerge victorious, it’ll be his first Oscar win for acting, despite three nominations. However, the academy always enjoys an actor’s soulful transformation into a real person, so Hanks’s turn as Mister Rogers stands a strong chance. But no one should sleep on Hopkins – voter buzz around “The Two Popes” has been strong during the past few months. One thing’s for certain: Netflix did well here; three of the five performances were in films produced by the streaming service.

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Best actress in a supporting role

Laura Dern, “Marriage Story”

Margot Robbie, “Bombshell”

Florence Pugh, “Little Women”

Scarlett Johansson, “Jojo Rabbit”

Kathy Bates, “Richard Jewell”

Analysis: If any race has a clear front-runner, it’s here. Dern has spent most of the year as a favorite, and nothing here suggests she won’t win – except, maybe, Johansson’s nomination. The actress, who has never before been nominated, appears both here and in best actress (for “Marriage Story”). There’s clearly a wave of support for Johansson, which suggests she just might upset Dern. Speaking of upset, though she was a long shot, many “Hustlers” fans are decrying the lack of Jennifer Lopez – some even calling it a snub.

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Best international feature film

South Korea, “Parasite”

Spain, “Pain and Glory”

France, “Les Misérables”

North Macedonia, “Honeyland”

Poland, “Corpus Christi”

Analysis: “Parasite,” which landed five other nominations, is somehow the first South Korean film to ever appear in this category. It’s the obvious front-runner, with Pedro Almodóvar’s “Pain and Glory,” a drama about the life of an aging film director, and Ladj Ly’s “Les Misérables,” a film inspired by the 2005 Paris riots, perhaps tied for second.The category, recently renamed from “best foreign language film,” drummed up quite a bit of controversy when the academy disqualified two entries, Nigeria’s “Lionheart” and Austria’s “Joy,” for featuring too much dialogue in English – an issue many thought would be resolved by the change in name. But the category’s requirement that each film feature a “predominantly non-English dialogue track” remained the same.

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Best adapted screenplay

“The Irishman”

“Jojo Rabbit”

“Little Women”

“The Two Popes”


Analysis: If we were betting types, we would have made a nice bit of pocket money off this category. The uplifting “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” got no love, but the nihilistic “Joker” did, which, honestly, sign of our times, right? Greta Gerwig, snubbed for directing, gets some shine in this category for her novel approach to adapting a story that’s been told many times before. If “The Irishman” takes it, will it provide encouragement to writers nationwide, the ones who have difficulty editing down their work to more reasonable lengths?

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Best original screenplay

“Marriage Story”

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”


“Knives Out”


Analysis: As mainstream films rely more and more heavily on preexisting intellectual property with each passing year, it’s certainly refreshing to be reminded that original stories can capture the imagination of both moviegoers and industry insiders alike. That’s certainly what this category suggests, as four of the five films nominated here also received best picture nods. Tarantino is so known for winning this award, some in Hollywood call it “the Tarantino.” But don’t forget about Rian Johnson, whose crowd-pleasing whodunit “Knives Out” has been widely celebrated but received only a single nomination from the academy.

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Best animated feature film

“Toy Story 4”

“How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World”

“Missing Link”

“I Lost My Body”


Analysis: Pixar’s “Toy Story 4” is the clear front-runner here, though don’t discount the category’s other offerings – particularly “I Lost My Body,” a dark French drama that stunned at Cannes, and “Klaus,” a tender Christmas story from Netflix. We are surprised to see “Frozen II” left out of the mix – an omission that’s getting a rather chilly reception on social media.

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Best documentary feature

“American Factory”

“The Edge of Democracy”


“For Sama”

“The Cave”

Analysis: This may be “American Factory’s” category to lose. The feature, which was produced by the Obamas and follows an Ohio auto-glass manufacturing plant’s transition to Chinese ownership, already won the directing award at Sundance. Even more notable is what’s missing: “One Child Nation” and “Apollo 11,” the latter of which did incredibly well at the box office for a documentary and topped some experts’ prediction lists for the feature to win in this category.

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Best documentary short subject

“In the Absence”

“Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)”

“Life Overtakes Me”

“St. Louis Superman”

“Walk Run Cha-Cha”

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Best animated short film

“Dcera (Daughter)”

“Hair Love”




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Best live action short film


“Nefta Football Club”

“The Neighbors’ Window”


“A Sister”

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Best film editing

“The Irishman”

“Ford v Ferrari”



“Jojo Rabbit”

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Best cinematography

“1917,” Roger Deakins

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” Robert Richardson

“The Irishman,” Rodrigo Prieto

“Joker,” Lawrence Sher

“The Lighthouse,” Jarin Blaschke

Analysis: It’s wonderful to see Blaschke’s work on the visually striking (even upsetting) film “The Lighthouse” recognized by the academy, especially since the film received no other nominations. But it’s going to be tough to topple Deakins, who is considered by many – and particularly among academy voters – to be the best in the business, and whose “1917” turns the beautiful horror of war into a visual feast.

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Best original song

“I’m Standing With You,” from “Breakthrough”

“Into the Unknown,” from “Frozen II”

“Stand Up,” from “Harriet”

“(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” from “Rocketman”

“I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away,” from “Toy Story 4”

Analysis: Well, once Taylor Swift and Andrew Lloyd Weber’s song from “Cats” was excluded from the shortlist, all bets were off here! But seriously, the absence of “Spirit” from “The Lion King” soundtrack is notable, as the Beyoncé ballad was expected to show up in this category. But Disney should be happy, because while “Frozen II” was left off the best animated film list, at least it earned a nod for its signature song from the sequel. It might be tough to achieve the same success as “Let It Go,” though – industry voters appear to be big fans of “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from the Elton John biopic.

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Best visual effects

“Avengers: Endgame”

“The Lion King”

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”

“The Irishman”


Analysis: This award is generally the most likely to honor blockbuster films. While this year is no different, it’s sneakily one of the most interesting categories here, showing a tension between old and new Hollywood. “The Irishman” made headlines for employing technology to de-age (and, in some cases, age) its actors, while “The Lion King” employed photorealistic computer-generated animation (which, in layman’s terms, means it looks like the animals are real). Meanwhile, traditional big-budget action movies like “Avengers: Endgame” and “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” fight for the title, along with “1917,” a traditionally beautiful film employing a visual gimmick to make the entire film feel like one shot.

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Best production design

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

“The Irishman”


“Jojo Rabbit”


Analysis: All five titles were also nominated by the Art Directors Guild this year, so they stood a good chance of landing Oscar nods as well. The buzziest picks might be “1917,” the World War I film shot to appear as one continuous take that therefore required production designer Dennis Gassner to build sets to hyper-specific lengths to facilitate the actual filming after months of rehearsing on an open field to get the timing down perfectly. Much of “Parasite” takes place in the affluent Park family’s home, which appears to be a real, layered mansion but was actually a set that director Bong Joon-ho and production designer Lee Ha-Jun designed entirely from scratch.

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Best makeup and hairstyling




“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil”


Analysis: “Bombshell” was a shoo-in, especially given Charlize Theron’s startlingly similar look to the real-life Megyn Kelly. “Joker” and “Judy” were also expected, though many prognosticators thought the depiction of 1960s Los Angeles stars in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and the costumes in “Rocketman” would win out over “1917” and “Maleficent” (though Angelina Jolie’s look is impressive).

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Best costume design

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

“Little Women”

“The Irishman”

“Jojo Rabbit”


Analysis: We’re not surprised to see a slew of period films here, but there are arguably a few worthy contenders missing: “Rocketman,” “Harriet” and, most notably, “Dolemite Is My Name,” helmed by “Black Panther” costume designer Ruth E. Carter. But if the rest of the categories are any indication, this could come down to “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” vs. “Joker.”

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Best sound mixing


“Ford v Ferrari”

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

“Ad Astra”


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Best sound editing


“Ford v Ferrari”

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”


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Best original score

“1917,” Thomas Newman

“Joker,” Hildur Guðnadóttir

“Little Women,” Alexandre Desplat

“Marriage Story,” Randy Newman

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” John Williams

Analysis: Gudnadottir’s unsettling “Joker” score has done well in the smaller awards shows preceding the Oscars, earning a Golden Globe, a Critic’s Choice Movie Award and a Satellite Award. But now “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” and its familiar epic score, which came out at the end of 2019, has had time to embed itself more deeply into audience’s minds. And it’s important to note that Williams is something of a titan, having now received a breathtaking 52 Oscar nominations. No one but Walt Disney has received more, so Gudnadottir has her work cut out for her.

Deepika Padukone Visits JNU, Stands With Students Attacked By Goons On Campus

Actor Deepika Padukone visited Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on Tuesday, two days after a masked mob attacked students and teachers on the campus, leaving over 30 injured and provoking nationwide outrage.

Though Ms Padukone did not speak at the university, she was seen standing with a group of students who were attacked including president of the students’ union Aishe Ghosh. Former student leader Kanhaiya Kumar was also present.

Padukone reached the university campus at around 7.40 pm and attended a public meeting, called by the JNU Teacher’s Association and JNU Students’ Union in response to Sunday’s attack on students and teachers by a masked mob armed with sticks and rods.

Padukone remained standing as former JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar raised slogans; she then left by the time current president Aishe Ghosh started to speak.

Sources close to Ms Padukone said she had gone to express solidarity with the students. However, JNUSU president Aishe Ghosh was critical of the actor for not speaking at the meet. “When you are in a position you should speak up,” JNUSU President Aishe Ghosh said after the actor left without addressing the meet.

Deepika was spotted standing with students at the Sabarmati T-point, where a public meeting had been called by JNU alumni over Sunday’s violence. She also met Ghosh who received injuries. Padukone didn’t address the meeting and left after an hour.

Amid drones flying over the meeting to keep an eye on students, Aishe targeted the JNU administration for filing complaints against her. “There are 3 FIRs against me, but I am not scared of the V-C. Even if you file 70 FIRs for all the 70 days of struggle against fee hike, we will continue our struggle”

The meeting was also attended by former JNU students, including Sitaram Yechury, Yogendra Yadav, D. Raja and Kanhaiya Kumar.

Kumar, who was targeted for allegedly raising anti-national slogans in JNU few years ago, said, “I am called the leader of tukde-tukde gang. I take it as an honour.”

“Hatred for the JNU is not hatred for a university or ideology, but the thought as how a country should be,” Kanhaiya. “The government is making a mistake. They have chosen an enemy that is intelligent and studies,” he remarked.

The 34-year-old actor is in the capital to promote her upcoming release, Meghna Gulzar-directed ‘Chhapaak’. Padukone said she feels proud that people have come out and raised their voice without fear, in reference to the protests against the amended Citizenship Act, the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and violence in JNU.

“I feel proud to see that we aren’t scared to express ourselves… I think the fact that we are thinking about the country and its future…. Whatever may be our point of view, it’s nice to see,” she had said.

“I feel proud about it that people are coming out — be it on the streets or wherever they are — they are raising their voice and expressing themselves as it is important. If we want to see change in life and society, it is important that a point of view be put forward,” she added.

The Padmaavat star’s solidarity and visit in support of the JNU students  in Delhi instantly triggered calls by the ruling BJP to boycott her movies.

Artificial Intelligence And Fake News

A lot has changed since technology took over the world. Back then, not everyone had access to these sophisticated gadgets because they are far too expensive and only the rich can afford it. But with the mass production of these things, even the masses can now afford to buy one without spending a fortune.

We have access to news, information, ideas, opinions and virtual presentation of everything that happens around the world in our finger tips. The present generation has access to these probably more than most of the past generations put together.

The challenge is to differentiate between truth from falsehood. All that we see and hear and experience not necessarily reflect the truth or the reality.

During the run-up to the 2016 US presidential election, we were treated to headlines such as “Hillary Clinton sold weapons to ISIS” and “Pope Francis endorsed Donald Trump for President”. Both were completely untrue.

But they were just two examples of a tsunami of attention-grabbing, false stories that flooded social media and the internet. Many such headlines were simply trying to drive traffic to websites for the purpose of earning advertising dollars. Others though, seemed part of a concerted attempt to sway public opinion in favor of one presidential candidate or the other.
Social Media was filled with the so-called “fake news”. A study conducted by news website BuzzFeed revealed that fake news travelled faster and further during the US election campaign.

The 20 top-performing false election stories generated 8,711,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook, whereas the 20 best-performing election stories from 19 reputable news websites generated 7,367,000 shares, reactions and comments.

The 2020 election season is upon us, with historical importance for the United States and the world. People are concerned that the 2016 election cycle related fake news strategy used by people to favor Trump and discredit Hillary Clinton should not be repeated and all steps need to be taken to prevent fake news reaching the public.

Facebook, Twitter Inc. and Google parent Alphabet Inc. are discovering the harsh reality that disinformation and hate speech are even more challenging in emerging markets than in places like the U.S. or Europe.
India with as many as 900 million voters in the recently concluded election that culminated with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling coalition returned to an unprecedented victory, the Social Media giants, Facebook Inc. to Google, had made huge efforts with Facebook hiring contractors to verify content in 10 of the country’s 23 official languages.

There are more technological advances in creating and circulating fake news today than ever before. Recently, I came across a report by BBC, “Dangerous AI offers to write fake news.”
The writer suggested that Artificial Intelligence (AI) system has been found to be able to “generates realistic stories, poems and articles has been updated, with some claiming it is now almost as good as a human writer.”

In February this year, OpenAI catapulted itself into the public eye when it produced a language model so good at generating fake news that the organization decided not to release it.

Recently, they released an advanced version of it. The model, called GPT-2, was trained on a dataset of eight million web pages, and is able to adapt to the style and content of the initial text given to it. “It can finish a Shakespeare poem as well as write articles and epithets,” the report stated.

A BBC report, based on research and tests done by BBC staff and technocrats found that a Text Generator, built by research firm OpenAI, has developed a new, powerful version of the system – that could be used to create fake news or abusive spam on social media.
Tristan Greene, an author, commented about AI, “I’m terrified of GPT-2 because it represents the kind of technology that evil humans are going to use to manipulate the population – and in my opinion that makes it more dangerous than any gun.”
President Donald Trump has been warning about “fake news” throughout his entire political career putting a dark cloud over the journalism professional.

A new program called “deepfaking,” a product of AI and machine learning advancements that allows high-tech computers to produce completely false yet remarkably realistic videos depicting events that never happened or people saying things they never said.

Deepfake technology is allowing organizations that produce fake news to augment their “reporting” with seemingly legitimate videos, blurring the line between reality and fiction like never before — and placing the reputation of journalists and the media at greater risk.
It is alarming that machines are now equipped with the “intelligence” to create fake news, and write like humans, adapting to human style and content, appealing to the sections of audience they want to target.

The quest for artificial intelligence (AI) began over 70 years ago, with the idea that computers would one day be able to think like us. Ambitious predictions attracted generous funding, but after a few decades there was little to show for it. But, in the last 25 years, new approaches to AI, coupled with advances in technology, mean that we may now be on the brink of realizing those pioneers’ dreams.

Artificial intelligence is able to transform the relationship between people and technology, charging our creativity and skills. The future of AI promises a new era of disruption and productivity, where human ingenuity is enhanced by speed and precision.
When this happens, the journalism industry is going to face a massive consumer trust issue, according to Zhao. He fears it will be hard for top-tier media outlets to distinguish a real video from a doctored one, let alone news consumers who haphazardly stumble across the video on Twitter.

While Artificial Intelligence has advanced much, with the noble purpose of making life easier for human beings, it has thrown massive challenges for all of us and for the need to carefully distinguish reality from fake news; from truth to falsehood.

Human behavior and our responses to the newsfeed has changed along with the rise of the Internet and social media. People are always on their smartphones or gadgets checking on their social media accounts that they often mistake virtual reality for real life. While it has helped us connect instantly with people living thousands of miles away, it has contributed to people losing real “touch” with people in their lives.

Moreover, people usually only show the good side of their lives to the public but in reality, life is not a bed of roses. There are difficulties and challenges that come our way but we often bottle it up, to give others the perception that our life is perfect. In that way, social media affects human behavior negatively.

The key here is to use it in moderation knowing how many people often lose themselves when using it. Even too much of a good thing can still be bad for you.

Is Your Smartphone Ruining Your Relationship?

Smartphone dependency is on the rise. According to Dr. James A. Roberts, “the typical American checks his or her smartphone once every six-and-a-half minutes, or roughly 150 times each day.”
When one of these frequent phone checks interrupts a conversation or quality time with a romantic partner, it can have serious consequences on the relationship.
The term “phubbing” (derived from “phone-snubbing”) describes those moments we are all too familiar with, when one partner gets distracted by their phone and the other partner feels rejected.
In fact, phubbing has become so common that it is now one of the biggest sources of conflicts in romantic relationships—right up there with arguments about money, kids, and sex!
Is Your Smartphone Ruining Your Relationship?The sexual health department at the Cheikh Khalifa Ben Zayed international university hospital in Casablanca in Morocco has revealed that nearly 60 per cent of the study participants admitted having problems in their sex lives because of smartphones.
According to a report in Morocco World News citing the scientific study, all 600 participants had smartphones and a whopping 92 per cent admitted to using them at night.
Only 18 per cent of them put their phones on airplane mode in their bedrooms.
The study found that the smartphones negatively impacted adults aged between 20 and 45 years, with 60 per cent saying the devices disturbed their “sexual performances.”
“Around 50 per cent of the interviewees declared “not being comfortable” with their sex lives because of the large portion of time allocated to smartphone use,” the report mentioned
A survey by US-based SureCall — a company that produces devices to boost cell phone reception, last year found that 17 per cent millennials reach for their smartphone during sex.
Almost three-quarters said they sleep with their smartphone either on or next to their bed at night. Those who sleep with their phone nearby were twice as likely to admit they feel fear or anxiety when away from the device.
Alarmingly, these people were also twice as likely to say they are “somewhat dissatisfied with their lives”, the survey claimed.
An earlier study by Durham University and commissioned by condom-maker Durex found that people are more likely to be seduced by gadgets than by their partners.
One third of participants in the study admitted to interrupting sex to answer incoming calls.
Mark McCormack, who carried out the interviews, said taking gadgets into the bedroom has “potentially serious costs to relationships”.
Couples keen to know how their smartphones could make their sex lives more exciting were surprised to learn the answer is the switch-off key.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Brandon McDaniel, who studied phones and relationships at Illinois State University, “found that when technology devices frequently interrupted partners, couples had more conflict over technology use, lower relationship satisfaction, more depressive symptoms and lower life satisfaction.”
Yet, this is an incredibly common problem. A study on “Technoference,” the interference of technology in relationships, found that 70 percent of participants reported that smartphone interruptions negatively impacted interactions with their romantic partners.
Authors of the study explain that by allowing technology to interrupt time spent with romantic partners “individuals may be sending implicit messages about what they value most, leading to conflict and negative outcomes in personal life and relationships.”

The bottom line is: nobody likes to be phubbed. It makes us feel as though our partners don’t take us seriously and/or don’t find us interesting. It leads to more insecurity in ourselves and more uncertainty about our relationships.
So, if your goal is  to have a happy, healthy relationship, it’s best to consistently prioritize your partner over your smartphone. The more distance you put between yourself and your phone, the more closeness you can achieve in your relationship.

Greta Thunberg Is TIME Person of the Year

Greta Thunberg, 16, a Swedish climate crisis activist, has been chosen by TIME as person of the year. Thunberg is the youngest individual to be recognized for this honor that has recognized the mighty and most influential people in the world for over a century.
“I could never have imagined anything like that happening,” Ms. Thunberg said, adding that she was “surprised” by the news.
Although she said she was “grateful” for it, she said the honor should be shared with others taking action against climate change. “It should be everyone in the Fridays for Future movement because what we have done, we have done together,” she said.
The activist’s rise started in August 2018, when she skipped school to protest climate change outside the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm, where she grew up. Since then, she has become an international fixture, speaking before the United Nations and meeting with numerous heads of state as well as the pope.
Greta Thunberg Is TIME Person of the YearThunberg gained international attention for excoriating world leaders for their inaction in the climate crisis in a viral speech she made at the UN Climate Action Summit in September. She criticized world leaders again at the COP25 conference last week.
“Thunberg has become the biggest voice on the biggest issue facing the planet—and the avatar of a broader generational shift in our culture that is playing out everywhere from the campuses of Hong Kong to the halls of Congress in Washington,” Time editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal wrote.
Thunberg has become a leading face of a movement that has inspired millions of other children in at least 100 countries to argue passionately for action against climate change.
Each year, TIME magazine features the most influential person, group, movement or idea of the previous 12 months. Last year, it was “The Guardians,” a group of journalists who have been targeted or assaulted for their work. In 2017, it was “The Silence Breakers,” the group of people who came forward to report sexual misconduct.
This marks the third year in a row in which Time has named a person who was not a world leader. President Donald Trump was Person of the Year in 2016 and Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel was recognized the year before that. The magazine has also featured unpopular figures like Adolf Hitler, Ayatollah Khomeini and Joseph Stalin as Person of the Year.
“We describe it as the person who influenced the years’ events most, for better or for worse. But I really think of it as Time is about the people and ideas that shape the world and Person of the Year is about the people who shaped the year,” Felsenthal told the media. “She was a solo protestor with a hand-painted sign 14 months ago. She’s now led millions of people around the world, 150 countries, to act on behalf of the planet,” Felsenthal said.
Time also announced winners of four new categories. Athlete of the year is the US women’s soccer team, entertainer of the year is Lizzo and business person of the year is Disney CEO Bob Iger.
After recognizing “The Guardians” last year, Time created a new category to recognize a different group of “Guardians” — those who took to the stand and risked their careers in the defense of the rule of law. The public servants in this category include the whistleblower, Marie Yovanovitch, Ambassador William Taylor, Fiona Hill, Lieut. Colonel Alexander Vindman and Mark Sandy.
Time chose to select category winners instead of recognizing runner-ups in part because the magazine is now independently owned and no longer a part of a conglomerate, Felsenthal told CNN Business. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne Benioff bought Time Magazine from Meredith Corp last year.
Greta Thunberg Is TIME Person of the YearThunberg’s moment comes just as urgent scientific reality collides with global political uncertainty. Each year that we dump more carbon into the atmosphere, the planet grows nearer to a point of no return, where life on earth as we know it will change unalterably. Scientifically, the planet can’t afford another setback; politically, this may be our best chance to make sweeping change before it’s too late.
Greta’s mother Malena Ernman is a leading Swedish opera singer. Her father Svante Thunberg is distantly related to Svante Arrhenius, a Nobel Prize–winning chemist who studied how carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases the temperature on the earth’s surface.
More than a century after that science became known, Thunberg’s primary-school teacher showed a video of its effects: starving polar bears, extreme weather and flooding. The teacher explained that it was all happening because of climate change. Afterward the entire class felt glum, but the other kids were able to move on. Thunberg couldn’t.
She began to feel extremely alone. She was 11 years old when she fell into a deep depression. For months, she stopped speaking almost entirely, and ate so little that she was nearly hospitalized; that period of malnutrition would later stunt her growth. Her parents took time off work to nurse her through what her father remembers as a period of “endless sadness,” and Thunberg herself recalls feeling confused.
“I couldn’t understand how that could exist, that existential threat, and yet we didn’t prioritize it,” she says. “I was maybe in a bit of denial, like, ‘That can’t be happening, because if that were happening, then the politicians would be taking care of it.’”
In September, she arrived in New York after a 15-day sail across the Atlantic on an emissions-free yacht ahead of her speech at the United Nations Climate Action Summit. She set sail again in November for Spain for the 25th United Nations Climate Change conference. “I decided to sail to highlight the fact that you can’t live sustainably in today’s society,” Thunberg told the media by phone before leaving the country. “You have to go to the extreme.”
Describing her journey on the boat across the ocean, TIME wrote: “For a moment, it’s as if Thunberg were the eye of a hurricane, a pool of resolve at the center of swirling chaos. In here, she speaks quietly. Out there, the entire natural world seems to amplify her small voice, screaming along with her.”

“We can’t just continue living as if there was no tomorrow, because there is a tomorrow,” she was quoted as saying during her 15-day sail, tugging on the sleeve of her blue sweatshirt. “That is all we are saying.”
The politics of climate action are as entrenched and complex as the phenomenon itself, and Thunberg has no magic solution. But she has succeeded in creating a global attitudinal shift, transforming millions of vague, middle-of-the-night anxieties into a worldwide movement calling for urgent change.
She has offered a moral clarion call to those who are willing to act, and hurled shame on those who are not. She has persuaded leaders, from mayors to Presidents, to make commitments where they had previously fumbled: after she spoke to Parliament and demonstrated with the British environmental group Extinction Rebellion, the U.K. passed a law requiring that the country eliminate its carbon footprint.
She has focused the world’s attention on environmental injustices that young indigenous activists have been protesting for years. Because of her, hundreds of thousands of teenage “Gretas,” from Lebanon to Liberia, have skipped school to lead their peers in climate strikes around the world.
Thunberg is known for expressing her anger and dismay with adults who are not, shall we say, on the same page. “Adults keep saying, ‘We owe it to the young people to give them hope,’” Ms. Thunberg said in January at the World Economic Forum. “But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.”

Indian sand artist wins People’s Choice Award at Boston festival

Sudarshan Pattnaik’s sculpture highlighted the dangers of plastic pollution in oceans

Renowned Indian sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik has won the People’s Choice Award at the recently-concluded Revere Beach International Sand Sculpting Festival in Boston, Massachusetts.

Pattnaik was among the 15 top sand artists selected from across the world to participate in the annual festival. His sand sculpture titled “Stop Plastic Pollution, Save Our Ocean,” highlighted dangers of plastic pollution in oceans and the importance and urgency to combat it. The Odisha native is known to convey social messages and themes through his art.

Pattnaik’s sculpture showed a turtle caught in a plastic bag and a fish with plastic trash such as slippers, bottles and glass inside its body. The tail of the fish is in the mouth of a human, signifying how plastic pollution in the oceans is adversely impacting human beings also when they consume sea food.

“This is a very big award and honor for me in the U.S.,” Pattnaik told the Press Trust of India. “This award is for India,” he added. “Thousands of people voting for my sculpture that highlights the problem of plastic pollution underscores that the public too is concerned about our oceans getting polluted and supports the urgent need to take action to save our oceans and planet,” he said. Through his sculpture he said he wants to highlight that human activity is destroying the oceans and humans are also getting impacted by polluted waterways as they consume food from the sea and rivers.

Hosted by non-profit organization Revere Beach Partnership, the festival, now in its 16th year, ran from July 26-28 and was attended by close to a million people. One of the largest sand sculpting festivals in the world, it sees participation from leading sand sculptors from around the world. Pattnaik was the sole representative from India and Asia.

How to delete your Google account data when you die

In the age of the internet, data is most precious entity in this world. Our email accounts today not only the holders of our day-to-day conversations but they are also the pathways to our entire digital lives. Our Gmail or Google accounts not only store our emails but they also are the key point from where we can access the data of our other Google apps such as Maps, Calendar, Keep, Photos, Drive and YouTube to name a few.

But have you ever wondered what will happen to all of this data when you are not around or when you are unable to custodians of your own data? Probably not.

Well, Facebook gives you the option to memorialize your account. Google, on the other hand, lets you pick select contacts who get the data that you give them access to if your account remains inactive for a pre-selected period of time. You can either choose to share data with them or just add their names to confirm that youwellare not around anymore. As far as the remaining data is concerned, you can simply toggle a button to delete it all once your selected grace period is over.

So, here is how you can ensure that all the data in your Google account is safe when you are gone:

– First of all open

– Next, tap on Manage your data and personalization option under the Privacy and Personalisation section.

– Scroll down to Download, delete or make a plan for your data section and tap on Make a plan for your data option.

– Tap on Start.

First update your contact information

– First set the time period for which Google should wait till it considers your account inactive. Google gives you choice of 3, 6, 12 and 18 months to pick from.

– Next, add a phone number you want Google to contact. You can add your phone number here. Alternatively, you can add the phone number of your closest family member.

– Now add your contact email ID and your alternate email ID.

– Tap on Next.

Add the people you want to notify

– Tap on Add person option.

– Type in the email ID of your friend or family member and tap on Next.

– Choose what you want to share with them and tap on Next.

– Add the phone number of your contact (they will be able to download a copy of the data that you give them access to) and tap on Save. You can also add a personal message for that person.

– You can add up to 10 people this way. Once you have added all the people you want to inform, tap on Next.

Decide if you want to delete your Google account

– Toggle the ‘Yes, delete my inactive Google Account’ button if you want Google to delete your account and all the details in it when your select period is over.

– Tap on Review Plan and then tap on Confirm Plan option and you are good to go.

You can also tap on Turn off my plan option to turn off your plan.

“I Enjoy Learning About New Cultures, it Helps Me Grow” Says Sunny Leone on Debut in South Cinema

Actress Sunny Leone, who is foraying into the southern film industry with movies like “Rangeela” and “Veeramadevi”, believes it will help her grow. “Nothing is tough when you enjoy doing it or are passionate about the same. South industry will definitely help me grow,” Sunny told IANS.

“Being able to learn about a new culture is something that I like and enjoy a lot,” added the actress. On the Bollywood front, the 38-year-old has been roped in for a horror-comedy called “Coca Cola”.

She says there’s room for all genres. “Today, content sells and if it’s good, people will bite into it. So, there is room for every genre and an audience for the same.”

Former adult film actress Sunny Leone made a swift move into the Hindi film industry in 2012. And now the Indo-Canadian actress is all set to make her debut in a Tamil film. She says south Indian films would help her grow as a person and an actress. Sunny, whose real name is Karenjit Kaur Vohra, will be launched in the Tamil film industry with the upcoming film “Veeramdevi”.

Asked if she agrees that working in a south Indian film will help to broaden her reach, Sunny told IANS in an e-mail interaction: “Yes, I agree that this film will help me grow as a person and as an actress. Being able to learn about a completely different culture is something that I like a lot and enjoy.” But won’t there be a language barrier?

“It will be challenging, but I am not worried about learning it for this film. I am actually very excited about this whole process,” she said about the film in which she will play a warrior princess. “That is something that I have always wanted to do. The amount of effort that has gone into this character is amazing and I’m beyond excited to start shooting. I will be taking riding lessons… in Los Angeles and in India. And, of course, I will be attending workshops to learn Tamil,” she added.

Students From 1,600 Cities Just Walked Out of School to Protest Climate Change. It Could Be Greta Thunberg’s Biggest Strike Yet

Hundreds of thousands of students around the world walked out of their schools and colleges Friday in the latest in a series of strikes urging action to address the climate crisis. According to event organizers Fridays for Future, over 1664 cities across 125 countries registered strike actions, with more expected to report turnouts in the coming days.

The “School Strike for Climate” movement was first started by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, who began her strike outside the country’s parliament in Stockholm in August 2018 and has said that she will continue to strike until Sweden is aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement. Since then, her singular action has spread into an international climate movement, organized by young people around the world. This strike followed the last co-ordinated event on March 15, which saw over 1.6 million people across 133 countries turn out at demonstrations according to organizers.

Thunberg was recently profiled on TIME’s global cover as a Next Generation Leader, along with nine other people shaping the world’s future. “This is not about truancy or civil disobedience, this is about the climate and the ecological crisis, and people need to understand that,” Thunberg told TIME in Stockholm, a couple of weeks ahead of the global strike.

“May 24 is the last chance to affect the E.U. elections. Politicians are talking about the climate and environmental issues more now, but they need more pressure,” she said. Voting across the European Union takes place May 23-26, where the 751 representatives of the European Parliament will be elected by citizens across the continent. Recent polling suggests environmental issues and policies tackling climate change are high on the agenda for voters considering who to elect. The school strike movement has emerged in tandem with other environmental movements worldwide. The British-based direct action group Extinction Rebellion occupied major locations in London for ten days in late April, and their first demand, for the British government to declare a state of “climate emergency,” received approval from parliament on May 1. And in the U.S., the young activists of Sunrise Movement have pushed to transform climate action into a political reality by calling for a Green New Deal, attracting the support of several legislators and 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.

While Thunberg is well-known worldwide, she says it is the strike organizers in each country that she looks up to. “Young people who are in developing countries are sacrificing their education in order to protest against the destruction of their future and world,” she told TIME. “They are the real heroes.” Photos and videos from strikers in the eastern hemisphere started flooding social media in the morning, ranging from Seoul, South Korea to Auckland, New Zealand, and later in the day images of crowds surfaced in European cities such as Berlin and Paris, where organizers say an estimated 23,000 turned out to demonstrate.

Here is a look at some of the places around the world where young people are taking action on May 24.

Thousands of students and young people took part in Friday’s strike marching through the streets of Stockholm. When TIME travelled with Thunberg from London to her hometown in April, she and other young organizers from the Fridays for Future movement were planning and preparing the actions for May 24.

“I’m just going to continue school striking every Friday until Sweden is aligned with the Paris Agreement,” Thunberg told TIME. “It will not take weeks, it will not take months: It will take years, most likely and unfortunately.”

While there’s an acknowledgement that the strikes have placed the climate crisis back on the agenda in Sweden, for Thunberg it is not enough — her focus is on the global carbon emissions, which continue to rise. However, in the nine months since she first started her strike, her cause has galvanized support from a wide cross section of Swedish society, with grandparents and scientists turning out to support the strike on May 24.


In Delhi, schoolchildren marched carrying a banner referring to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the leading international body for the assessment of climate change. In October 2018, the IPCC stated that the impact of a 1.5C increase in global temperatures over pre-industrial levels would “disproportionately affect disadvantaged and vulnerable populations through food insecurity, higher food prices, income losses, lost livelihood opportunities, adverse health impacts, and population displacements”.

For India, which is projected to be the world’s most populous country by 2024, growing inequality and extreme weather events such as heatwaves, floods and cyclones put its people particularly at risk

GOP Rep calls for Trump’s impeachment

A Michigan Republican and member of the House Freedom Caucus accused President Trump of “impeachable conduct” in a break with his party. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) tweeted Saturday that the president’s actions to potentially obstruct the now-shuttered special counsel investigation warrant impeachment by the House. He also accused Attorney General William Barr of “deliberately misrepresenting” Robert Mueller‘s report of the investigation’s findings.

“Here are my principal conclusions: 1. Attorney General Barr has deliberately misrepresented Mueller’s report. 2. President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct. 3. Partisanship has eroded our system of checks and balances. 4. Few members of Congress have read the report,” Amash wrote Saturday afternoon.

“Mueller’s report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment,” the Michigan Republican continued. “Mueller’s report identifies multiple examples of conduct satisfying all the elements of obstruction of justice, and undoubtedly any person who is not the president of the United States would be indicted based on such evidence.”

In other tweets, Amash accused Barr of “sleight-of-hand” to obscure the findings of Mueller’s report in his own summary released to Congress earlier this year. “In comparing Barr’s principal conclusions, congressional testimony, and other statements to Mueller’s report, it is clear that Barr intended to mislead the public about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s analysis and findings,” Amash wrote.

Amash has been a frequent critic of Trump. He has previously said he will not rule out running for the Libertarian Party nomination for president next year.

Amash also co-sponsored a resolution to block Trump’s emergency declaration earlier this year.

“Barr’s misrepresentations are significant but often subtle, frequently taking the form of sleight-of-hand qualifications or logical fallacies, which he hopes people will not notice.”

Publics in Emerging Economies Worry Social Media Sow Division, Even as They Offer New Chances for Political Engagement Many who use social media say they regularly see false and misleading content along with new ideas

In recent years, the internet and social media have been integral to political protests, social movements and election campaigns around the globe. Events from the Arab Spring to the worldwide spread of#MeToo have been aided by digital connectivity in both advanced and emerging economies. But popular social media and messaging platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp have drawn attention for their potential role in spreading misinformation, facilitating political manipulation by foreignand domestic actors, and increasing violenceand hate crimes.

Recently, the Sri Lankan government shut down several of the country’s social media and messaging services immediately after Easter day bombings at Catholic churches killed and wounded hundreds. Some technology enthusiasts praised the decision but wondered if this development marked a change from pro-democracy, Arab Spring-era hopes that digital technology would be a liberating tool to a new fear that it has become “a force that can corrode” societies.

In the context of these developments, a Pew Research Center survey of adults in 11 emerging economies finds these publics are worried about the risks associated with social media and other communications technologies – even as they cite their benefits in other respects. Succinctly put, the prevailing view in the surveyed countries is that mobile phones, the internet and social media have collectively amplified politics in both positive and negative directions – simultaneously making people more empowered politically andpotentially more exposed to harm.

When it comes to the benefits, adults in these countries see digital connectivity enhancing people’s access to political information and facilitating engagement with their domestic politics. Majorities in each country say access to the internet, mobile phones and social media has made people more informed about current events, and majorities in most countries believe social media have increased ordinary people’s ability to have a meaningful voice in the political process. Additionally, half or more in seven of these 11 countries say technology has made people more accepting of those who have different views than they do.

But these perceived benefits are frequently accompanied by concerns about the limitations of technology as a tool for political action or information seeking. Even as many say social media have increased the influence of ordinary people in the political process, majorities in eight of these 11 countries feel these platforms have simultaneously increased the risk that people might be manipulated by domestic politicians. Around half or more in eight countries also think these platforms increase the risk that foreign powers might interfere in their country’s elections.

Similarly, the widespread view that technology has made people more informed about current events is often paired with worries that these tools might make people vulnerable: Majorities in 10 of these countries feel technology has made it easier to manipulate people with rumors and false information. Further, a recent report by the Center found that a median of 64% across these 11 countries say people should be very concerned about exposure to false or incorrect information when using their phones.

What is a median?

Publics in these countries are also conflicted over the extent to which technology is broadening people’s personal horizons or causing their politics to become more tribal – and many seem to see elements of both. An 11-country median of 52% say technology has made people more accepting of those who have different views than they do, while a median of 58% say it has made people more divided in their political opinions. In most countries, larger shares say technology is causing people to be more divided than say it has caused them to be open to different groups of people.

The public’s opinion is easily manipulated through social media. Videos circulating about politicians can either make them famous and likable or break them down.WOMAN, 23, TUNISIA

Those most attuned to digital technology’s potential benefits are often also most aware of its downsides

It is not simply the case that certain segments of the public have consistently positive views about the political impacts of digital technology while others feel consistently more negative. In many instances, individuals who are most attuned to the potential benefits technology can bring to the political domain are also the ones most anxious about the possible harms.

For instance, in 10 of the 11 countries surveyed, the view that technology has made people more informed is correlated with the view that technology has made people easier to manipulate with rumors and false information. And in most countries, the view that technology has made people more accepting of each other is correlated with the view that it has made people more divided in their political opinions.

The social media landscape in the 11 countries surveyed

Certain groups – such as those with higher levels of education and those who are social media users – are especially likely to note both the positive and negative impacts of technology.12 Across all 11 countries, adults with a secondary education or higher are more likely to say technology has made people more informed about current events relative to those who do not have a secondary education. Yet, in nine countries, those with higher levels of education are also more inclined to say technology has made people more subject to false information and rumors. More highly educated adults are also more likely to say technology has contributed to both political divisions and tolerance of opposing viewpoints in seven of these countries (Colombia, India, Kenya, Lebanon, the Philippines, Tunisia and Vietnam).

Similarly, social media users in all 11 countries are more likely than non-users to say technology has made people more informed about current events. Users are also generally more likely to say technology has made people more accepting of those with different views, and more willing to engage in political debates. However, users are also more likely to say technology is making people more divided in their political opinions and easier to mislead with misinformation.

The public’s sense that technology brings both promise and problems is mirrored in social media users’ experiences on these platforms

These broad public views about the positive and negative impacts of technology on the political and information environment are echoed in social media users’ lived experiences on these platforms.

In some respects, social media users indicate that the nature of the content on these platforms is quite positive. In every country surveyed, for instance, majorities of social media users say they frequently or occasionally encounter content there that introduces them to new ideas. Similarly, pluralities of social media users in most countries say the news and information they get on these platforms is more up to date and more informative compared with other sources.

But as was true of views of the overall technology landscape, social media users see challenges as well as benefits. Most notably, majorities of social media users in 10 of these 11 countries frequently or occasionally encounter content that seems obviously false or untrue, and majorities of users in six countries regularly encounter content on these platforms that makes them feel negatively about groups of people who are different than they are.

Social media users also express mixed opinions about the characteristics of the social media environment relative to other information sources. Only in Vietnam do a plurality of users say these platforms are more reliable than other sources they encounter. In other countries, users are more divided about whether the information on social media is about as reliable – or less so – than what they see elsewhere. Opinion is also relatively mixed across the 11 countries as far as whether the news people get on these platforms is more hateful than what they get elsewhere.

We have to understand that there are scores of websites and articles on the internet that are false and inaccurate, purely opinion, or extremely biased or slanted.WOMAN, 22, PHILIPPINES

This range of experiences and attitudes is also reflected in at least some users’ personal interactions on social media platforms. An 11-country median of 36% of social media users – including around half in Kenya and Venezuela – say they have learned someone’s political beliefs were different than they had thought based on things that person posted to social media. In all 11 countries surveyed, those who have been surprised by someone’s political beliefs in this way are more likely to say technology has made people more divided in their political opinions. In seven countries, however, these users are also more likely to say access to technology has made people more accepting of those who have different views.

More people are comfortable talking politics in person than in digital spaces

Even as social media have offered citizens new ways to encounter and share information, more people are comfortable speaking about politics in person than via mobile phones or social media. These differences are especially pronounced in Lebanon: 78% of Lebanese overall say they are comfortable discussing political issues in person, but 48% of Lebanese mobile phone users are comfortable discussing these issues on their phones and just 39% of Lebanese social media users say they are comfortable broaching these issues on those platforms.

People who are comfortable discussing politics in digital spaces tend to be more optimistic about the impact these technologies have on politics in their country. For example, social media users who are comfortable discussing politics there are more likely to say the internet has had a good impact on politics and that social media have increased ordinary people’s ability to have a meaningful voice in politics. They also are usually more likely to describe the news they get on social media platforms positively – as more up to date, informative, reliable and focused on issues they care about – compared with other sources. And they are more likely to say they see articles on social media that introduce them to new ideas. But they are also somewhat more likely to say they regularly encounter articles or other content that makes them feel negatively about groups of people who are different from them.

Although publics in most countries are more comfortable discussing politics in person than via digital methods, people in certain countries are generally more comfortable discussing politics – whether in person, using their mobile phone or over social media – than people in other countries. The Philippines, Vietnam, Kenya and India are countries where majorities are comfortable discussing politics in person, and majorities of users are comfortable talking politics on a mobile phone or via social media. However, people’s comfort levels have little relationship with overall measures of civil liberties in their country or measures of how democratic the country is (or is not). And countries with higher levels of interpersonal trust are not more likely to be comfortable discussing politics in any of these venues.3

You know, there’s a politician that sends text messages to us saying ‘Happy birthday, from Senator this-and-that.’ Even with that, they have already got your number. What more [do they have] if you’re already on social media?MAN, 44, PHILIPPINES

These are among the major findings from a new Pew Research Center survey conducted among 28,122 adults in 11 countries from Sept. 7 to Dec. 7, 2018. In addition to the survey, the Center conducted focus groups with diverse groups of participants in Kenya, Mexico, the Philippines and Tunisia in March 2018, and their comments are included throughout the report

Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone, Sara Ali Khan Win Instagrammers of the Year Awards

Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone and Sara Ali Khan have won Instagrammers of the Year awards, which recognize most engaging community members on the social media platform across the nation.
Winners are selected on the basis of how these individuals use their Instagram handles with the help of Stickers, Stories, Feed, Live and IGTV.
Winning the title of ‘Most Followed Account’ this year is Priyanka Chopra Jonas with 39 million followers, while Deepika Padukone received the ‘Storyteller of the Year’ award, thanks to her impromptu Instagram stories and boomerangs from events, and Ask Me sessions to interact with fans and more.
“I come to Instagram every day to live, laugh, love and share with the people that are most important to me and I am grateful for all their kindness,” Padukone said in a statement. “In 2019, I look forward to connect more, love more and share many more authentic experiences with my beautiful fans.”
Sara Ali Khan Sara who bagged the ‘Rising Star of The Year’ award shared her excitement about the same in a statement. She told a news agency, “Instagram is a platform that allows me to be myself and to stay connected with audiences in the most direct and organic way. Not to mention it also allows me to salivate over great food, look at interesting and new places to travel to and of course stalk people.”
Others who were awarded include cricketer Virat Kohli whose Kohli’s Instagram handle was applauded as “The most Engaged Account of the Year,” Chef Pooja Dhingra (Food Account of the Year), comedian and singer Bhuvan Bam (Entertainment Account of the Year) and Sejal Kumar (Fashion Account of the Year).

Facebook joins GAME to train entrepreneurs in India

Facebook and the Global Alliance for Mass Entrepreneurship (GAME) — a consortium of public and private organizations — on Tuesday announced a partnership to train entrepreneurs and create jobs across India.

Phase one of this partnership, to be rolled out this year, will cover 10 states including Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Jammu and Kashmir and Maharashtra, among others.

The partnership is in line with Facebook’s commitment to train five million people with digital and entrepreneurial skills by 2021, the social networking platform said in a statement. Women currently constitute 23 per cent of Internet users and six per cent of mass entrepreneurs in India.

“When you give women and youth the skills and technology to improve their lives, we can equip them to unlock economic and social value for themselves and their communities,” said Ankhi Das, Public Policy Director, Facebook – India, South and Central Asia.

GAME and its partners will assist small entrepreneurs build their businesses using digital platforms like Facebook and Instagram to aggregate demand, market products and acquire customers.

“Imagine the power of a platform that can bring together communities of artisan clusters, agri-entrepreneurs or homepreneurs in the thousands to learn, collaborate and succeed,” added Ravi Venkatesan, Founder, GAME.

GAME and Facebook will kick-off their engagement with a project empowering local communities of rural entrepreneurs — using digital and physical modes, a landscape review and identification of solutions for women entrepreneurs and a grand prize challenge for innovative models that spur new business creation.

With its ongoing programmes, Facebook has already trained over one million people across 150 cities and 48,000 villages with support from 50 partners.

Share of U.S. adults using social media, including Facebook, is mostly unchanged since 2018

The share of U.S. adults who say they use certain online platforms or apps is statistically unchanged from where it stood in early 2018 despite a long stretch of controversies over privacy, fake news and censorship on social media, according to a new Pew Research Center survey conducted Jan. 8 to Feb. 7, 2019.

More broadly, the steady growth in adoption that social platforms have experienced in the United States over the past decade also appears to be slowing. The shares of adults who say they use Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Twitter are each largely the same as in 2016, with only Instagram showing an uptick in use during this time period. (There are no comparable 2016 phone survey data for YouTube, Snapchat, WhatsApp or Reddit.)

Facebook – which recently celebrated its 15th anniversary – remains one of the most widely used social media sites among adults in the U.S. Roughly seven-in-ten adults (69%) say they ever use the platform. (A separate 2018 Center survey showed Facebook use among U.S. teens had dropped in recent years.) YouTube is the only other online platform measured that matches Facebook’s reach: 73% of adults report using the video sharing site. But certain online platforms, most notably Instagram and Snapchat, have an especially strong following among young adults.

Instagram, Snapchat remain especially popular among those ages 18 to 24

As was true in previous surveys of social media use by the Center, there are substantial age-related differences in platform use. This is especially true of Instagram and Snapchat, which are used by 67% and 62% of 18- to 29-year-olds, respectively.

Particularly for these two platforms, there are also pronounced differences in use within the young adult population. Those ages 18 to 24 are substantially more likely than those ages 25 to 29 to say they use Snapchat (73% vs. 47%) and Instagram (75% vs. 57%).

By comparison, age differences are less pronounced for Facebook. Facebook use is relatively common across a range of age groups, with 68% of those ages 50 to 64 and nearly half of those 65 and older saying they use the site.

Other demographic patterns related to social media and messaging app use are relatively unchanged from last year. Women are nearly three times as likely as men to use Pinterest (42% vs. 15%). Around half of college graduates and those who live in high-income households use LinkedIn, compared with 10% or fewer of those who have not attended at least some college or those in lower-income households. And WhatsApp continues to be popular among Hispanics: 42% use the messaging app, compared with 24% of blacks and 13% of whites. (For more details on social media and messaging app use by different demographic groups, see the bottom of the post.)

G. Nagesh Rao Receives ‘Gears Of Government’ Awards From White House

The White House Office of Management and Budget and General Services Administration announced that G. Nagesh Rao was named a recipient of the Gears of Government Awards.

Rao, the director of Business Technology Solutions at the U.S. Small Business Administration and a 2016 USA Eisenhower Fellow, received the award for his work and accomplishments at the SBA.

The Indian American technologist received the award in two categories, including the Council Award for SBA’s IT Modernization Efforts; and the Agency Award for his prior leadership and work on the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition and SBIR/STTR Programs, in particular around the digital platform, according to a news release.

The Gears of Government Awards mission is to recognize individuals and teams across the federal workforce whose dedication supports exceptional delivery of key outcomes for the American people, specifically around mission results, customer service, and accountable stewardship.

Nagesh was featured in a story by the White House as part of their announcement of the winners on Feb. 26. According to the announcement, Rao uses advancements in science, technology, innovation and economic empowerment to help businesses work better, faster and cheaper.

It said he “revolutionized the SBA’s approach to supporting entrepreneurs in innovation, startup and technology fields.”

The “proud geek” and his cutting-edge approaches have helped small businesses more easily access $2.5 billion each year in research and development funding, it said. Facebook, WhatsApp become fake news factories in India

Facebook first came under the scanner of policymakers around the world after allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential elections surfaced.

Barely a week away from when the world’s largest democracy goes to polls, the fake news factories on Facebook and its owned WhatsApp have become active like never before as the social media giant scramble for solutions which are few and far between.

The game on Facebook is different from other social media platforms as Pages, Groups and accounts have been renamed to push the election agenda as per the demand coming from the political quarters.

According to social media experts, renaming the Facebook Pages or Groups to promote political campaigns and influence voters have become common and the Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven algorithms are not sufficient to handle such a huge volume in a country where Facebook has over 30 crore users and WhatsApp another 30 crore monthly.

“There are over 200 Facebook Groups and Pages with more than one lakh followers which are currently influencing the group members and followers with biased political content,” leading social media expert Anoop Mishra told IANS.

There are fake profile Pages created by fans of journalists like Ravish Kumar (“I Support Ravish Kumar” with over 18 lakh followers) and Punya Prasun Bajpai (“Prasoon Vajpaaye Fans” with over 10 lakh followers) being used to push a political agenda.

There are several such examples where people who joined Facebook renamed their Pages, Groups and accounts later, only to use it for spreading their political agenda.

Despite Facebook’s efforts, such misinformation is thriving and is only going to reach mammoth levels as the first phase of voting begins from April 11.

“For the social media players, India is a huge market and they want to grow… On the other hand, they have consistently failed to stop the spread of fake news and propaganda on their platforms,” Pavan Duggal, the nation’s leading cyber law expert, told IANS.

The pressure on social media platforms is enormous with the Indian government now formulating new IT guidelines where they have to remove within 24 hours any unlawful content that can affect the “sovereignty and integrity of India”.

Facebook-owned WhatsApp is another fake news factory where more than 87,000 groups are targeting millions with political messaging.

“From fake statistics related to various government policies to news promoting regional violence, manipulated political news, government scams, historical myths, propaganda to patriotism and Hindu nationalism — WhatsApp has it all in the election season,” Mishra had said earlier.

The failure to stem fake news is evident from the recent statements from CEO mark Zuckerberg. In an interview with RTE News on Tuesday, he said Facebook cannot yet guarantee that it can stop foreign actors that are trying to interfere in the upcoming European Parliament elections in May.

Facebook first came under the scanner of policymakers around the world after allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential elections surfaced.

In India, Facebook has hit on several fake Pages and accounts linked to Congress as well as the BJP but the task at hand is humongous.

On the social media platform, “some of the Pages and Groups with massive followings are directly in touch with the IT cells of the political parties”, claimed Mishra. The purpose, he added, is to connect and influence the voters with their half-baked and misleading content.

–          IANS

Working too many hours a week is basically pointless

Working this many hours a week is basically pointless. Here’s how to get more done—by doing less

When it comes to your workday, less is more…but that can be a challenge for many. It’s easy to feel bombarded as you begin your day with incoming emails, meeting notifications and Slack messages that demand your attention.

The constant chase can make even the most seasoned executives feel overwhelmed. In fact, the problem with today’s work culture is that many people believe they need to work longer hours in order to get more done and succeed.

One study from Stanford University, however, debunks that belief. In his research, economics professor John Pencavel found that productivity per hour decline sharply when a person works more than 50 hours a week. After 55 hours, productivity drops so much that putting in any more hours would be pointless. And, those who work up to 70 hours a week are only getting the same amount of work done as those who put in the 55 hours.

“Busyness is not a means to accomplishment, but an obstacle to it,” writes Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, a Stanford scholar and author of “Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less.”

He argues in his book that when we define ourselves by our “work, dedication, effectiveness and willingness to go the extra mile,” it’s easy to think that doing less and creating more peace in our minds are barriers to success.

There are a handful of ways you can get more done by doing less, but it starts with where you decide to focus your mental energy. The goal is to stay present and detach yourself from the insignificant tasks and issues at hand.

One effective way to do this is to adopt a spiritual law of success called the Law of Least Effort. This law is based on the idea that nature’s intelligence functions with effortless ease of action and without resistance.

Here’s how to incorporate the Law of Least Effort into your life:

  1. Accept your current situation

Think about your current circumstances and tell yourself, “I understand and accept how things are. This moment is exactly how the universe is right now.” These words stop you from reacting to the events around you and instead encourages you to simply acknowledge they them.

You might even say, “I accept my situation, not as I want it to be.” You’ll go from thinking about all the things that aren’t going your way to focusing on all the positive possibilities of the present moment.

  1. Take accountability for your current situation

There’s no need to fight and push against the little things. Practicing the art of surrendering yourself has many benefits. If you’re late to a meeting or your manager is taking out his bad day on your, don’t point your finger at other people. Say to yourself, “I am accountable for what happens in my life.” Then, move on.

When you shift the attention back to yourself, you’ll realize that only you can control your mood, disposition and destiny. Don’t let someone else’s bad day ruin your day, too. When you see yourself as the change agent, problems will start to feel like opportunities. And as you encounter difficult situations, ask yourself “What can I do to fix it?”

  1. Detach yourself from ‘who gets the credit’

Most office jobs involve a degree of politics, but it’s important to focus on the message, not the messenger. Try not to get too caught up in ego-driven conversations or competing for who gets the most praise. When an idea comes up, focus on the quality of that idea, instead of who proposed it. And when you suggest an idea, don’t worry if it doesn’t get adopted. Take a breath and try to detach yourself from the results.

You don’t have to chase every little thing that appears in front of you, but you can focus on the items that truly matter and give meaning. What’s more, your actions will speak volumes, and you may earn the reputation of being selfless, which will enhance your standing among your peers.

To further master the Law of Least Least Effort, listen to our new album “Musical Meditations on the Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, ” in which Deepak guides you through how to reframe your mind in accordance with this law. You’ll quickly understand the three-part method of acceptance, accountability and detachment.

Deepak Chopra is the co-author of  “The Healing Self, ” founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of Jiyo and The Chopra Center for Wellbeing.

Kabir Sehgal is a New York Times best-selling author. He is a former vice president at JPMorgan Chase, multi-Grammy Award winner and U.S. Navy veteran. Chopra and Sehgal are the co-creators of Home: Where Everyone Is Welcome, inspired by American immigrants.

Mainstream media must boycott Trump

“I Have A Running War With The Media.” During a visit to CIA headquarters, President Donald Trump said he has “a running war with the media” and called reporters “among the most dishonest human beings on earth.”

President Donald Trump and his administration are engaged in an unprecedented war on the press, which began during his presidential campaign and continued into the transition period. Trump and his administration’s continued attacks on the press pose a distinct threat to our First Amendment freedoms, and we as journalists, who are the guardians of people’s freedom, are concerned about Trump’s rhetoric and its consequences on the freedom of the press and the safety of the lives of the media personnel at all.

The New York Times noted that Trump “unleash[ed] a remarkably bitter attack on the news media, falsely accusing journalists of both inventing a rift between him and intelligence agencies and deliberately understating the size of his inauguration crowd.” Trump accused the media of lying and claimed, “I think they’re going to pay a big price.”

The then Press Secretary Sean Spicer falsely claimed that the Media “Engaged In Deliberately False Reporting” on inauguration crowd size. In his first official statement from the White House press briefing room on January 21, 2017, White House press secretary Sean Spicer claimed that “some members of the media were engaged in deliberately false reporting.” He also falsely claimed that media reported “inaccurate numbers involving crowd size” at the inauguration and falsely claimed, “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period.” Spicer added, “We’re going to hold the press accountable.”

The war with the media started the day Donald Trump was inaugurated as the President of the great nation, the United States. When inaccurate stories from the right wing media about accuracies around Trump’s claim that he would won the popular vote by millions if only the “illegal immigrants” were stopped from voting, Trump falsely claimed that the author of a Pew report on voter registration inaccuracies provided evidence of voter fraud. When Pew fact-checked the president, saying that the Pew Research said “they found no evidence of voter fraud,” Trump claimed the Pew author was “groveling again” and added “I always talk about the reporters that grovel when they write something that you want to hear but not necessarily millions of people want to hear, or have to hear.”

The New York Times reported that Stephen Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, attacked the entire mainstream media as “the opposition party” in an interview. Bannon lambasted the media’s “humiliating defeat” in incorrectly predicting Trump would lose the election and demanded that media should “keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while.”

On Fox & Friends, Kelly Conway, a chief media strategist at the Trump White House, suggested that “it’s dangerous to the democracy and for those around the world watching what we do and how this president is covered in his early days” for the press to call out Trump’s lies. Conway was suggesting that the American media close their eyes and ears to the lies of Trump day and in day out.

That poses me to the nest question. How many lies has Trump said since his inauguration? The Washington Post wrote recently;  “Two years after taking the oath of office, President Trump has made 8,158 false or misleading claims, according to The Fact Checker’s database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement uttered by the president. That includes an astonishing 6,000-plus such claims in the president’s second year. Put another way: The president averaged nearly 5.9 false or misleading claims a day in his first year in office. But he hit nearly 16.5 a day in his second year, almost triple the pace.”

The leading daily reported that in the first 100 days, the president made 492 unsupported claims. He managed to top that number just in the first three weeks of 2019. In October, as he was barnstorming the country in advance of the midterm elections, he made more than 1,200 false or misleading claims.

That brings us to our next question: How many times Trump has called the media and their reporting as “fake news?” President Donald Trump often dismisses news stories or media outlets that he doesn’t like as “fake news.” How often? A database of his public remarks contains 320 references in his first year in office to “fake news.” There are times, when he has labeled accurate news reporting as “fake news” or spread false information himself, while at the same time accusing the media of being “fake” or “dishonest.”

Recently, Trump even took credit for inventing the term. “Look, the media is fake,” Trump said in an interview with conservative pundit and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. “The media is — really, the word, I think one of the greatest of all terms I’ve come up with — is fake. I guess other people have used it perhaps over the years, but I’ve never noticed it.”

On his first full day in office, Trump visited the CIA and said of journalists: “They are among the most dishonest human beings on Earth. And they sort of made it sound like I had a feud with the intelligence community. And I just want to let you know, the reason you’re the number-one stop is exactly the opposite — exactly.”

Since the beginning of 2017, President Trump has invoked the phrase “fake news” hundreds of separate occasions. Virtually every instance has been in response to critical news coverage of himself.

Trump has used it when he felt he wasn’t getting enough credit for positive actions, such as helping Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria. “We have done a great job with the almost impossible situation in Puerto Rico. Outside of the Fake News or politically motivated ingrates,” he said on Twitter.

He’s used the term after news channels simply reported what he said, such as his comments about white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va. “The only people giving a platform to these hate groups is the media itself, and the fake news,” Trump said at a campaign-style rally in Phoenix.

And he’s used the term repeated when news organizations have covered basic facts about the government’s own investigations into Russia’s influence on the 2016 election. “It is the same Fake News Media that said there is ‘no path to victory for Trump’ that is now pushing the phony Russia story. A total scam!” Trump said on Twitter.

Most often, PolitiFact found, his targets have been CNN, and NBC (19 mentions), followed by the New York Times and the Washington Post . It has been found that only one news outlet that had been singled out for praise during his discussions of fake news: Fox News.

Trump is particularly quick to label coverage “fake news” when the reports have unnamed sources, and unnamed sources seem to make Trump the most irate.

In tweet on August 5th, 2018, Trum wrote: “The Fake News hates me saying that they are the Enemy of the People only because they know it’s TRUE. I am providing a great service by explaining this to the American People. They purposely cause great division & distrust. They can also cause War! They are very dangerous & sick!”

There have been calls for the media to boycott Trump. When a sitting President does not want to trust the media, calling it fake, just because the media is reporting accurately and showing to the world his blatant lies, why should a responsible media report on someone, who calls truth as “fake.”

In recent calls for boycott of Trump have been intensifying. Critiques of such calls can’t imagine being able to do their jobs without sitting in a White House Press Room and watching Sarah Huckabee Sanders act put out that people don’t like being lied to for an hour. “The White House is a lousy source of information about itself, but it is also the best available source,” New Yorker writer Masha Gessen argued. “It would mean walking away from politics altogether, which, for journalists, would be an abdication of responsibility.”

Reporters could stage a group protest. But that would make them look like they’re at war with the president, just as he always says they are. Or they could do nothing and effectively “submit to his authority to determine who gets to hold him accountable,” as the former Republican presidential strategist Steve Schmidt put it.

However, the fact remains, the White House press briefings exist not to share any valuable  information, but to share disinformation. Sanders rarely tells the truth, and when she does, it’s either accidental or mundane information with no real news value. Trump himself lies even more, and often just for the hell of it — perhaps to make the point that he can lie about obvious things and still not lose power.

Anita Dunn, a Democratic strategist and former White House adviser to Mr. Obama, saya: “That puts them in the middle of the story. The more they personalize this, the more it becomes a fight between the press and the president, as opposed to the press doing its job,” she added. “When they are covering the story, as opposed to being the story, they’re on firmer ground.”

It’s time to boycott a President who is anti- truth, anti-press, anti-civility, ant-diversity, anti-inclusiveness, anti-immigration, anti-scientific research; anti-ecology; anti-justice sytem…..The hateful rhetoric spewed forth from Donald Trump gets too much free airtime by the mainstream media. That needs to stop. He must be starved of free publicity and his rhetoric and false claims need to be ignored by the mainstream media and the general public.

The Roar of a Woman’s Silence

By Miss Anushree Bernard, Program Coordinator of Vanishing Girls Campaign of ADF India

The United Nations declared the 8th of March in 1975 as the International Women’s Day to celebrate the social, cultural, political and economic achievements of women across the world. This day gained prominence over the years and it grew from strength to strength as it gave a spectacle to all nations of the world about the rights and equality of women.

However, as we celebrate the International Women’s Day 2019, some very fundamental questions cross my mind primarily being that have we been able to achieve equality for women especially in India after all these years or are we echoing a utopian idea of equality for all women without acknowledging the ground realities that are being faced by thousands of them even today. Equality beings at birth, yet as a country we rank with one of the worst sex ratios at birth in the world. Millions of girls are aborted in the womb as their birth is not welcomed in most Indian families resulting in the loss of 12 million girls in the last three decades in India. The practise of sex selective abortions carries on rampantly in various parts of the country with an average of 7000 girls getting aborted every day that continues to remain unnoticed despite being prohibited by the law. This practise has serious implications which will eventually lead to the extermination of the female gender in the longer run, as we have already lost 63 million women in the last one decade due to several factors such as inadequate nutrition, neglect, poor healthcare and sex selective abortions. However, this discrimination is does not end inside the womb, but also after the girl is born.

In a recent incident that I witnessed in Rajasthan, a one-day old baby girl was abandoned and left to die near a garbage dump on a cold winter night around 25 kilometres away from Jhunjhunu, later rescued and taken immediately to the government hospital for immediate medical attention. While speaking to the staff at the government hospital, they informed us that out of the 12 new born children that they have received in the past few months, 11 out of them were all girls, which shows the daughter aversion that the people of the district carry. Today, there are 21 million unwanted girls in the country who struggle to seek acceptance and love from their families.

Dowry during marriage is seen to be one of the most compelling factors which has resulted in such hatred towards girls. The burden of the parents to pay a huge amount of dowry in the form of cash or gifts creates immense pressure on many Indian families to abort the girl child before itself. However, even after getting married, many women are subjected to gross violence and torture in their marital homes for bringing inadequate or no dowry at all during the wedding. This torture has resulted in 21

dowry deaths every day in India and according to the National Crime Records Bureau, as many as 7,635 women died in the year 2015 due to dowry harassment.

The violence against women has been shrouded in silence until 2018 which created a revolution of sorts with the rise of the ME TOO movement as it gave a voice to thousands of women to speak out about sexual harassment that they faced within their workplace and otherwise as well. Women emerged stronger than before for one pivotal reason that they were being heard.

Today as we celebrate the International Women’s day, we must begin from the first step towards bringing equality for all women which is by hearing their voices out. We must ask ourselves some coherent questions such as do we see and treat women and girls as equal not only within our homes but also at workplaces and in the society. Or do we blindly celebrate this day without understanding the basic essence of gender equality. Nelson Mandela said that “Freedom cannot be achieved unless the women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression”. Giving equality to the female gender, begins from giving them their right to be born, as all parents must make their daughters so capable that they wouldn’t have to worry about her marriage. Instead of saving money for her wedding day, spend it well on her education and most importantly instead of preparing her for her marriage right from her childhood, prepare her for being herself unapologetically so that she may grow up to be a strong independent courageous woman with wings that will give her the freedom to pursue her dreams.

‘Sudani from Nigeria’ bags five awards at Kerala State Film Awards

‘Sudani from Nigeria’ bagged five awards at the 49th Kerala State Film Awards 2018.  The film directed by new-comer Zakariya Muhammed bagged the prizes for the best popular film, best debut director, best actor (Soubin Shahir), best screenplay (Zakariya Muhammed and Muhsin Parari) and best character role for female (shared by Savithri Sreedharan and Sarasa Balussery).  The best actor award was shared by Soubin Shahir and Jayasurya (‘Captain’ and ‘Njan Marykkutty’).  ‘Kanthan – the Lover of Colour’ directed by C Shareef was selected as the best film.  The awards were decided by the 10-member jury headed by Kumar Sahni.

The film released in March 2018 has bagged several awards earlier too, including the FIPRESCI (International Federation of Film Critics) Award for the best Malayalam film at the International Film Festival of Kerala 2018.  Director Zakariya Muhammed got the prestigious Mohan Raghavan Award 2017-18 for the best debut director and the award for the best director at the first Fez International Film Festival held in Morocco in February 2019.  The film won five awards at the Cinema Paradiso Club Awards 2019 for the movie, script, cinematography (Shyju Khalid), editing (Noufal Abdullah) and best actress in a character role (Savithri Sreedharan).  The film was screened at the Indian Panorama section at the 49th International Film Festival of India held in Goa and at the Cinema of the World Section at the 17th Dhaka International Film Festival.  Shyju Khalid and Sameer Thahir produced the film while music was composed by Rex Vijayan and Shahabaz Aman.

Malappuram has not been painted well in the Malayalam film arena so far.  Malappuram which is a Muslim-majority district was always referred to as ‘Malappuram kathi (dagger)’, ‘bomb’, a place where women are oppressed etc. in the mainstream cinema.

But ‘Sudani from Nigeria’ released in 2018 has changed the negative definition of Malappuram and Muslims in Malayalam cinema.  The film tells the story of a local football team manager and his player from Nigeria.  The film received critical applause as well as good box office performance.

The hero of the film is Majeed, a Sevens football (played by seven members in a team, common in Malabar with its own tournaments) team manager played by actor-director Soubin Shahir.  He has a few African players (commonly called as Sudanis) in his team and one of the players – Samuel Abiola Robinson from Nigeria- has to take rest for a month after an accident.  And he is taken to the house of Majeed, the team Manager, who is already struggling to make both ends meet.

Majeed’s mother and a neighbour take care of the foreign player despite not knowing each other’s language.  The story revolves around the problems and situations they face  like Majeed’s step-father who rarely visits the family because he knows Majeed doesn’t like him; Samuel (fondly called ‘Sudu’ short for Sudani) whose family lives in a UN refugee camp in Ghana after fleeing the civil war in Nigeria;  the educated girl who refuses to marry Majeed who is not that learned; the care that each character gives to the ailing Samuel; the police interrogation when they come to know via a newspaper article about the foreigner living in the village etc.

One most heart-touching scene is the way the two women (Majeed’s mother and the neighbour) react to the news of the death of Samuel’s grandmother – they say ‘Inna lillah’(the Muslim way of invoking Allah during a calamity), arrange a prayer session with the clerics recite the Qur’an and visit the mosque at Mampuram to pray for the deceased.

Another is the neighbor Beeyumma waiting for her son to come back home, which is drawn from real life where a mother of the same name (at Parappanangadi) is awaiting the release of her son Zakariya who is an under-trail for his alleged involvement in the 2008 Bengaluru blast case from prison. The film truly portrays the real Malabar – be it the love and care, passion for football, involvement in social affairs etc.

Screen time for children: Good, bad, or it depends?

This is not the first time when technological advances have created a virtual riot in homes, schools, and offices. When telephones were first introduced in the late 1800s, debates ensued about whether they would interfere with office comradery and whether clients would find a call more off-putting than a face-to-face conversation. Television caused a similar stir as scientists and families debated whether the old-fashioned definition of screen time would create a generation of couch potatoes who could no longer think or communicate. So, the current spat over a more modern “screen time” that includes television, smartphones, tablets, and the varied media developed on these platforms is really nothing new. Yet, the debate rages on: Is screen time in its modern guise bad or good for children—and for us?

The past few weeks have seen a flurry of new pieces speaking to the hazards or benefits of screen time. In January, Jordan Shapiro released his new book, “The New Childhood: Raising Kids to Thrive in a Connected World.” In this beautifully written text, Shapiro argues that screen time is here to stay and that children must merely learn how to navigate it well so that they do not overdose or view content that is not healthy for development. Again—not new. Similar discussions were popular as televisions became an indispensable feature of home life. The science, however, reassured us. If time on the tube could be monitored and we could ensure that our young children were not watching gunfire and gang fights, some kids could even benefit from educational TV. In short, the results suggested that “Sesame Street” and “Blues Clues” were great, and the nightly news should be avoided. However, the picture that emerged was more nuanced than “Is television bad or good?” and the answer to the question became “It depends.”

The crop of papers that appeared in the past few weeks suggest this more nuanced approach for digital screen time. On the one hand, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health in London noted that children between the ages of 11-24 were spending approximately 2.5 hours on the computer, 3 hours on their phone, and 2 hours on the television per day. Did that amount of viewing hurt them in some obvious and measurable way? Looking at 940 research abstracts, the Royal College did find associations—though not causal links—between screen time and a less healthy diet, less energy, and higher obesity rates. There were also data linking screen time to poorer mental health. Yet, in the last week, a report also suggested that even these associations are weak at best, with new data touting that teen engagement with social media (screen viewing) is not associated with depression.

The inconclusive results and contradictory findings led the Royal College to conclude that a causal chain between screen watching and bad outcomes could not be established. It thus recommended that we find balance between screen and non-screen time—a balance that is dependent on the nature of the child (temperament), the child’s age, and the content in question.

This advice is consistent with Shapiro’s take. In the past few weeks, however, we have also seen several new studies that continue to raise a red flag. In one, we learn that increased face-to-face interactions emerge when we put Facebook use on hold for a year. In another, we learn that when we carry our phones in our pockets, have them on a desk in front of us, or have them more distant from us—in another room—we get different results on cognitive tasks. As you might guess, we do better when our phones are in another room. And at the end of January, we were told by author Sheri Madigan and her colleagues in the pediatric journal JAMA that screen time at 24 months of age relates to lower outcomes at 36 months and that screen time at 36 months relates to lower performance on a developmental screening task when the same children were 60 months of age. This latter study suffered from a few limitations that the authors themselves own: They lumped all screen time—computer, gaming systems, television—together and the effects they report, while significant, were not strong. Nonetheless, the results were suggestive: More screen time does likely reduce other activities children need to participate in to learn and grow.

What are educators and parents to do with this flurry of messages? Perhaps it is time for that more nuanced approach. Screens—be they television or computers—can transport us to places we have only imagined. They can present narratives that enrich our understanding of the world. At the same time, they can eat up precious time and draw our attention away from important human-to-human contact.

To date, the science cannot definitively say that there is a threshold for screen time use after which it is harmful for children. What the science can tell us, however, is that face-to-face interactions are critically important for development and that sometimes the digital technology gets in the way. When adults model poor screen manners by picking up a phone call in the middle of a conversation and fail to teach children how to wisely choose among social media options, then they do so at their own risk. It is our job as adults to help children wisely choose which programs to watch and for how long. Shapiro suggests that when we do this, we will need less surveillance of our children and their digital habits. We can become more like mentors, guiding children to make smart choices until they are old enough to do so—all while protecting their time to engage in crucial human relationships and generate their own imaginative worlds.

From Fake News to Enemy of the People: An Anatomy of Trump’s Tweets

NEW YORK, Jan 31 2019 (IPS) – Since announcing his candidacy in the 2016 presidential elections to the end of his second year in office, U.S. President Donald Trump has sent 1,339 tweets about the media that were critical, insinuating, condemning, or threatening.

In lieu of formal appearances as president, Trump has tweeted over 5,400 times to his more than 55.8 million followers; over 11 percent of these insulted or criticized journalists and outlets, or condemned and denigrated the news media as a whole.

To better monitor this negative rhetoric, CPJ’s North America program created a database to track tweets in which Trump mentioned the mediaindividual journalistsnews outlets, or journalistic sources in a negative tone.

The president’s tweets can have an impact and consequences for the press both at home and abroad. His rhetoric has given cover to autocratic regimes: world leaders from Cambodia to the Philippines have echoed terms like “fake news” in the midst of crackdowns on press freedom.

And the rhetoric has sometimes resulted in harassment of individual journalists in the U.S., where CPJ is aware of several journalists who say they were harassed or threatened online after being singled out on Twitter by Trump.

CPJ’s database of tweets can be viewed here and our methodology can be found here. CPJ found that the focus of the tweets has shifted dramatically. During the campaign, Trump frequently called out specific journalists by name or Twitter handle, accounting for over a third of his negative tweets about the press during that period.

This trend declined in the months leading up to the election and, since taking office, his focus shifted instead to the media as a whole, accounting for 63 percent of his tweets about the press in the first two years of his presidency, compared with 23 percent as a candidate.

The overall number and rate of Trump’s tweeting has also decreased since he took office. However, those targeted at the press constitute a larger percentage of his total tweets during his presidency.

Nine percent of all original tweets during his candidacy contained negative rhetoric about the press, compared with 11 percent in his first two years in office.

His rhetoric–increasingly targeting swaths of the press–appears to be escalating, first from the introduction of “fake news” to “opposition party” and his use of “enemy of the people.”

The term “fake news” did not appear in Trump’s tweets until after he was elected. It was used for the first time in December 2016. It came into more frequent use in January 2017, in reference first to leaked reports on Russian hacking and then to reports on his inauguration and approval ratings.

Overall, in each of the first two years in office the term was used in over half his negative tweets about the press. Trump’s use of the term “enemy of the people” was first used on February 17, 2017, one day after the Trump campaign team distributed a survey urging supporters to “do your part to fight back against the media’s attacks and deceptions.”

Trump uses his tweets to respond and react to critical coverage or investigative reporting. The months where tweets critical of the press accounted for the highest percentage of all original tweets posted were:

  • January 2017 (15 percent): In response to reports on the Intelligence Community Assessment’s confirmation of Russian hacking.
    • February 2017 (19 percent): In response to reports about his election win, emerging news about Russian hacking, and leakers.
    • March 2017 (17 percent): In response to reports about infighting within the Trump administration, the leak of part of his tax returns, and Russian hacking.
    • October 2017 (15 percent): In response to reports on hurricane relief in Puerto Rico, Rex Tillerson allegedly threatening to resign, and a perceived lack of positive economic coverage.
    • December 2017 (16 percent): In response to focusing on reporting on collusion with Russia, the Republican tax reform, and reviews of Trump’s first year in office).

Trump insulted individual journalists via Twitter 280 times as a candidate. CPJ has documented cases of several journalists who said after being targeted by him on Twitter they were harassed or doxxed.

During the first two years of his presidency, Trump has cited specific journalists 48 times. Notable exceptions to this sharp decline took place in January and September 2018, when Trump tweeted about Michael Wolff and Bob Woodward when their books on the president and his administration were released.

The database showed that the outlets targeted the most–either directly or through tweets about their journalists–were the New York Times and CNN, with Fox News coming in third. During the Republican primaries, Fox was a frequent target, cited in 148 tweets.

Of these, Fox broadcaster Megyn Kelly was the primary target in nearly half, cited in 64 tweets, after the first Republican presidential debate in 2016, where she questioned Trump about the derogatory language he uses against women.

In the weeks following the debate, Trump tweeted negative comments about Kelly, including insulting her both personally and professionally. Trump also targeted other conservative-leaning outlets during this period, including The BlazeThe Weekly StandardRedState, and the National Review.

Trump has also used Twitter to accuse the press of falsifying anonymous sources. Trump tweeted about “phony,” “nonexistent,” or “made up” sources on five occasions during his candidacy, all of which were posted in the three months between winning the Republican primary and the election.

This number doubled to 11 instances in his first year in office and then again to 27 in his second year as his administration was plagued with leaks and the investigation being led by Robert Mueller.

In the wake of the Annapolis shooting in June, CPJ, press freedom advocates, and media outlets called on Trump to moderate his rhetoric. However, five days after the shooting Trump called the “Fake News” the “Opposition party,” and 17 days after, he tweeted that “much of our news media is indeed the enemy of the people.”

The moniker “enemy of the people” appeared in only four tweets during his first year in office. In his second year, the number was 21, nearly all after Annapolis.

James Koodal to lead Houston Chapter of IAPC

A new leadership team for IAPC Houston Chapter was elected in the meeting last week presided over by Indo American Press Club founder Chairman Ginsmon Zacharia; held at Stanford, Houston, TX.

James Koodal was elected Chapter President, while Suresh Ramakrishnan is the new Vice-President, Andrew Jacob is the General Secretary, Reny Kavalayil is the Joint Secretary, and, Simon Valacherry is the Treasurer for the calendar year 2019.

Easo Jacob will serve as the Chapter Advisory Board Chair and Dr. Chandra Mittal, Joseph Ponnoli, Joji Joseph, and C. G. Daniel are others elected as Chapter Advisoy Board Members.

James Koodal is one of the prominent socio-cultural media fraternity entrepreneurs based in Houston, TX. For over 35 years, he has contributed generously to the diaspora. He being the producer of ‘Vision Arabia’ broadcasted on Jaihind channel in Bahrain, Koodal is a noted creative contributor on multiple media platforms. It’s noteworthy that Koodal, is the American Region President of The World Malayali Council as well. He is the Managing Director of the Houston based M.S.J. Business Group.

Elected Vice President Suresh Ramakrishnan is the Managing Director of Houston based leading publication ‘Nerkaazhcha’. He has served as the Greater Houston Malayali Association in the capacity of General Secretary.

Andrew Jacob, the General Secretary, is the serving Cultural committee Chairman of the World Malayali Council and he is a Board Member at The Houston Malayali Association.

Joint Secretary Reny Kavalayil, is a noted media professional of Indian diaspora and socially he serves on the board of the Houston Malayali Association. Simon Valachery, the elected chapter Treasurer is the Managing Editor of the publication ‘Nerkaazhcha’ as well he is a recognized promising leader of the diaspora.

The new leadership was complimented and congratulated by the IAPC National Secretary Jacob Kudassanad, noted media associates Sangeeta Dua, Roy Thomas,  Babu Chacko, Saji Dominic together with the Houston Chapter members.

IAPC was formed with the lofty goal of realizing a long-felt need to bring together the media groups and the Indian American media persons across the United States under one umbrella to work together and support one another, and thus giving them a powerful voice in the media world and the larger society. IAPC members are dedicated to fulfill the vision of enhancing their own journalistic skills while striving to help fellow journalists and future generations to work towards the common cause of enhancing the well being and efficiency of all peoples of the world.For more information, please visit:

Social media affects all in unique ways

A generation ago, the likes of Walter Cronkite, Peter Jennings and Diane Sawyer were the heroes of television news in the United States. Now the biggest stars are arguably Sean Hannity and Rachel Maddow. Notice the difference? Cronkite, Jennings and Sawyer reported the news. Hannity and Maddow talk about the news, and occasionally make it. But you never doubt how they feel about it.
Evening newscasts on ABC, CBS and NBC gave straightforward accounts of the day’s events, and morning shows told you what happened while you slept. Newspapers flourished, with sections clearly marked for news and editorial pages for opinion. The one cable network, in its infancy, followed the play-it-straight rules of the big broadcasters. There was no Internet, no social media feed, no smartphone with headlines flashing.
Today, many newspapers are diminished. People are as likely to find articles through links on social media posted by friends and celebrities. Three TV news channels, two with firmly established points of view, air an endless loop of politically laced talk. There’s no easy escape from a 24-hour-a-day news culture.
The internet’s emergence has made the media far more democratic — for good and ill. There are many more voices to hear. Exposure to different content and ideas on social media and TV affects each and every one of us differently. It helps every one of us form ideas, change our attitudes, beliefs and actions in so unique ways.
There are some positive aspects to social media. It’s important to remember that teens are hardwired for socialization, and social media makes socializing easy and immediate. Teens who struggle with social skills, social anxiety, or who don’t have easy access to face-to-face socializing with other teens might benefit from connecting with other teens through social media.
A recent study found that individual-based social networking is said to have grown at the expense of more traditional personal relationships. The research found this in some instances, but more commonly found social media being used to actually reinforce traditional groups, such as family, castes, and tribes, and to repair the ruptures created by migration and mobility.
Having been connected to social media also helps change our broader views on the world and the happenings. According to a study by Pew Research Center, 14% of the people surveyed stated that they have changed their views about a political or social issue in the past year because of something they saw on social media.
Certain groups, particularly young men, are more likely than others to say they’ve modified their views because of social media. Around three-in-ten men ages 18 to 29 (29%) say their views on a political or social issue changed in the past year due to social media. This is roughly twice the share saying this among all Americans and more than double the shares among men and women ages 30 and older (12% and 11%, respectively).
There are also differences by race and ethnicity, according to the new survey. Around one-in-five black (19%) and Hispanic (22%) Americans say their views changed due to social media, compared with 11% of whites.
In 2016, the Center asked social media users whether they had “ever modified” their views about a political or social issue because of something they saw on social media. Two-in-ten said yes and 79% said no, with more Democrats and Democratic leaners than Republicans and Republican leaners saying they had modified views.
Although most people have not changed their views on a political or social issue in the past year because of social media, those who have also tend to place a high level of personal importance on social media as a tool for personal political engagement and activism.
Just over half whose views changed (56%) say social media is personally important in providing a venue to express their political opinions, compared with a third of social media users who have not changed a view in the past year (33%).
While Americans who haven’t changed their views put less personal importance in social media, majorities see these platforms as helping give a voice to underrepresented groups; highlighting important issues that might otherwise go unnoticed; or helping hold powerful people accountable for their actions.
As President Donald Trump rewrites the rules of engagement to knock the media off stride, he’s found a receptive audience among his supporters for complaints about “fake news” and journalists who are “enemies of the people.”
 “We don’t have a communications and public sphere that can discern between fact and opinion, between serious journalists and phonies,” says Stephen J.A. Ward, author of 10 books on the media, including the upcoming “Ethical Journalism in a Populist Age.”
In an ideal world, Ward says, people would have an opportunity to learn media literacy. And he’d have fewer uneasy cocktail party encounters after he meets someone new and announces that he’s an expert in journalism ethics. “After they laugh, they talk about some person spouting off on Fox or something,” he says. He has to explain: That may be some people’s idea of journalism, but it’s not news reporting.

Sundar Pichai’s mea culpa over Google’s #MeToo moment

Google’s chief executive, Sundar Pichai, issued a mea culpa of sorts as its employees around the world held walkouts to protest how the company had handled sexual harassment.

Google CEO’s mea culpa: Tech company boss admits ‘we clearly didn’t live up to our expectations’ after thousands of his employees walked out across the world over sexual harassment. Google workers around the globe walked out in mass protest against the protection of Andy Rubin last week.

Android’s mobile software creator was reportedly given a $90million exit package despite facing misconduct allegations that were reported to the company before her resigned and deemed credible

Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, admits ‘we didn’t always do it right’ but says ‘we are definitely doing our best’

Rubin is accused of coercing a woman into performing oral sex on him while in a hotel room in 2013

Google has fired 48 people over sexual harassment claims in the last two years, including 13 senior people

Thousands walked out of offices in cities across North America and Europe, and some even resigned

Pichai said that sexual harassment was ‘a societal problem and Google is a large comapany’

Google’s CEO has admitted ‘we didn’t always do it right’, but insists sexual harassment is a societal problem after the tech giant paid out $90m to a sex-pest executive.

Thousands of employees took part in a mass walkout, dubbed the ‘Walkout For Real Change,’ one week after Android software creator Andy Rubin was accused of coercing a woman into performing oral sex on him in a hotel in 2013, reported by the New York Times.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai took to the stage yesterday, ‘It’s been a difficult time here,’ he told the New York Times DealBook conference. ‘There’s been anger and frustration within the company. We all feel it. I feel it too. At Google, we set a very high bar, and we clearly didn’t live up to our expectations.’

Rubin denied the allegations in a tweet, saying the article contained ‘numerous inaccuracies’ and ‘wild exaggerations’.

But Rubin is believed to have received a considerable exit package in 2014, valued at approximately $90 million, and was also loaned $14 million in 2012 to buy a seaside villa in Japan at one per cent interest.

Pichai refused to confirm there was a toxic culture and said, ‘Moments like this show that we didn’t always get it right, and so we are committed to doing better.’

Google has fired 48 people over sexual harassment in the last two years, 13 of them senior, according to the Times.

Google X director Richard DeVaul and former senior vice president Amit Singhal were also named in the Times report, as alleged perpetrators of sexual misconduct.

Pichai told the audience at the Times conference, ‘Sexual harassment is a societal problem and Google is a large company,’ and added, ‘We are definitely doing our best.’

The demonstration was the latest expression of a year-long backlash which has rocked Pichai’s tenure after he became CEO in 2015.

Last year he was the subject of intense scrutiny after he fired a software engineer who had deigned to question Google’s diversity and gender equality strategy in an internal memo.

James Damore sued the tech company in January, while Pichai said: ‘Within the company we allow for a lot of people to speak up, but we have a code of conduct.’

The demonstration helped scupper Google’s Maven project to help the U.S. military scan battlefields using drones and artificial intelligence.

Workers have also protested Google’s plans to launch a censored search engine in China, and work by Amazon and Microsoft to assist police agencies and federal immigration agents with facial recognition and other tools.

‘These people are not easily replaceable and as a result they have a significant amount of power,’ said Kade Crockford, who tracks how new technology affects civil rights for the ACLU of Massachusetts.

As the mass protest moved to the west coast, Google employees gathered in the San Francisco Bay area where the main headquarters is located in Mountain View, and Los Angeles to protest the company culture.

8 facts about Americans and Facebook


Facebook is one of the most popular social media platforms among adults in the United States. At the same time, it has attracted scrutiny in recent years because of concerns over its ability to keep users’ personal information private and its role in the 2016 presidential election. Here are eight facts about Americans and Facebook, based on Pew Research Center surveys conducted in 2018:

1Around two-thirds (68%) of U.S. adults use Facebook, according to a survey conducted in January. That’s unchanged from April 2016, the last time the Center asked this question, but up from 54% of adults in August 2012.

With the exception of YouTube – the video-sharing platform used by 73% of adults – no other major social media platform comes close to Facebook in terms of usage. Around a third of U.S. adults (35%) say they use Instagram, while smaller shares say they use Pinterest, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Twitter and WhatsApp.

2Among U.S. adults who use Facebook, around three-quarters (74%) visit the site at least once a day, according to the January survey. The share of adult users who visit Facebook at least once a day is higher than the shares who visit Snapchat (63%) and Instagram (60%) at least once a day. However, similar shares of Facebook and Snapchat users say they visit each site several times a day (51% and 49%, respectively).

3Facebook is popular among all demographic groups, though some adults are more likely to use it than others. Nearly three-quarters of women in the U.S. (74%) use the platform, compared with 62% of men. There are differences by community type and education level, too: Adults in urban areas are more likely to use it than those in suburban or rural areas, as are those with a college degree when compared with people who have lower levels of education.

Around eight-in-ten (81%) of those ages 18 to 29 use Facebook – about twice the share among those 65 and older (41%). However, the share of older Americans who use the platform has doubled since August 2012, when just 20% of those 65 and older said they used it.

4Facebook is used by around half of America’s teens, but it no longer dominates the teen social media landscape as it once did, according to a survey of U.S. teensconducted in March and April. Today, 51% of those ages 13 to 17 say they use the platform, down from 71% in a 2014-2015 survey.

The top sites among today’s teens include YouTube (85%), Instagram (72%) and Snapchat (69%). In the 2014-2015 survey, Facebook was the only platform used by a clear majority of teens.

5Lower-income teens are more likely than higher-income teens to use Facebook. U.S. teens generally use similar social media platforms regardless of their demographic characteristics. When it comes to Facebook, however, seven-in-ten teens living in households earning less than $30,000 a year say they use the platform, compared with 36% of those whose annual family income is $75,000 or more.

6Around four-in-ten U.S. adults (43%) get news from Facebook, according to a survey conducted in July and August. The share of U.S. adults who get news through Facebook is much higher than the shares who get news through YouTube (21%), Twitter (12%), Instagram (8%), LinkedIn (6%) and other platforms. Among U.S. adults who get news from Facebook, women are more likely than men to do this (61% vs. 39%), as are whites when compared with nonwhites (62% vs. 37%).

7Many adult Facebook users have a complex relationship with the platform. A little over half of adult Facebook users in the U.S. (54%) have adjusted their privacy settings in the past 12 months, according to a separate Center survey conducted in May and June. The survey followed revelations that former consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had collected data on tens of millions of Facebook users without their knowledge or permission.

About four-in-ten adult Facebook users (42%) have taken a break from checking the platform for several weeks or more, and about a quarter (26%) have deleted the app from their phone at some point in the past year. Combined, 74% of adult Facebook users say they have taken at least one of these three actions.

8Many adult Facebook users in the U.S. lack a clear understanding of how the platform’s news feed works, according to the May and June survey. Around half of these users (53%) say they do not understand why certain posts are included in their news feed and others are not, including 20% who say they do not understand this at all.

Just 14% of Facebook users believe ordinary users have a lot of control over the content that appears in their news feed, while twice as many (28%) say users have no control. (A 57% majority of Facebook users say they have a little control over what appears in their news feed.) Around six-in-ten Facebook users (63%) say they have not intentionally tried to influence or change the content that appears on their news feed.

Hasan Minhaj featured in TIME among Next Generation Leaders

Indian American Hasan Minhaj has been featured by Time Magazine as a Next Generation Leader in is October 11th edition. The former “Daily Show” correspondent Minhaj is now hosting his own show, “The Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj,” a political satire show that airs on Netflix, premiering Oct. 28.
“Minhaj has grand ambitions,” Time wrote in its profile of the comic, speaking of his new show. He hopes to tackle large social issues like immigration around the world, the rise of conservatism in different countries, sports as a vehicle for political debate and climate change,” it said.
The magazine named 25 leaders from across the globe, among them entertainers, athletes and other public figures of color. The magazine named 25 leaders from across the globe, among them entertainers, athletes and other public figures of color.

“There haven’t been many Indian-American comedians to reach Minhaj’s level of fame —and even fewer who openly talk about issues like Islamophobia in their work,” Time wrote. On his new Netflix show, the former “The Daily Show” correspondent “hopes to tackle large social issues like immigration around the world, the rise of conservatism in different countries, sports as a vehicle for political debate and climate change,” Time says.

But Minhaj’s interests are also more wide-ranging than most American comics. His hour-long comedy special “Homecoming King,” which debuted on Netflix in May 2017, won him a Peabody Award.

Minhaj has a particular talent for vacillating between the comic and the serious, a method he employed at the 2017 White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Minhaj became aware of his natural talent for comedy while competing in speech and debate at his California high school: “If I could make the judges laugh, I would automatically get 10 to 15 points higher on my score card,” he told Time.

Later, as a political science major in college, he realized that standup was basically speech and debate with jokes. He began sneaking out of his parents’ house at night in order to perform sets in San Francisco. Minhaj eventually caught the attention of “The Daily Show.” And the rest as they say is history.

Minhaj plans to bring the narrative style of “Homecoming King” to “Patriot Act,” the report said. “I made it very clear that I don’t want to be sitting behind a desk in front of a city skyline,” he told the publication. “The moment people turned on their screens, they’d be like, ‘Oh, that’s Indian John Oliver.’”

Time notes that, historically, audiences have turned to Netflix for bingeing, not appointment viewing. So instead of tackling weekly headlines, Minhaj will investigate evergreen political topics, like affirmative action.

Rather than focusing on the headline-making lawsuit that alleged Harvard University discriminates against Asian students, Minhaj and his co-writers plan to analyze meritocracy more broadly: who gets what and why, the report said.

“I’m an insider and an outsider at the same time,” he says. “There hasn’t been a show like this because there haven’t been people who look like me in this space.”

Shashi Tharoor’s new book on Narendra Modi is not just ‘floccinaucinihilipilification’

My new book, THE PARADOXICAL PRIME MINISTER, is more than just a 400-page exercise in floccinaucinihilipilification, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said in a Twitter post that had everybody reaching for the dictionary.

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Wednesday once again introduced Twitterati and the literati to a difficult, near unpronounceable word, describing his new book on Prime Minister Narendra Modi as “more than just a 400-page exercise in floccinaucinihilipilification”. According to the Oxford dictionary, the word is a noun and means “the action or habit of estimating something as worthless”.

Discussing the usage of the word, the dictionary adds, “Floccinaucinihilipilification is one of a number of very long words that occur very rarely in genuine use.” “My new book, THE PARADOXICAL PRIME MINISTER, is more than just a 400-page exercise in floccinaucinihilipilification. Pre-order it to find out why!” Tharoor said in a Twitter post that had everybody reaching for the dictionary.

The book itself was relegated to the background as the word got Twitterati talking.

“I get a feeling of floccinaucinihilipilification when I don’t know the meaning of floccinaucinihilipilification,” tweeted one of Tharoor’s followers.

“What my English teachers taught was a lie. Won’t order it as I cannot take out the dictionary everytime,” said another person in reply to Tharoor’s tweet.

The book is currently available for pre-order on Amazon.

According to the description of the book on Amazon, “Shashi Tharoor has stitched together a compelling portrait of this paradoxical figure (Narendra Modi). Never before has there been such a superbly written and devastatingly accurate account of the most controversial prime minister India has ever had.”

Tharoor’s love for the language and propensity for little heard and little used words is well known.

In May 2017, the MP from Thiruvananthapuram and author of 17 books got netizens talking when he described the coverage of the death of his wife Sunanda Pushkar by a news channel as an “Exasperating farrago of distortions, misrepresentations and outright lies being broadcast by an unprincipled showman masquerading as a journalist”.

In December last year, he used the word ‘rodomontade’, meaning boastful or inflated talk or behaviour. “I choose my words because they are the best ones for the idea I want to convey, not the most obscure or rodomontade ones!” he tweeted. And in February this year, he introduced ‘troglodytes’ to the Twitter world in a response to Vinay Katiyar’s comment on the Taj Mahal.

“We can’t let these troglodytes destroy our country & everything beautiful in it,” he tweeted.

Facebook says hackers accessed personal data of 29 million users

Facebook had originally said up to 50 million accounts were affected in a cyberattack that exploited a trio of software flaws to steal “access tokens” that enable people to automatically log back into the social network.

Facebook Inc said on Friday attackers stole names and contact details of 29 million users in the mass security breach disclosed by the social media network late last month.

The breach, Facebook’s worst ever, has exacerbated concerns among users, lawmakers and investors that the company is not doing enough to safeguard data, particularly in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.

Still, hackers neither accessed personal messages nor financial data and did not use Facebook logins to access other websites, all of which would have been a cause for greater concern. Facebook originally had said in late September hackers stole digital log-in codes to take over nearly 50 million user accounts.

On Friday, the company revealed that stolen data on 14 million users included birth dates, employers, education and lists of friends. For 15 million users, it was restricted to just name and contact details.

All of those could help a fraudster pose as Facebook, the employer or a friend. They could then craft a more sophisticated email aimed at tricking users into providing login information on a fake page or into clicking on an attachment that would infect their computers.

Facebook said it will send customised messages in the coming days to affected users to explain what information the attackers accessed and how they can protect themselves, including from suspicious emails, text messages or calls.

A company executive said on a conference call that Facebook will not provide country-by-country breakdowns of the affected users. The hackers used an automated program to move from account to account and harvest the data quickly.

“We’re cooperating with the FBI, which is actively investigating and asked us not to discuss who may be behind this attack,” Facebook said on a blog post

The social network in late September did not confirm if information had actually been stolen.

“There’s not much more that Facebook can do,” said Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Securities. “The stolen data is likely to be used by the hackers, so this problem is likely to persist for quite some time.”

Facebook’s latest vulnerability has existed since July 2017, but the company first identified it in mid-September after spotting a fairly large increase in use of its “view as” feature. It determined that it was an attack on Sept. 25.

“Within two days, we closed the vulnerability, stopped the attack and secured people’s accounts by restoring the access tokens for people who were potentially exposed,” Facebook said.

The “view as” feature allows users to check their privacy settings by giving them a glimpse of what their profile looks like to others. But a trio of errors in Facebook’s software enabled someone accessing the feature to post and browse from Facebook accounts of other users.

Facebook did not rule out the possibility of smaller-scale attacks and said it would continue to investigate.

Facebook shares fell 2.6 percent after the breach was announced last month and they were down 0.5 percent following the updated disclosures on Friday.

4 Indian Films to Screen at 21st Annual United Nations Association Film Festival

Four Indian films with South Asian themes will be featured at the 21st Annual United Nations Association Film Festival at the Aquarius Theater here beginning Oct. 18.

“Street Workers United,” an eight-minute U.S.-India co-production screening Oct. 21 focuses on India’s street vendors and rickshaw drivers. For years they’ve lived and worked without legal protections and without access to financial services, and have been subject to harassment by the police, the mafia, and others, according to a press release. NIDAN is working to change all that by organizing them to stand up for their own rights.

On the same night, “The True Cost,” an India-Bangladesh-Italy co-production lasting 93 minutes, is a story about the clothes we wear, the people who make them, and the impact the industry is having on our world. The price of clothing has been decreasing for decades, while the human and environmental costs have grown dramatically, said the release.

“Love Sick,” a 74-minute film from India screening Oct. 24, asks the question, “How in India, a culture obsessed with marriage but where AIDS is an unspeakable disease, can one find love and companionship if you’re HIV-positive?”

On Oct. 25, the 55-minute long “Raghu Rai” from India is an unframed portrait of Magnum photographer Raghu Rai and his 50-year-long journey capturing the stories of India as told through the eyes of his own rebel daughter. Together, they embark on a journey to Kashmir.

During opening night, sponsored by iTalico, Palo Alto Mayor Liz Kniss will deliver opening remarks with all invited filmmakers present.

The Aquarius Theatre is located at 430 Emerson Street in downtown Palo Alto. For more information about the 21st UNAFF please visit

Facebook says 50 million users affected by security breach

Almost 50 million Facebook accounts were affected by a major cyber security breach, the social networking company said on Friday. Facebook said it has already fixed the vulnerability and informed law enforcement.

The company said it had discovered a loophole in the “View As” feature which allowed cyber criminals to gain control of the affected accounts. “View As” is a popular Facebook feature that allows users to see what their profiles look like to others. As a precaution, Facebook has temporarily disabled the feature.

“On the afternoon of Tuesday, September 25, our engineering team discovered a security issue affecting almost 50 million accounts. We’re taking this incredibly seriously and wanted to let everyone know what’s happened and the immediate action we’ve taken to protect people’s security,” said Guy Rosen, VP of Product Management at Facebook, in a blog post.

Facebook says attackers exploited a “vulnerability” in Facebook’s code that impacted “View As”, a feature that lets people see what their own profile looks like to someone else. This allowed them to steal Facebook access tokens which they could then use to take over people’s accounts.”

Access tokens are similar to digital keys that allows users to stay logged into Facebook in the background and don’t need them to re-enter their password every time they launch the application on their phone or use it on a browser.

“This attack exploited the complex interaction of multiple issues in our code. It stemmed from a change we made to our video uploading feature in July 2017, which impacted “View As.” The attackers not only needed to find this vulnerability and use it to get an access token, they then had to pivot from that account to others to steal more tokens,” Facebook added.

Saket Modi, CEO and co-founder at Lucideus cyber security firm, explains that hackers were able to fool Facebook servers to believe they were the authorised users of the target’s account, thus giving the attackers full control and access of the affected account.

“Facebook would have a log of the number of user profiles this feature was used to access, whose tokens they have reset (or the previous session has expired) as per their statement. However, we don’t know for how long the vulnerability existed, who the hacker(s) were and the extent of damage that might have been caused in terms of stealing not only one’s profile data(which was in the case of Cambridge Analytica) but in this case potentially, the personal messages, every picture (even the ones hidden from friends/public), chats on messenger among others,” he added.

Sophos Principal Research Scientist at Chester Wisniewski said, “In something as big and complicated as Facebook, there are bound to be bugs. The theft of these authorization tokens is certainly a problem, but not nearly as big of a risk to user’s privacy as other data breaches we have heard about or even Cambridge Analytica for that matter. As with any social media platform, users should assume their information may be made public, through hacking or simply through accidental oversharing. This is why sensitive information should never be shared through these platforms. For now, logging out and back in is all that is necessary. The truly concerned should use this as a reminder and an opportunity to review all of their security and privacy settings on Facebook and all other social media platforms they share personal information with.”

What should users do?

Facebook says users don’t need to reset their passwords as they will reset token accounts in the background if it finds more accounts affected by the breach.

“People’s privacy and security is incredibly important, and we’re sorry this happened. It’s why we’ve taken immediate action to secure these accounts and let users know what happened. There’s no need for anyone to change their passwords. But people who are having trouble logging back into Facebook — for example because they’ve forgotten their password — should visit our Help Center,” said Facebook.

One of the measures that Facebook users can take right now is to log out of all sessions (if using multiple devices) and log in again. Or they can simply reset your passwords right now and add two-step verification.

Users may also revisit the privacy settings of their recent posts and photos as Facebook has disabled the “View As” feature.

Sundar Pichai visits Congress to combat charges of bias against conservatives

Google chief executive Sundar Pichai paid a rare visit to Washington on Friday to defend the search giant against allegations that it silences conservatives online, part of an effort to defuse political tensions between the company and Congress ahead of a hearing later this year.

At a gathering with a dozen Republicans, House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy of California stressed to Pichai that party lawmakers are concerned about “what’s going on with transparency and the power of social media today,” particularly given the fact that Google processes 90 percent of the world’s searches.

Google long has denied that it censors conservatives. Pichai explained during the roughly hour-long private meeting how the company sets up its teams and codes its algorithms to prevent bias, according to a person who attended the meeting but spoke on condition of anonymity.

Pichai’s trip to Capitol Hill comes in anticipation of his appearance at a hearing later this fall, where lawmakers stressed they would press him not only on charges of censorship but other issues facing the company — including the privacy protections it affords users and its ambitions to relaunch its search engine in heavily censored China.

Exiting the meeting, Pichai described it as “constructive and informative,” adding in a statement that Google is “committed to continuing an active dialogue with members from both sides of the aisle, working proactively with Congress on a variety of issues, explaining how our products help millions of American consumers and businesses, and answering questions as they arise.”

Pichai’s personal outreach – the beginning of more to come – caps off a bruising month for Google in the nation’s capital. It’s been dogged by a series of recent mishaps in the way it presents search results, which Trump has claimed are “rigged” against him. Fears about the tech industry’s size and power also dominated a meeting this week between the Justice Department and state attorneys general, where some officials expressed an openness in investigating Google and its tech industry peers on privacy and antitrust grounds.

Others in Washington question whether Google and the rest of the tech industry are prepared to stop foreign governments, like Russia, from spreading propaganda online ahead of the 2018 election. Yet Google infuriated lawmakers when it opted against sending Pichai or Larry Page, the chief executive of parent-company Alphabet, to testify at a Senate hearing in September on the matter. Instead, lawmakers left an empty chair at the witness table to reflect Google’s absence and pilloried the company anyway on a range of issues.

In a sign that some Democrats and Republicans remain miffed at Google, GOP Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina and Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia – the leaders of the panel that had asked Google to testify – declined to meet with Pichai this week, according to two people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to speak on the record. Burr’s office declined to comment; a spokesperson for Warner confirmed the matter.

Instead, Pichai huddled beginning Thursday with lawmakers like House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii, spokespeople confirmed. Schatz used the opportunity to press Google on its privacy practices, his aide said, as he and other lawmakers continue to weigh whether they should pass new regulations restricting the way tech giants collect and monetize users’ data.

At Friday’s meeting, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said he and his peers had “served notice” to Pichai to expect questions on everything from “antitrust issues” to allegations of conservative bias. The date of the hearing in front of the panel has not been announced.

“There’s a lot of interest in their algorithm, how those algorithms work, how those algorithms are supervised,” Goodlatte said.

Some Republicans also pressed Pichai on Google’s ambitions in China, though Pichai stressed that Google is far from a final decision on whether to launch a censored version of its search engine there, according to Goodlatte.

Later, Pichai was expected to shuttle over to the White House for a meeting with Larry Kudlow, the president’s top economic adviser, according to three people familiar with his schedule but not authorized to discuss it publicly. Previously, Kudlow had signaled an openness to regulating Google search results in response to allegations of anti-conservative bias.

Sivic launched to kill petition sites and change the way we resolve issues

The Sivic App was launched on August 30th 2018 at the Peninsula Hotel Chicago attended by an august gathering of diplomats, leaders, entrepreneurs, politicians, doctors and eminent members of the Indian-American diaspora including Chief Guest Consul General of India Neeta Bhushan.

 “The App that Kills Petitions” Sivic is a platform that addresses civic engagement and a disruptive alternative to a petition site. The technology allows people to instantaneously address issues or policies that matter to them with the relevant influencers- that consist of politicians and organizations. Over the years it has become prominent that the incumbent social media platforms have not been able to address civic engagement despite having the social structure and reach.

Instead petition sites have risen with an attempt to resolve civic engagement but offers a complicated & lengthy process to complete. It also does not provide any insight onto directly communicating with their influencers. People are still finding hard to contact their local US representatives and senators. Hence, the biggest obstacle for a common person to use a petition site is the lengthy plan required, from writing the description of your reasons, to then researching the appropriate influencers and lastly that it will not take effect until a threshold for a certain number of endorsement is reached.

Sivic is designed to solve this problem by providing an instantaneous and effective alternative. It offers an intuitive web app where you simply need to write a headline, select an issue category, tag an influencer whom we recommend based on your issue and location and lastly edit an auto-written script that’s created to best address your needs. We’ve simplified to clicking send to a matter of 3 minutes.

President, Faateh Sayeed, says “While many aspects of our lives have advanced and got simplified with technology, I believe our ‘civic lives’ are yet to reach a technological threshold. More and more people are now exploring newer opportunities to engage with the decision makers and connect with them actively. The interest of politics among the American people has surged. Now more than ever, we are interested in learning about our leaders and their vision. We need to factor the growing political consciousness of the masses and make an attempt to increase civic engagement in the country.”

CEO, Dilraj Rahal, added “Sivic is a product, a function, a platform that is made by the people and for the people. Our main purpose is not to empower people, as I strongly believe that as Americans we are already empowered, we are powerful because we care of all social issues and have been vocal about it. All we need is a platform that puts everyone at equal, one that would enable the common person to address an issue in an instantaneous and effective way.”

Create a movement and join the platform for impact, sign up at:

Primary Links to Include:  Sivic YouTube Video:

Secondary Links: Sivic Facebook: ;  Sivic Instagram:

Netflix’s Rajneeshee documentary ‘Wild Wild Country’ wins an Emmy Award

“Wild Wild Country” a Netflix documentary on Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and his followers in Oregon, has won in the outstanding documentary or nonfiction series category.The six-part “Wild Wild Country,” whose executive producers include Mark Duplass and Jay Duplass, even inspired a “Saturday Night Live” parody.

The show, based on the spiritual guru who attracted thousands of followers to his ashrama headquartered in Wasco County, Oregon, from 1981 to 1985, won the award for ‘Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series.’

“Wild Wild Country” shows how when, one fine day in 1981, disciples of Rajneesh, dressed in red and carrying their leader’s portrait, descend on the small town of Antelope, making the locals very uneasy.

The story, full of unbelievable twists, further showcases how a 64,000-acre utopia called Rajneeshpuram was built, which housed a hospital, schools, restaurants, a shopping mall, and an airport.

The arrival of the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and his followers in Oregon may have been traumatic and outrageous where locals were concerned, but “Wild Wild Country,” the Netflix documentary that revisits the saga, just won an Emmy award.

Longtime Oregonians have their own memories of everything that happened in the early 1980s when the Bhagwan, Ma Anand Sheela, and the rest descended on Wasco County, taking over the town of Antelope, and setting up the Rajneeshpuram compound.

For those who weren’t living here, the story seems so bizarre it’s hard to believe, which is part of the reason why “Wild Wild Country” caused such a stir when it began streaming on Netflix, in March.

Filmmakers Chapman Way and Maclain Way, who had already made an Oregon-set documentary with their entertaining history of the Portland Mavericks, “The Battered Bastards of Baseball,” used archival news footage and reports (notably from the Oregonian, which covered the Rajneeshee story extensively) to tell the strange-but-true tale of crime, would-be assassination plots, land-use battles, and more.

The brothers also filmed new interviews with Ma Anand Sheela — who changed her name to Sheela Birnstiel and moved to Switzerland after she got out of prison — true believer Swami Prem Niren (aka Philip J. Toelkes), some some Antelope-area residents and former Oregonian reporter Les Zaitz. An edited replay of the two-night Creative Arts Emmy Awards ceremonies aired at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15 on FXX.

Documentary on Kailash Satyarthi on YouTube

American video-sharing website YouTube has acquired the award-winning documentary on the work of Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi and will bring the Indian activist’s sustained efforts to end child labor to a global audience.

The Price of Free, directed by Derek Doneen and produced by American film and television personality Davis Guggenheim, follows Satyarthi and his team through secret raids and missions to rescue children.

Co-produced and co-financed by film company Participant Media and Concordia Studio, the 90-minute YouTube original feature length documentary will debut on YouTube channel SoulPancake, the digital division of Participant Media, on November 27.

The film had premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the US Documentary Grand Jury Prize. It seeks to raise awareness on child labour and through the mission of Satyarthi and his team, build a better future for children across the world, according to a statement by YouTube. The Price of Free presents an opportunity to amplify the voice of Kailash Satyarthi, a tireless global activist, and to accelerate the reach and impact of his efforts to end child labour, it said.

The 90-minute feature-length documentary, “The Price of Free” (formerly titled, “Kailash”), which is a suspenseful yet intimate look at Satyarthi’s groundbreaking struggle to liberate every child possible, will debut on YouTube Nov. 27.

From director Derek Doneen and producer Davis Guggenheim (“An Inconvenient Truth,” “He Named Me Malala”), the film follows Satyarthi and his team of leaders around the world through gripping secret raids and quests for missing children.

The film depicts how Satyarthi, who as a young man promised himself that he would end child slavery in his lifetime, left a lucrative career as an electrical engineer and started Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement) to rescue children from the shackles of slavery.

In the decades since, he has rescued more than 87,000 children and built a global movement including one of the largest civil society movements, the Global March Against Child Labor that demanded an international law on the worst forms of child labor, and the 100 Million Campaign, a youth-driven call to action ensuring every child in the world is free, safe and educated, said a press release.

“The Price of Free” presents an opportunity to amplify the voice of the tireless global activist, and to accelerate the reach and impact of his efforts to end child labor.

“This film shows the real scourge of child trafficking, child labor, slavery and exploitation that is ruining the childhood of millions and ruthlessly crushing their dreams,” Satyarthi said in a statement. “It shares stories of the most marginalized and vulnerable children that I have been fighting for all my life and will continue to. I call on everyone to watch this film and work with us in creating a world where all children are free, healthy, safe and educated – a world where every child is free to be a child. For, if any child is not free then none of us are free.”

“We are incredibly inspired by the heroic work Kailash Satyarthi and his team do every day,” said Susanne Daniels, global head of original content at YouTube. “One of YouTube’s missions is to give everyone a voice – and so we are proud to feature such an important and educational documentary that not only gives these young children a voice, but supports Kailash’s mission in giving them the childhood they rightly deserve.”

Madhulika Sikka hired to create flagship podcast at Washington Post

The Washington Post has hired award-winning journalist and veteran audio storyteller Madhulika Sikka as an executive producer on The Post’s audio team. Sikka will hire a team and oversee the creation of a new flagship podcast set to launch later this year.

Madhulika Sikka, who begins her new assignment Sept. 10, is also a former senior producer of Ted Koppel’s “Nightline” on ABC News and most recently served as public editor at PBS. The podcast is expected to launch later this year.

 “The Post is making a major investment in audio following the tremendous success of podcasts like “Can He Do That?” and “Presidential,” said Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, managing editor at The Washington Post. “Madhulika brings to this role incredible news judgment and deep knowledge about the medium, positioning her to develop a show that aligns with The Post’s commitment to high-quality journalism and innovation.”

Sikka joins The Post from PBS where she served as Public Editor. Previously, Sikka was Executive Editor at NPR News where she worked for nine years and also served as the executive producer of “Morning Edition,” the most listened-to radio news broadcast in the country. Prior to that she was a television producer at ABC News for 13 years including senior producer at Nightline with Ted Koppel.

She is a recipient of multiple awards for her journalism including Emmys, duPonts, Peabodys, as well as from NABJ, SAJA, the RTNDA and the RTCA. She is also a writer and author of the book A Breast Cancer Alphabet. Sikka holds an undergraduate degree from the University of London and a master’s of philosophy in Economics and Politics of Development from Cambridge University (U.K.).

The Post’s managing editor Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, said that the paper “is making a major investment in audio following the tremendous success of podcasts like ‘Can He Do That?’ and ‘Presidential.’ “ He said “Madhulika brings to this role incredible news judgment and deep knowledge about the medium, positioning her to develop a show that aligns with the Post’s commitment to high-quality journalism and innovation.”

During her time with “Morning Edition,” Sikka was “credited with revitalizing the show and making it more relevant and lively,” said the press release. “She was then promoted to run the NPR newsroom as executive editor, where she helped integrate audio and digital and led cross-newsroom coverage, including the Peabody Award-winning coverage of the Ebola crisis,” said the press release. Sikka told India Abroad she was looking forward to the new challenge to “create something from scratch.” Earlier, in a Facebook post she noted that while it had been quite some time since she’d been in a daily newsroom, if she was going to work in one “The Washington Post seems like a good one!”

Techies Who Raised $1.5 Million for Kerala Flood Relief From Social Media, Invited By Kerala CM

Three Indian Americans from Chicago, Illinois have raised a remarkable $1.5 million in five days to aid the over one million victims of the devastating floods in Kerala, which have claimed 400 lives.

Arun Nellamattom, Ajomon Poothurail, and Abin Kulathilkarottu – all natives of the flood-ravaged state – created a Facebook fundraising page on August 15, Kerala Flood Relief Fund from USA: Within five days, they were able to raise $1.3 Million and transferred the amount to the Chief Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund.

On seeing Indian Americans’ warm response to the campaign, Kerala CM’s office approached Arun Nellamattom and Ajomon Poothurail to continue the fundraising effort. As of Aug. 23, the site had raised $1.5 million, from 30,000 donations, ranging in amounts from $20 to over $250. All donations are being channeled through the Care and Share Foundation, a 501 (c) 3-approved charity, which allows donors to receive a tax credit.

Techies Who Raised $1.5 Million for Kerala Flood Relief From Social Media, Invited By Kerala CMNow, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has personally invited Arun Nellamattom and Ajomon Poothurail to visit Kerala and receive gratitude in person. Receiving news of the amount donated by them, a letter came to them from M Sivasankar IAS, secretary to Kerala Chief Minister, inviting Arun and Ajomon to a meeting with the CM.

“It is my pleasure to invite you to come down to Kerala and meet the Hon. Chief Minister and receive our State’s gratitude in person,” the letter says. It adds: “During your visit to Kerala, we would like to arrange an interaction session with you for our start-up community to share your experience.” The letter further makes note of the fundraiser campaign being closed on Facebook, and prompts them to keep it open since ‘the need of resources for rebuilding the state is very high’.

The social activists note that more than $4 billion will be needed to rehabilitate the state known as “God’s Own Country.” Vijayan has invited all three to visit the state and receive gratitude in person.

“We have made history! We did not have any barriers such as political, religious, or anything that apart human in this campaign. We all are able to reaffirm the trust in humanity. This would not have happen without each and every one of you,” wrote Abraham Kulathilkarottu, who is also affiliated with the campaign.

There are numerous local organizations that are raising funds to support the state of Kerala that has been devastated by the fury of the floods. Another Indian American NGO, Sewa International, has raised over $10,000 for the flood relief operations in the state, with the aim of raising $100,000 overall. Sewa International, which led Indian American efforts during Hurricane Harvey in Houston last year, will channel funds through its India partner, Deseeya Seva Bharati Keralam, it said. Over 5,000 volunteers are creating food packets and cooking kits and opening free kitchens and medical camps, according to Quint. Several U.S-based Malayalee organizations have repurposed planned Onam celebrations into fundraisers for flood relief.

Currently, donations for the Kerala flood relief amount to nearly INR 800 crore. The state is planning to seek INR 3000 crore loan from the World Bank for rebuilding the infrastructure and rehabilitating the homeless. More than $4 billion is required to restore Kerala to what it was before the floods occurred.

Evidently, Kerala tourism suffered a huge setback in the wake of the floods. With the infrastructure in shambles at popular tourist places including Munnar and Alappuzha, the state tourism industry has incurred a whopping loss of INR 2100 crore. An estimated INR 100 crore is required to repair the tourism properties owned and managed by Kerala government. Many planned trips to Kerala for vacations in August and September have been canceled or postponed.

Arun Nella, who co-founded a startup apart from running other businesses in Chicago, got the idea, speaking to a group of friends. “The support given by five of them is what made the fundraiser happen,” says Arun, over a call. Joining him in the fundraiser was Ajomon, another businessman based in Chicago.

Arun reveals that the fundraiser had to be closed because it was started as a personal fundraiser and he had to check the taxes and other formalities.  “Fundraiser campaign on Facebook is fairly new. It is allowed in select countries and Facebook lets it happen through crowd-funding. It assigns a team to work with us. And many people reached out to contribute; I reckon at least 30,000 people. Mostly from the US – the fundraiser itself is called Kerala Flood Relief Fund from USA,” Arun says.

The contributions mostly came from US Malayalis, but there were also NRIs from other parts of the country and even a small number of foreigners donating for the cause.

Arun had personally invited 200 people but through the campaign more than 1 lakh invitations went out. When he closed the campaign on Monday, there were a lot of people reaching out to him, saying they too want to contribute and to reopen it.

“I have an advisor called Dr Narendrakumar, who called from New York and asked me if we could reopen the campaign. I said we would need a good reason for it like a letter from the CM’s office. And the next morning there came this letter. By then the team from Facebook too said we could reopen it since it was going so well,” Arun adds.

His own place in Kottayam too had been slightly affected by the floods, but luckily Arun’s immediate family was not at home. “My parents are with me on a holiday now. My wife and kids too are here. I should mention family support because I have been fully engaged in this work the past few days and they were very understanding.”

Ajomon too hails from Kottayam. “Initially, when the fundraiser was started, we were not sure how people would view it. Would they think it is a scam? It seemed a better idea if it didn’t go in one person’s name,” Arun says. That’s when Ajomon joined.

Since it is now clear the funds are being raised to help a state recover from a disaster, the money won’t be taxed and even the fee FB takes to run such a campaign has been waived. “We hope to come to Kerala next week, as soon as everything is clear, and pass on the amount directly to the CM,” Arun says. Both the techies took a flight to Kerala from Chicago O’Hare International Airport on August 27.

Social media affects all in unique ways

A generation ago, the likes of Walter Cronkite, Peter Jennings and Diane Sawyer were the heroes of television news in the United States. Now the biggest stars are arguably Sean Hannity and Rachel Maddow. Notice the difference? Cronkite, Jennings and Sawyer reported the news. Hannity and Maddow talk about the news, and occasionally make it. But you never doubt how they feel about it.

Evening newscasts on ABC, CBS and NBC gave straightforward accounts of the day’s events, and morning shows told you what happened while you slept. Newspapers flourished, with sections clearly marked for news and editorial pages for opinion. The one cable network, in its infancy, followed the play-it-straight rules of the big broadcasters. There was no Internet, no social media feed, no smartphone with headlines flashing.

Today, many newspapers are diminished. People are as likely to find articles through links on social media posted by friends and celebrities. Three TV news channels, two with firmly established points of view, air an endless loop of politically laced talk. There’s no easy escape from a 24-hour-a-day news culture.

The internet’s emergence has made the media far more democratic — for good and ill. There are many more voices to hear. Exposure to different content and ideas on social media and TV affects each and every one of us differently. It helps every one of us form ideas, change our attitudes, beliefs and actions in so unique ways.

There are some positive aspects to social media. It’s important to remember that teens are hardwired for socialization, and social media makes socializing easy and immediate. Teens who struggle with social skills, social anxiety, or who don’t have easy access to face-to-face socializing with other teens might benefit from connecting with other teens through social media.

A recent study found that individual-based social networking is said to have grown at the expense of more traditional personal relationships. The research found this in some instances, but more commonly found social media being used to actually reinforce traditional groups, such as family, castes, and tribes, and to repair the ruptures created by migration and mobility.

Having been connected to social media also helps change our broader views on the world and the happenings. According to a study by Pew Research Center, 14% of the people surveyed stated that they have changed their views about a political or social issue in the past year because of something they saw on social media.

Certain groups, particularly young men, are more likely than others to say they’ve modified their views because of social media. Around three-in-ten men ages 18 to 29 (29%) say their views on a political or social issue changed in the past year due to social media. This is roughly twice the share saying this among all Americans and more than double the shares among men and women ages 30 and older (12% and 11%, respectively).

There are also differences by race and ethnicity, according to the new survey. Around one-in-five black (19%) and Hispanic (22%) Americans say their views changed due to social media, compared with 11% of whites.

In 2016, the Center asked social media users whether they had “ever modified” their views about a political or social issue because of something they saw on social media. Two-in-ten said yes and 79% said no, with more Democrats and Democratic leaners than Republicans and Republican leaners saying they had modified views.

Although most people have not changed their views on a political or social issue in the past year because of social media, those who have also tend to place a high level of personal importance on social media as a tool for personal political engagement and activism.

Just over half whose views changed (56%) say social media is personally important in providing a venue to express their political opinions, compared with a third of social media users who have not changed a view in the past year (33%).

While Americans who haven’t changed their views put less personal importance in social media, majorities see these platforms as helping give a voice to underrepresented groups; highlighting important issues that might otherwise go unnoticed; or helping hold powerful people accountable for their actions.

As President Donald Trump rewrites the rules of engagement to knock the media off stride, he’s found a receptive audience among his supporters for complaints about “fake news” and journalists who are “enemies of the people.”

 “We don’t have a communications and public sphere that can discern between fact and opinion, between serious journalists and phonies,” says Stephen J.A. Ward, author of 10 books on the media, including the upcoming “Ethical Journalism in a Populist Age.”

In an ideal world, Ward says, people would have an opportunity to learn media literacy. And he’d have fewer uneasy cocktail party encounters after he meets someone new and announces that he’s an expert in journalism ethics. “After they laugh, they talk about some person spouting off on Fox or something,” he says. He has to explain: That may be some people’s idea of journalism, but it’s not news reporting.

Veteran Indian journalist Kuldip Nayar dead

Veteran journalist, author and human rights activist Kuldip Nayar died at a hospital in New Delhi, his family said on Thursday last week. He was 95. Nayar breathed his last at the Escorts Hospital at 12.30 a.m. The cremation were held on Thursday afternoon.

Born on August 14, 1923, in Sialkot (Pakistan), Nayar was among the country’s first syndicated columnists and wrote several books.

He was appointed High Commissioner to the UK in 1990 and nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 1997.

Nayar started his journalistic career with the Urdu daily “Anjam” in 1948. He worked in the Press Information Bureau as a Press Officer to then Home Ministers Govind Ballabh Pant and Lal Bahadur Shastri.

He was the editor and General Manager of United News of India (UNI) and also the editor of The Statesman. He also worked with the Indian Express, The Times, The Spectator and the Evening Star.

He was also the author of 15 books including “Beyond the Lines”, “India after Nehru” and “Emergency Retold”.

Senior journalist H.K. Dua, who knew Nayar for 54 years, described him as a “good friend”, a “great journalist” and said his death was a loss to the profession.

“Till the last, he was working. At the age of 94, he kept his interest alive in the news world. He was a great chaser of news and broke many stories in his life. He knew much more of what was happening behind the news than many other journalists and got lots of inside information. Essentially, he remained a thorough journalist,” Dua told IANS.

He said Nayar also made efforts for peace between India and Pakistan and organised candle-light demonstrations.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind were among the leaders who condoled Nayar’s death.

Modi termed him an intellectual giant and recalled his role as a staunch opponent of the Emergency. “Kuldip Nayar was an intellectual giant of our times. Frank and fearless in his views, his work spanned across many decades. His strong stand against the Emergency, public service and commitment to a better India will always be remembered. Saddened by his demise. My condolences,” Modi said in a tweet.

Kovind described him as a determined champion of democracy. “Sad to hear of the passing of Kuldip Nayar, veteran editor and writer, diplomat and parliamentarian, and a determined champion of democracy during the Emergency. His readers will miss him. Condolences to his family and associates,” he said in a tweet.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said Nayar will be best remembered for his struggle against the Emergency. “Saddened by the death of the veteran Journalist Sh. Kuldip Nayar. His contribution to the cause of free speech is unparalleled. He is credited with breaking some of the most exclusive news stories. Will be best remembered for his struggle against the Emergency,” Jaitley said.

Congress communications incharge Randeep Singh Surjewala also expressed his condolences and described Nayar as a role model for his profession.

“My deepest condolences on the passing away of veteran journalist, political commentator and human rights activist, Sh. Kuldip Nayar ji. A role model for many in his profession and beyond, his demise ends an era of journalism of courage, ethics and values, Surjewala said.

Shy, intelligent student with ‘big handwriting’: IIT professors remember Google CEO Sundar Pichai

It was late one night in 2013 when professor Sanat Kumar Roy was woken up by the shrill ringing of his phone. A journalist from the US wanted to know something about a person he insisted was a former student of his. “It was only after some enquiries that I realised that the person he was referring to as Sundar Pichai, then a senior vice-president in Google, was ex-student Pichai Sundarajan,” says the retired IIT Kharagpur professor, with a laugh.

That’s how IIT Kharagpur remembers one of their most famous alumni – Sundar Pichai, current Google CEO – who graduated from the premier institute’s metallurgical engineering department in 1993, 25 years ago. The list of toppers that hangs on one of the walls in the department, bears his name as the topper of his batch. Indranil Manna, who had been Pichai’s B.Tech thesis guide, still has a copy of his work.

Both professors remember Pichai as “shy, quiet, but extremely intelligent” in class. “He was not diffident, just very focussed, Whenever he was asked something, he was never found wanting. He was always willing to participate in various student activities, especially within the department,” says Manna.

Manna also remembers his “big handwriting”. “If you ask me today whether I had known then that he would be the Google CEO one day, I will say a leader for sure, a thinking man… He was bright, had a star in his eyes,” says Manna.

Manna was in contact with Pichai till he finished his masters from Stanford. “I had expected him to go in for a PhD …” He adds: “If I remember right, he didn’t have beard while he was here. But that apart, he hasn’t changed much.” Over the years, Manna lost touch with Pichai. His next conversation with Pichai was after he had become the Google CEO. “I met another former student, a batchmate of Pichai’s and was enquiring about him and he encouraged me to write to him and assured me he would reply. I was at IIT Kanpur at the time and the students were also keen to have him on the campus for some event. Pichai did reply to my mail, but did not say anything about visiting the campus,” says Manna with a laugh.

Manna was not at IIT Kharagpur when Pichai visited the campus last year. But boarders of Nehru Hall of Residence – the hostel where Pichai had lived as a student – remember the visit well, as do most of those present on campus at the time.

“None of us could interact with him because there was a big crowd surrounding him. But we stood on the stairs and watched him go to his old room,” says third-year civil engineering student Pinaki Mishra. Dulal Kumar Chandra, the librarian at the hostel library, remembers both the visit and Pichai as a student. “As a student, he was always busy with books. You could see that he was intelligent, a good student. When he visited the campus last year, he came to the hostel library too and was happy at the way its been maintained,” says Chandra. From the owner of a store within the hostel to the person who mans the cycle stand there, last year’s visit has refreshed everyone’s memories about the “quiet and well-behaved” former student .

P Simalu, a former member of the mess staff, who retired a few months back, has a treasured memento from that visit hanging on his drawing room wall — a photo with the Google CEO. “He smiled when he saw me and hugged me. I couldn’t understand what he said. He is Tamil and I am Telugu. As a student he knew some Hindi, but I think he has forgotten it now,” he says. “He was a nice boy. He was vegetarian and like food a little sour. He was happy when we served dosa or some other south Indian dish at the mess. He didn’t like things like chana curry too much,” he says with a chuckle.

Neither the professors, nor any of the staff though, remember Pichai’s romance with fellow student Anjali (now his wife), which the Google CEO revealed during his visit last year. But that would be characteristic of the relationship the shy student had with his professors. “Maybe his friends knew,” says Manna, with a smile.The current occupant of Pichai’s old hostel room, Aditya Buridi, says he texted his friends to tell them when it was allotted to him. “They asked me for a treat,” he says with a laugh. The corridors outside have received a fresh coat of whitewash since Pichai’s visit last year. Some of the paint covers the room number painted on the door frame – 309 – in front of which Pichai had so happily posed for photos.

As our media environment blurs, confusion often reigns

A generation ago, the likes of Walter Cronkite, Peter Jennings and Diane Sawyer were the heroes of television news. Now the biggest stars are arguably Sean Hannity and Rachel Maddow.

Notice the difference? Cronkite, Jennings and Sawyer reported the news. Hannity and Maddow talk about the news, and occasionally make it. But you never doubt how they feel about it.

In a chaotic media landscape, with traditional guideposts stripped away by technology and new business models, the old lines between journalism and commentary are growing ever fuzzier. As President Donald Trump rewrites the rules of engagement to knock the media off stride, he’s found a receptive audience among his supporters for complaints about “fake news” and journalists who are “enemies of the people.”

In such a climate, is it any wonder people seem to be having a hard time distinguishing facts from points of view, and sometimes from outright fiction? It’s a conclusion that is driving anger at the news media as a whole. On Thursday, it produced a coordinated effort by a collection of the nation’s newspapers to hit back at perceptions that they are somehow unpatriotic.

“We don’t have a communications and public sphere that can discern between fact and opinion, between serious journalists and phonies,” says Stephen J.A. Ward, author of 10 books on the media, including the upcoming “Ethical Journalism in a Populist Age.”

Not long ago — think back 30 years — the news business had a certain order to it.

Evening newscasts on ABC, CBS and NBC gave straightforward accounts of the day’s events, and morning shows told you what happened while you slept. Newspapers flourished, with sections clearly marked for news and editorial pages for opinion. The one cable network, in its infancy, followed the play-it-straight rules of the big broadcasters. There was no Internet, no social media feed, no smartphone with headlines flashing.

Today, many newspapers are diminished. People are as likely to find articles through links on social media posted by friends and celebrities. Three TV news channels, two with firmly established points of view, air an endless loop of politically laced talk. There’s no easy escape from a 24-hour-a-day news culture.

The internet’s emergence has made the media far more democratic — for good and ill. There are many more voices to hear. But the loudest ones frequently get the most attention. n“No one can control the flow of information across social media and the internet media,” says George Campbell, a 53-year-old business consultant from Chicago. “This has led to a confusion about fact vs. fake. But mostly, it has resulted in a cash cow for conspiracy makers.”

Let’s not neglect the memorable journalism that the Trump era has produced all across the country. Many newspapers are far from “failing,” as Trump often claims about the scoop-hungry shops at The New York Times and The Washington Post. The number of digital subscribers to the Times has jumped from below 1 million in 2015 to more than 2.4 million now.

The cable networks have turned politics into prime-time entertainment, and it’s been both great for business and polarizing: Fox News Channel (from the right) and MSNBC (from the left) are frequently the most-watched cable networks in the country.

For many years, those network executives did a delicate dance. The stations were news during the day, opinion at night. But with the opinion shows so successful — shouting what you believe tends to “pop” more than facts — it has become harder to suppress those identities. Even when different sides are given, the hours are filled with opinionated people giving their takes.

A recent White House briefing illustrates how the Trump administration has plucked examples from the endless talk feed in its campaign against the media. When press secretary Sarah Sanders rebuffed CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s attempt to have her renounce Trump’s attacks on the press, she noted that she’s been attacked personally by “the media” more than once, including by CNN.

Both of Sanders’ references had nothing to do with news reporting, and a lot to do with expressions of opinion. One of them, for example, came from an MSNBC appearance by Jennifer Rubin, a Washington Post columnist paid specifically to give her take on things.

But that kind of distinction blurs when it’s decoupled from the newspaper columns and appears in the wild of social media feeds. “I don’t blame the public for being confused,” said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, communications professor and director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

In a heated news environment, journalists are left to find descriptions for things they haven’t seen before. CNN’s Anderson Cooper called Trump’s performance in a joint news conference with Russia’s Vladimir Putin “disgraceful” after both leaders left a Helsinki stage this summer. For Cooper, it was a moment of truth-telling. For the president’s supporters, it was a brash embrace of bias.

Social Media’s impact on People’s ability/inability to separate what is factual from what is opinion

The Pew Research Center conducted an experiment earlier this year. It presented more than 5,000 adults with five statements of fact and five opinions and asked them to identify which was which. Only 26 percent of respondents correctly identified the five facts, and 35 percent identified the five opinions as such.

The survey suggested that people are in different realities. For instance, 63 percent of Republicans correctly said the statement “Barack Obama was born in the United States” was a fact. Meanwhile, 37 percent of Democrats incorrectly identified the statement “increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour is essential for the health of the U.S. economy” as fact, not opinion.

“Overall, Americans have some ability to separate what is factual from what is opinion,” says Amy Mitchell, Pew’s director of journalism research. “But the gaps across population groups raise caution, especially given all we know about news consumers’ tendency to feel worn out by the amount of news there is these days, and to dip briefly into and out of news rather than engage deeply with it.”

Can the Media Stand Up to Assaults On Reporting?

A contributing factor to confusion is the way news articles often lose their context when spread on Twitter feeds and other social media, Jamieson said. Opinion and news stories live in the same space, sometimes clearly marked, sometimes not.

One Facebook feed, for example, linked to a Los Angeles Times article with the headline, “In a strikingly ignorant tweet, Trump gets almost everything about California wildfires wrong” and gave no indication that it was an opinion piece.

For many people, the editors and news producers who were once media gatekeepers have been replaced by opinionated uncles and old high-school classmates who spend all their time online. Russian trolls harnessed the power of these changes in news consumption before most people realized what was happening. “The truth,” Ward says, “is no match for emotional untruths.”

News organizations have never been particularly good at either working together or telling the public what it is that they do. The first collective effort by journalists to fight back against Trump’s attacks came this week, when a Boston Globe editor organized newspapers across the country to editorialize against them. That collection promptly was assessed by some as playing into Trump’s hands by suggesting collusion on the part of “mainstream media.”

In an ideal world, Ward says, people would have an opportunity to learn media literacy. And he’d have fewer uneasy cocktail party encounters after he meets someone new and announces that he’s an expert in journalism ethics.

“After they laugh, they talk about some person spouting off on Fox or something,” he says. He has to explain: That may be some people’s idea of journalism, but it’s not news reporting.

Prominent cartoonist Satish Acharya quit Mail Today as the editor decided to drop his cartoon on Modi and China. Acharya rose to prominence as a cartoonist for Midday tabloid and enjoys a wide reach among the masses and even politicians. On Sunday, he said in a Facebook post, that has since gone viral, that the editor chose to carry a photo instead of his cartoon titled ‘Claws!’, which showed China’s red dragon talons spreading across South Asia while Modi stands listlessly.

In 2015, Acharya was featured as one among 24 thinkers named by Forbes India as the best India-based intellectuals who are well regarded outside India. His cartoon on the Charlie Hebdo attack was carried by many popular international media houses.

In an interview with Sabrang India, Acharya spoke about the current trend of attacks on journalists, freedom of expression and the BJP IT Cell.

“I don’t know if the editor was influenced by the BJP IT Cell where people monitor the media but I have seen a pattern in editors rejecting cartoons pertaining to cows, lynching, Modi, Amit Shah and more,” he said.

He also said that when he made similar cartoons on the UPA government, something on this scale never happened. “I made many cartoons on the UPA regime when they were in power and something on this scale never happened. The amount of abuse I have received online is nowhere close to some criticism I used to receive back then. Maybe it is because Congress did not have an IT Cell. The attacks are very organised on social media. They pick someone and target them relentlessly. I have blocked so many abusers and reported countless others on Facebook and Twitter, but they come back with different names and id. When you’re living under surveillance state, you’re being watched all the time,” he said.

The Government of India today informed the Supreme Court that it has withdrawn plans for setting up a Social Media Communications Hub. This comes just weeks after the SC had raised concerns about monitoring online data terming the proposal akin to creating a ‘surveillance state’. The apex court had issued a notice to the GOI on a plea by TMC legislator Mahua Moitra.

Facebook Loses $120 Billion On A Single Day’s Stock Plunge, Shattering Faith in Tech Companies’ Invincibility

It had become an article of investor faith on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley: Quarter after quarter, year after year, the world’s biggest technology companies would keep raking in new users and ever-higher revenue. And with that, their share prices would continue to march upward, sloughing off any stumbles.
Last month, that myth was shattered. And investors responded by hammering the stock of Facebook, one of the world’s most valuable companies. Shares of the social media giant fell 19 percent, wiping out roughly $120 billion of shareholder wealth, among the largest one-day destruction of market value that a company has ever suffered.
Investors dumped Facebook shares after the company reported disappointing second-quarter earnings, in which the company warned of a sharp slowdown in sales growth in coming quarters along with rising spending on security and privacy enhancements.
The sudden drop also amounted to a test of the giant, technology-focused stocks that have carried the market for much of the year. Before Facebook’s tumble, more than half the returns in the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index this year had been provided by just a handful of technology-related stocks, said Savita Subramanian, an equity strategist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Facebook Loses $120 Billion On  A Single Day's Stock Plunge, Shattering Faith in Tech Companies’ InvincibilityIn recent years, investors — from individual traders to the world’s largest hedge funds — have snapped up shares in these companies, which include Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google’s parent company, Alphabet. These tech giants were viewed as having nearly unassailable revenue streams that could deliver profit growth regardless of economic conditions.
As a result, their share prices soared. This year alone Apple is up some 15 percent; Alphabet has gained more than 20 percent; Amazon has surged more than 50 percent; and Netflix is up nearly 90 percent.
Facebook’s stumble suggests that some of these stocks — as well as the broader market — could be particularly vulnerable if their financial results don’t live up to investor expectations.
Until Thursday, Facebook was enjoying enormous gains. The stock was up more than 23 percent for the year, before it reported earnings after Wednesday’s close. By Thursday afternoon, all of its gains for the year had vanished.
It was the details of Facebook’s report that seemed to spook investors. The company’s quarterly revenue fell slightly short of meeting the expectations of Wall Street analysts. And executives warned that the company would invest heavily in privacy and security, and that revenue growth would most likely slow in coming quarters.
Still, Facebook’s sharp drop seems to have had a limited effect on the broader market, which has shown signs of gaining traction in recent weeks as companies largely reported strong second-quarter earnings.
It’s quite possible that Facebook’s shares could recover and continue to climb. In March, the company’s handling of user data in the Cambridge Analytica scandal contributed to a backlash against the size and reach of the biggest tech businesses and raised concerns that regulators may soon crack down on these firms. Shares of Facebook fell 17 percent in the days after news broke. By May, the company had erased those losses.
Still, the sheer size of Facebook’s fall on Thursday became a focus for investors. The decline in Facebook’s market value was roughly equivalent to the entire value of some of the country’s best-known companies, including McDonald’s, Nike and the industrial conglomerate 3M.
There are few examples of single-day losses so large. In September 2000, as the tech stock boom turned to bust, the chip maker Intel warned that its sales could slow, sending its stock price down by more than 20 percent. The rout knocked $91 billion off its market value in a day. Adjusted for inflation, that loss would be more than $130 billion in 2018 dollars, greater than the value Facebook lost on a single day last month. But given the vast market value of today’s tech giants, and the fact that 20 percent declines in share prices are not unheard-of, the size of the losses shouldn’t be surprising.

Is your smartphone spying on you?

Some popular smartphone apps may be secretly taking screenshots of your activity and sending them to third parties, a study has found.  This is particularly disturbing because these screenshots – and videos of your activity on the screen – could include usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, and other important personal information, researchers said.
The researchers said this is particularly disturbing because these screenshots—and videos of your activity on the screen—could include usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, and other important personal information.
“We found that thousands of popular apps have the ability to record your screen and anything you type,” said David Choffnes, one of two computer science professors who supervised the study. “That includes your username and password, because it can record the characters you type before they turn into those little black dots.”
The study, which was conducted largely by two students—undergraduate Elleen Pan and doctoral candidate Jingjing Ren—was designed to investigate a persistent urban legend that phones are secretly recording our conversations and then selling that information to companies so they can pepper you with targeted advertisements.
While the researchers found no evidence of recorded conversations, they discovered activity that could be even more dangerous. “We knew we were looking for a needle in a haystack, and we were surprised to find several needles,” said Choffnes.
What they found is that some companies were sending screenshots and videos of user phone activities to third parties. Although these privacy breaches appeared to be benign, they emphasised how easily a phone’s privacy window could be exploited for profit.
“This opening will almost certainly be used for malicious purposes,” said Christo Wilson, a professor at Northeastern. “It’s simple to install and collect this information. And what’s most disturbing is that this occurs with no notification to or permission by users,” said Wilson.
“In the case we caught, the information sent to a third party was zip codes, but it could just as easily have been credit card numbers,” he said.
The researchers analyzed over 17,000 of the most popular apps on the Android operating system, using an automated test program written by the students.
Although the study was conducted on Android phones, researchers said there is no reason to believe that other phone operating systems would be less vulnerable. In all, 9,000 of the 17,000 apps had the potential to take screenshots. “In one case, the app took video of the screen activity and sent that information to a third party,” said Wilson.
That app was GoPuff, a fast-food delivery service, which sent the screenshots to Appsee, a data analytics firm for mobile devices. All this was done without the awareness of app users.
Researchers emphasized that neither company appeared to have any nefarious intent. They said that web developers commonly use this type of information to debug their apps and improve the user experience.
However, that does not mean a malicious company could not use this privacy window to steal personal information for profit.
“That has the potential to be much worse than having the camera taking pictures of the ceiling or the microphone recording pointless conversations. There is no easy way to close this privacy opening,” said.

Is Micro-Cheating Ruining Your Relationship

Infidelity is everywhere. Studies have shown that around 23% of married men and 12% of married women have at some point had sex with someone other than their spouse. But while something like extramarital sex is easy to define, the general concept of cheating is far more nuanced.

A 2015 study, which was published in the Journal of Sexual and Marital Therapy and based on interviews with seven U.K. couples counselors, found that just about anything, from sexting to lying to intercourse, could be considered cheating — or not — depending on a person’s perspective. In the end, the authors concluded that the study “demonstrates the existence of multiple, conflicting definitions of infidelity.”

Further complicating the issue is the latest relationship buzzword: micro-cheating. And there’s a good chance many of us have encountered micro-cheating in our own love lives, By Jamie Ducharme in TIME writes.

Micro-cheating refers to “a set of behaviors that flirts with the line between faithfulness and unfaithfulness,” says Maryland-based couples therapist Lindsey Hoskins. But much like full-blown infidelity, Hoskins says it’s near-impossible to concretely define micro-cheating because “the line is in different places for different people in different relationships.”
Virtually anything, from Tinder swiping for fun to flirting with a cute stranger, could be considered micro-cheating, depending on someone’s values and relationship priorities. But Hoskins says some of the most common transgressions she sees include frequent text or social media communication with a possible flame, regularly talking with an ex-partner and growing too friendly with a co-worker.

At their core, micro-cheating behaviors might not be cause for concern; it’s only when they start to cross a line — either emotionally or physically — that trouble arises. After all, humans are programmed to be on the lookout for potential mates, says Jayson Dibble, an associate professor of communication at Hope College. “It’s hard for me to condemn noticing attractive others,” he says. “That’s just human nature.”

Many times, Dibble says, flirting with someone outside your relationship is harmless, and is more about getting a quick ego boost or dopamine hit than it is about truly being interested in that person. “Research confirms time and time again that even when people are having sex, they’ll fantasize about someone other than their partner,” Dibble adds. “That can be healthy, too, because it keeps you moving. It keeps you virile, it keeps the flames going so you can bring that to your partner.”

Dibble’s research even suggests that people in relationships who keep and communicate with “back-burners” — that is, potential future romantic or sexual partners — might not be compromising their relationships by doing so. He co-authored a 2014 study, published in Computers in Human Behavior, that found no measurable decrease in relationship investment or commitment among romantically involved people who also communicated with back-burners.

But micro-cheating can be a slippery slope, Dibble says. What may start as a harmless text conversation or office friendship can morph into something more, intentionally or not. If outside interactions are starting to take time or mental and emotional energy away from your actual relationship, that’s a sign they might be more serious.

The caveat to Dibble’s study — and to all micro-cheating behaviors — is that your partner might not look so kindly on your actions. Keeping a back-burner (at the office, online or anywhere else) may not decrease your own commitment, but it can certainly make your partner uncomfortable.

Hoskins says that distinction is important. “You can feel differently about it, but it’s a problem for your relationship if it’s a problem for your partner,” she says. “By virtue of having agreed to be in that relationship, you’ve agreed to be sensitive and aware and pay attention to things that bother the other person.”

Proactive communication is key, Hoskins says. Couples should ideally discuss relationship boundaries before they become an issue, which can help prevent fights and resentment from bubbling up later. And that likely means having regular conversations about what’s okay and what’s not, Hoskins says.

“It’s a really good and healthy conversation to have early on in a relationship, but it’s almost impossible to have the conversation once and say, ‘Great, we covered all the bases and we never need to worry about talking about that ever again,’” Hoskins says. “Ideas change. New things come up. It’s an evolution.”

The way you talk about these issues matters, too. If you feel that your partner is doing something wrong, you’ll likely have a more productive conversation by not aggressively confronting them, Hoskins says. “Defensiveness is caused by feeling attacked, so the person who is worried needs to come into the conversation really being conscientious to not attack,” she suggests. If you’re the one accused of micro-cheating, be honest about your behavior, make an effort to listen objectively to your partner’s concerns and consider how you can be more thoughtful in the future.

Finally, Hoskins recommends analyzing why the micro-cheating happened in the first place, and working together to fix whatever may be lacking in your partnership. “Say, ‘Okay, what exactly is it that was appealing about that? What was the feeling you were getting from the behavior or interaction?’” she suggests. “‘If that’s an unmet need in our relationship, can we focus on that? Can we focus on adding that kind of dynamic into our relationship?’”

Akshay Kumar Is World’s 7th Highest-Paid Actor

Akshay Kumar (for the third successive year) has made it to Forbes’ ‘World’s 100 Highest-Paid Entertainers’, and ranks 7th in The World’s Highest-Paid Actors 2018 list, while in the overall Entertainers’ list he is in a tie with Scarlett Johansson, securing the 76th spot with earnings of Rs 270 crore ($40.5 million) this year.

Akshay Kumar may not be a household name in the U.S., but the Indian actor banked $32.5 million in the last year–more than Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Johnny Depp. At 48, he is one of Bollywood’s biggest stars and one of the highest-paid actors in the world, ranking 9th on our annual list.

In the first truly global ranking to examine international actor paychecks, Kumar was one of five Indian leading men to join the list. Fellow Bollywood bigwigs Amitabh Bachchan and Salman Khan ranked at No. 7 with $33.5 million, while Shah Rukh Khan hauled $26 million (No. 18) ahead of Ranbir Kapoor’s $15 million (No. 30).

More than many others, Kumar has a busy filming schedule to thank for his millions as he works on an average of four movies a year. Bollywood’s demand for architectured abs and beefy biceps in its action heroes–no Dad Bods allowed–means Kumar’s exercise regimen remains strict.

Kareena Kapoor Khan has reportedly patched up after some differences with Shah Rukh Khan, and will star opposite him in “Salute,” besides in Karan Johar’s next with Akshay Kumar.

Valentina Corti is cast with Nawazuddin Siddiqui in Tannishtha Chaterjee’s directorial debut, with the actor posting a joint photograph from Rome (where he shot for the film) with the words, “Yeh ladki mere rom rom mein hai (This girl is in every part of me)” as a play on the city’s name.

Disha Patani has sprained both her knees while rehearsing for “Bharat” – she plays a trapeze artiste in the film, and has been advised to avoid too much physical activity and is undergoing physiotherapy currently to recover.

Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas engaged

Actress Priyanka Chopra, 36, and pop singer Nick Jonas, 25, are engaged after two months of dating, the US media has reported amidst news that the former Miss World has opted out of Bollywood film “Bharat” for a “very special” reason.

“Bharat” director Ali Abbas Zafar announced on Twitter that Priyanka is no longer going to be a part of the Salman Khan-starrer movie, and that the decision came in “the Nick of time”, making a clear pun on her relationship with Jonas.

“Yes, Priyanka Chopra is no more part of ‘Bharat’ and and the reason is very very special, she told us in the Nick of time about her decision and we are very happy for her… Team ‘Bharat’ wishes Priyanka Chopra loads of love and happiness for life,” Zafar tweeted.

While neither Priyanka nor Jonas have made an official announcement, US media widely reported about their engagement. quoted a source as saying the couple got engaged on Priyanka’s 36th birthday on July 18 when the two were in London.

Jonas closed down a Tiffany store in New York City to buy an engagement ring, according to the insider. “They are so happy,” the source told

A source close to Jonas said the singer is “very, very happy.”

“His friends and family have never seen him like this, and they’re all really excited for him. He’s definitely very serious about her,” the source added. Priyanka and Jonas have been making several appearances together, often walking hand in hand.

Earlier this year, they walked on the Met Gala red carpet, making everyone wonder whether they are dating. At the Met Gala, Priyanka had just laughed off a romance with Jonas, insisting they simply shared an agent and were friends. She had also said they went to the Met Gala together as they were both wearing ensembles by Ralph Lauren.

Later, they walked arm in arm at Jonas’ cousin’s wedding in New Jersey, apart from being seen roaming around on a boat with friends over America’s Memorial Day weekend in May.

Priyanka was photographed cuddling up to him in a group photograph while they attended a Dodgers baseball game in New York together the same month.

Priyanka was also seen celebrating July 4 — the American Independence Day — with Nick’s family, and Nick visited India last month with the “Quantico” actress to meet her friends and family. The couple had also been sporting similar gold rings.

Offensive NJ Radio Comments Offer Opportunity to Educate

Last week in a radio broadcast, hosts at NJ 101.5 repeatedly referred to New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal as “turban man,” and added, “If that offends you, then don’t wear the turban and maybe I’ll remember your name.” In response to these ignorant comments about Mr. Grewal and the Sikh community, the Sikh Coalition immediately urged for a public apology from the hosts and station, provided media resources on Sikhi for the entire radio station and offered cultural and religious sensitivity training for all staff members. As the station takes our guidance and recommendations, we will provide updates.

The Sikh Coalition’s media and communications rapid response work helped bring local and national attention to the media-amplified offensive language in a climate in which our communities are subject to discrimination, harassment and violence, including news coverage in the Associated PressABC NewsNPR station WHYY, and PIX11. In addition, published Executive Director Satjeet Kaur’s op-ed on turning this incident into an educational opportunity. The station moved to suspend the two hosts and issued a public apology to Mr. Grewal and the Sikh community.

“We applaud the station’s swift action in suspending the two radio hosts while conducting an investigation – not because the action was punitive, but because it sets a precedent for what is not acceptable in our society,” said Executive Director Satjeet Kaur in the op-ed. “This is especially important at a time when racism and xenophobia are becoming increasingly normalized.”

Earlier this year, Mr. Grewal made headlines as the first Sikh attorney general in the United States. His appointment joined a number of Sikhs achieving recent groundbreaking political successes across the United States, including in the states of New Jersey, Washington and California.

“We will continue to do whatever we can to ensure that the radio station is held responsible and that we turn this ugly incident into an opportunity for awareness and education,” said Senior Manager of Policy and Advocacy Sim J. Singh.

The Sikh Coalition continues our tireless work to combat bigotry in all its forms through legal, policy, education, media and community empowerment work.

Globalization, Inequality, Convergence, Divergence

Prof. Kapil Chalil Madathil-led study to help prevent death from viral videos on social media

Kapil Chalil Madathil, an Indian American-led research team at Clemson University in South Carolina, is studying the dangers of viral videos on social that are leading to several deaths including suicides.

Industrial engineering assistant professor Kapil Chalil Madathil and his team of researchers will be analyzing these publicly available videos, from Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, Twitter and YouTube, and will interview those between the ages of 13 and 25 who have participated in these self-harming challenges. According to a press release, the funding for the project will be provided by the National Science Foundation.

Some of these challenges have encouraged participants to do random and weird tasks such as eat laundry detergent, set them on fire and stay awake for 48 hours.

This is the latest attempt to diminish the impact of these viral videos as while they may seem fun to teens, they have become a nightmare for parents as several deaths have occurred around the world.

“This will be the first empirical study to descriptively and critically analyze the content and potential harm posed by social media challenges, as well as identifying the characteristics that may contribute to their viral spread,” Madathil was quoted saying in the press release.

Madathil said the team decided to begin the project after they noticed several instances of self-harm caused from participating in such challenges, thus the project could lead to more research and ultimately to new ways of preventing suicides overall.

Social media sites have also begun to offer help to those who have taken up these self-harming challenges on social media sites.  Twitter, Reddit and YouTube even bring up the phone number for The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

In the first phase of the study, the group from Clemson will collaborate with researchers at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham School of Medicine in Kerala, India as they interview the victims and the second phase of the study will analyze 250 posts from the five social media sites, according to a press release.

Don’t Quit Your Daydreams and Other Advice From Mindy Kaling’s Books

“Let’s go over my plan, shall we?”, said Mindy Kaling into my ear. I was halfway into her second audiobook, “Why Not Me?”, and Ms. Kaling was describing her expectations for the show she was developing.

“My natural assumption was that NBC would put my new show on the air as part of a revitalized ‘Must See TV’ and make 200 classic episodes — no lazy clip shows — finishing with a 90-minute finale that everyone agreed was a sweet and satisfying send-off,” she said. “I would emerge from the show’s legacy as a modern version of Larry David and Mary Tyler Moore, retiring to a tasteful mega-compound on Martha’s Vineyard, where I would write plays and drink wine with Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen at least several times a week.”

The only thing her elaborate daydream didn’t prepare her for? “The slightest setback.”

Ms. Kaling’s books, “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns),” released in 2011, and “Why Not Me?” from 2015, aren’t self-help, but her anecdotes and advice helped ease much of my anxiety as a young professional woman of color.

“Confidence is just entitlement,” said Mindy Kaling in her memoir, “Why Not Me?”CreditKendrick Brinson for The New York Times

“Is Everyone Hanging Out” came out while Ms. Kaling was still playing Kelly Kapoor on “The Office” and includes reflections on her childhood and her early 20s, when she was still living in New York, trying to break into television. “Why Not Me?” is more emotionally candid; Ms. Kaling laments that, in her 30s, she often goes to weddings, which she hates (“when you are a bridesmaid, you are required to be a literal maid for the duration of the wedding”), just to see her friends. In another chapter, she explains her “weird as hell” relationship with B.J. Novak; “B.J. and I are soup snakes,” she said, an “Office” reference to a gaffe by Michael Scott, who misreads “soul mates” in his handwritten note to his love interest, Holly.

I’m also a consummate daydreamer. Just last week, I had one good idea, a snippet of dialogue that I might build a short story around, and my mind spiraled: I flash-forwarded a very realistic two years; my yet-unwritten debut novel had been published to critical and commercial success. The book was optioned for television, and I’d moved to Santa Monica, to an oceanfront apartment with a balcony, where I did all my writing. How I could afford this luxury did not come up.

Real-life trajectories are rarely as neat as the ones you map in your head. NBC, which aired “The Office” and had long been Ms. Kaling’s dream network, passed on her project. “It’s weird when you feel your dream slipping away from you,” said Ms. Kaling, adding the quip, “Especially when you have no other dreams.” Listen to a Sample of Mindy Kaling’s “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)”

When I started applying for jobs, I landed an interview at my dream magazine. For the first time, I was confident in my edit test, because I knew the publication, which caters to a diverse demographic, would see value in my ideas. After meeting with the editors, I was convinced I’d get the job; even more, I thought it was the only job in media I might have a chance of getting. But they didn’t hire me. I had a fixed view of my career, so the deviation felt like a setback.

I ended up at Glamour; Ms. Kaling’s show, on Fox, and later in “Why Not Me?”, after experiencing the whiplash of seeing “The Mindy Project” canceled and immediately picked up by Hulu, Ms. Kaling emphasized the importance of adaptability. She said that’s all show business was: “transitioning panics,” from losing a job to having more work than you can handle; from being afraid your dreams won’t come true to realizing they’ve changed.

In “Why Not Me?”, Ms. Kaling also addressed ambition and her conflicting feelings about wanting to leave “The Office.” “I had a dream job; was I ungrateful to wonder what more there might be for me? Or complacent if I didn’t?”, she asked. “And who was I to try to seek anything better?”

Ms. Kaling joked that she was finally experiencing “white people problems,” because of the privileged position she was in, but her feelings echo the struggle of many women of color in all-white spaces: to convince themselves they’re worthy of their dreams when their environment and society says otherwise. I struggle with this, too, and a recent study found that for people of color, the effects of impostor syndrome — feeling like a fraud in your field despite high achievement — are compounded with discrimination or a lack of representation in the workplace. These factors combined cause higher levels of anxiety and “discrimination-related depression.”

Ms. Kaling advises on dealing with impostor syndrome in the last chapter of “Why Not Me?” She recalls a Q. and A. in Manhattan a year earlier, when a young Indian girl asked her where she gets her confidence from and Ms. Kaling gave a lackluster reply. She reconsiders here, for the sake of “that girl who went out of her way to be vulnerable in front of so many people.”

“Confidence is just entitlement,” she said, adding that, though the word has gotten a bad rap, “Entitlement is simply the belief that you deserve something.” Ms. Kaling’s advice is to earn your confidence by studying your craft and working hard; “I’m usually hyper-prepared for whatever I set my mind to do,” she said, “which makes me feel deserving of attention and professional success.”

But what about the mental barriers to the work itself? I often find myself stuck in a failure loop, my mind sprinting laps around a story, a problem or an idea, to the point of exhaustion. I convince myself a story isn’t good enough before I even start it and am often preoccupied with questions of acceptance, representation and inadequacy. Is the only way to expel that feeling really just to work through it, as Ms. Kaling suggests?

Though in the introduction of “Is Everyone Hanging Out,” Ms. Kaling said she is only “marginally qualified to give advice,” I disagree. It was fun listening to her precipitate the events of her life in her essays. In “Is Everyone Hanging Out” she mentions the Ocean’s franchise when listing movies she’d like to reboot; she co-stars in the women-led version of “Ocean’s 8,” in theaters now. In “Why Not Me?”, she said that she hopes her next book will be about starting a family, as well as her “awesome movie career.” She now has a daughter, Katherine.

Her books teach, in a nutshell, that “it’s cool to want more,” and have helped me stop questioning whether the life I envision for myself is too improbable or far away. Her life is proof that I just might get there. Concepción de León is the digital staff writer for the Books desk at The Times. aSelf-Helped is a monthly column devoted to the books that have changed the way we live.

FIFA World Cup 2018: Shocking Surprises

The curse of the World Cup winners continues. A “shocked” Germany became the third straight reigning champion to be knocked out in the group stage at the next World Cup — following Italy and Spain — after losing 2-0 to South Korea in Group F on Wednesday, June 27th.

In an embarrassingly poor performance Germany went behind in the game’s closing stages when Kim Young-gwon scored following a video review, with Son Heung-min then breaking away — German keeper Manuel Neuer was by this stage in the South Korean half — to add the second.

Other nations that were pushed out of the world cup included Argentina and Portugal, both of them were knocked out of the FIFA World Cup 2018 on Saturday.

Of the six sides most fancied before the World Cup began (Brazil, Germany, Spain, Argentina, Belgium and France), only Belgium and France have had passages in to the knockout stages that were not fraught with tension, vulnerability, moments of being on the very edge of the precipice and hauling themselves back from it.

World soccer stars, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were knocked out of the World Cup on the same day as Argentina and Portugal came unstuck and the illustrious pair failed to break their knockout-stage goal droughts.

Argentina’s 4-3 defeat to France left Messi without a goal in 756 minutes of World Cup knockout football, while Ronaldo failed to find the net as Portugal lost 2-1 to Uruguay, extending his goalless streak outside the group stage to 514 minutes.

Messi provided two assists as Argentina were beaten in a thrilling match in Kazan but he has now appeared in the knockout stages of four World Cups and failed to score in any of them.

Ronaldo was every bit as frustrated as his Barcelona rival after his fruitless attempts to penetrate Uruguay’s defense left him without a World Cup knockout stage goal in his career as he prepared to go home from his fourth World Cup at the age of 33.

Till the 95th minute of Germany’s group game against Sweden, the score remained 1-1. Which meant that the defending champions would be eliminated before the World Cup entered the knockout stage. Germany, one of the favorites, who have won the tournament four times, and have never fallen before the semi final in this century, were on the brink. They had been stunned by Mexico in their first game. And now they were being held 1-1 by Sweden.

Then, of course, Germany did what Germany do best: escapology. Toni Kroos was their Houdini on the night. The champions won 2-1.

But there would be no second Houdini act. In Germany’s final group game against South Korea, the score stayed goalless for 91 minutes. Then South Korea did to Germany what Germany do so often to others. They scored in the dying minutes. Twice. For the first time in 80 years, Germany had been knocked out in the first round of a World Cup.

Two-time champions Argentina, having drawn with Iceland and been thumped by Croatia, were four minutes away from being knocked out till salvation arrived in the form of a Marcos Rojo goal.

Spain, champions in 2010, and a frontrunner for this year’s title, scraped through against Iran and were held 2-2 by Morocco en route to qualifying for the next stage.

Russia shocked Spain in a down-to-the-wire finish by outlasting them in penalty kicks, ousting one the World Cup favorites in the Round of 16. The 1-1 draw (4-3 in PKs) marks the first time Russia has reached the quarterfinals of the World Cup since 1970, when it was known as the Soviet Union.

Spain, which was a favorite to win the tournament, came out strong with a goal off Russia’s Sergei Ignashevish’s foot, but then evened the match with a goal of his own.

After the match went back and forth into extra time, Russian goalie Igor Akinfeev came up huge with two saves in penalties, denying Spain its chance to another World Cup title.

A series of shock upsets have rocked the 2018 World Cup to its core and Japan looked like adding another to the tally as it went up 2-0 early in the second half against Belgium. But Belgium launched a stunning comeback that culminated in Nacer Chadli scoring the winner with the last kick of the game to win 3-2.

Neymar, voted man-of-the-match, was stopped by Tite afterwards as he was about to reply to reporters’ demands to clarify the incident.

Tite was adamant: “They stepped on him. I saw it on the screen.” Neymar attempted to play down the incident.

“Look, I think it’s more an attempt to undermine me than anything else,” said the Brazilian. “I don’t care much for criticism, or praise, because this can influence your attitude.

“In the last two matches I didn’t talk to the press because I don’t want to I just have to play, help my teammates, help my team.

“I’m here to win. I can always improve. Today I feel much better and I’m very happy for this win.”

Belgium came back from two goals down to win an extraordinary game, and a place in the quarter-finals, with two seconds of stoppage time to play on a thriller on July 2nd. Similarly, favorites Mexico went down to Brazil by losing by 2:00 in the knock out round held on July 2nd.

Neymar’s strike and a late second from Roberto Firmino saw a strangely low-key Brazil edge past Mexico 2-0 to book a spot in the World Cup quarter-finals.

Tite’s men are yet to hit full stride at Russia 2018, and on this evidence they still have more to come, but Neymar’s 51st-minute goal and Firmino’s tap-in after coming off the bench means the tournament favourites progressed with relative comfort in the end,and avoided the early exit that has already befallen the likes of Spain, Germany and Argentina.

Mexico were the dominant force in the opening 20 minutes in Samara, but they were unable to make their superiority count and eventually allowed their muted opponents to scrap their way into the game.

5 dangerous social media habits you must quit

What started as innocent online phenomenon has ended up being the lifeline for everyone on the Internet. Social media is, of course, fun and a great way to stay connected to people. However, the pressure to be popular or viral has made people do illogical things just to grab attention. The risks of oversharing on social media are simply way more than what meets the eye.

Users often unknowingly share information about their exact location – exposing another layer of personal information – because they are confident of their online safety. Hackers have proven otherwise, stealing $172 billion from 978 million consumers in 20 countries in the past year, according to the global 2017 Norton Cyber Security Insights Report.

June 30 is marked as ‘Social Media Day’ and while you would want to celebrate this on your TwitterFacebook, Snapchat or Instagram accounts, here are five dangerous habits you must quit to avoid being victims of stalking, cyber-bullying, identity theft or simply getting trolled, as per Norton.

Sharing everything with everybody is not a clever thing to do. All social media sites give the option to limit post viewing to specific audiences. Take the time to explore these settings, try different options to suit the best privacy setting. For instance, both Facebook and Twitter let you create custom lists of people who are allowed to view specific posts. As you get better at using the privacy settings, bear in mind that not all privacy settings “translate” between websites. For instance, some Facebook users have reported that photographs they set to “private” on Facebook were still indexed publicly in Google Image Search—and could be found by searching for their names. If you don’t want it found publicly, simply don’t post it.

Years ago, social media users competed with one another to have the largest number of connections. Today, however, smart users know that the more people you are connected to, the harder it is to control what happens to the information you post. Make sure you know the people you add on social media, in real life if possible. Don’t hesitate to use the “block” feature when the situation seems to call for it.

“Social engineering” involves attackers using whatever information they can glean from your public profiles – date of birth, education, interests – to try to get into your accounts on all sorts of services. Just imagine how easily someone can find out the name of your first pet or school from your social media profile, then think about how many services use them as security questions. Keep as much of your profile private as you can and think twice before posting every aspect of your life online.

If you are using a public computer, make it a ritual to log out—and log out of private devices from time to time as well. Logging out helps ensure that other people won’t snoop your social media profile and use it to attack your friends, change your personal information to embarrassing or slanderous comments, or worse, change your password and lock you out of your own account entirely.

It’s a pain, but it is also absolutely essential that you don’t use the same password for Twitter as you do for, say, Facebook, Instagram and other social media websites. Using a single password makes it easy for hackers, as gaining access to one means gaining access to all – and imagine how painful it will be when you find you’re locked out of your entire online life. When you use one password for multiple services, you’re only as safe as the least secure service you use.

Irrfan Khan, Sridevi win top honors at IIFA 2018

Bollywood actor Irrfan Khan and late veteran actress Sridevi were named the Best Actors at the 19th edition of the IIFA Awards, for their remarkable work in films “Hindi Medium” and “Mom”, respectively. The award function also honored late actors Vinod Khanna, Shashi Kapoor and Sridevi. Veteran actor Anupam Kher was honored with the Outstanding Achievement award.

At a grand event on Sunday here at the Siam Niramit theatre, a story of an ambitious and enterprising housewife, “Tumhari Sulu” bagged the Best Picture honour, while Saket Chaudhary took back the Best Director Award.

Late Sridevi’s husband-producer Boney Kapoor took the award for her performance in “Mom”. He was emotional as he received the award from actress Kriti Sanon. “I dedicate this award to the entire team of ‘Moma’,” said an emotional Boney.

Vinod’s award was accepted by veteran filmmaker Ramesh Sippy. Rishi Kapoor took Shashi Kapoor’s award. While actor Anil Kapoor and Boney broke down in tears while talking about Sridevi at the gala.

“I have mixed emotions today. I miss her every minute and second of my life. I still feel she is around here….I want you all to support Janhvi like you supported her mother…” said a teary eyed Boney.

“It is a great feeling when your own peers celebrate your achievements and as I have been saying, this is just the interval point of what I am doing and my seconds half of journey starts now. It started with my 500th film….I told myself this is the interval point with The Big Sick and after that I have done 15 films in the last one year both international and national,” Anupam told the media.

The 2000-seater Siam Niramit theatre saw thousands of Bollywood fanatics coming to the event to catch a glimpse of their favourite stars. A string of A-listers like Ranbir Kapoor, Varun, Arjun, Kriti Sanon, Bobby Deol and Shraddha set the stage on fire with their power packed and electrifying performances.

Varun danced on numbers like “Sau Tarah Ke”, “Tama Tama,” and “High Rated Gabru”. Bobby danced with Romanian TV presenter and singer Iulia Vantur on numbers like “Gupt Gupt, “Soldier soldier”, “Tera Rang Balle Balle” and tracks from his latest release “Race 3”. Kriti, Arjun and Shraddha also danced to tracks from their films respectively.

Shah Rukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit Among Indian Invitees of Oscar Academy’s Class of 2018

Shah Rukh Khan, Soumitra Chatterjee, Naseeruddin Shah, Tabu, Madhuri Dixit, Ali Fazal and Anil Kapoor, apart from producers Aditya Chopra and Guneet Monga, as well as music artistes Usha Khanna and Sneha Khanwalkar are among the Indians invited to be a part of the Oscar Academy’s Class of 2018.

The announcement was made on Monday on the official website of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The new invitees are an effort on the Oscar-giving body to include more women, people of color and international filmmakers.

“Dangal” editor Ballu Saluja, costume designers Manish Malhotra and Dolly Ahluwalia, cinematographer Anil Mehta, actress Madhabi Mukherjee, production designers Subrata Chakraborthy and Amit Ray are also a part of the list.

Ali Fazal, who featured with Judi Dench in “Victoria and Abdul,” tweeted: “So so humbled to be included with the greats. Thank you The Academy for this membership. I look forward to this friendship for a long long time.Sending my love from India.”

Monga, known for producing “The Lunchbox” and “Masaan,” wrote on Instagram: “Honoured to have been invited to become a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Class of 2018 !!!!! Thank you The Academy.”

The Academy extended invitations to a record 928 artistes and executives who have distinguished themselves by their contributions to theatrical motion pictures across the world. Those who accept the invitations will be the only additions to the Academy’s membership in 2018, read a statement.

Among the invitees, 17 are Oscar winners, while 92 are Oscar nominees, including Timothee Chalamet and Daniel Kaluuya. Forty-nine percent of the class of 2018 are female, and, should all accept membership, that will bring overall percentage of women in the Academy to 31 percent.

Thirty-eight percent of the new invitees are people of color, which, should they all accept, would bring their overall percentage of the Academy to 16 percent, according to

Tiffany Haddish, Kal Penn, Kumail Nanjiani, Blake Lively, Dave Chappelle, Mindy Kaling, George Lopez, Amy Schumer, Sarah Silverman, Evan Rachel Wood, Naveen Andrews, Melissa Etheridge, Jada Pinkett Smith, Kendrick Lamar and J.K. Rowling are among the popular names on the list which ranges from actress Quvenzhane Wallis, who, at age 14, is the youngest, to composer Sofia Gubaidulina, who, at 86, is the oldest.

Anukreethy Vas crowned ‘Miss India World 2018’

Anukreethy Vas, a 19-year old beautiful and talented young woman from Tamil Nadu, triumphed over 29 contestants from all over India to clinch the ‘Femina Miss India World 2018’ title on Tuesday, last week. She was crowned by Miss World 2017 Manushi Chhillar, who brought home the coveted ‘Miss World’ crown the first time since 2000.

Vas, raised by a single mother, was crowned at a star-studded grand finale of the beauty contest on June 19 night at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Indoor Stadium in Mumbai. Meenakshi Chaudhary, 21, from Harayana was declared the first runner-up, while Andhra Pradesh’s Shreya Rao Kamavarapu , 23, became the second runner-up in the annual beauty pageant.

A student of Chennai’s Loyola College, Vas is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in French to become an interpreter, but she works closely with an NGO for the education of transgenders – a cause close to her heart. She wishes to become a supermodel as she loves facing the camera, but Bollywood is not her focus right now. Her eyes are set on winning the Miss World crown for India again, Vas told IANS over phone from Mumbai.

Anukreethy Vas crowned ‘Miss India World 2018’The Femina Miss India show saw participants proving their aptitude by facing some tricky questions from the judges’ panel, which included Bobby Deol, Kunal Kapoor, Malaika Arora, fashion designer Gaurav Gupta and cricketer Irfan Pathan, along with Chhillar.

Talking about Miss India 2018, Manushi had earlier said, “I think there is no set formula and there is no one path that can be taken to the crown as every one has their own way. Even when you look at past winners of Miss World, everyone was unique. So you can’t give a set example but all I can tell them is to learn as much as they can and be themselves…We do have a lot of expectations from India. It’s going to be a tough one for whosoever wins.”

The event was hosted by Bollywood filmmaker Karan Johar and actor Ayushmann Khurrana. Bollywood was prominently present at the grand finale, as Jacqueline Fernandez set the stage on fire by shaking a leg on “Desi Girl.”

Dancing diva and actress Madhuri Dixit Nene performed a beautiful dance number during the India round, with her co-dancers presenting various forms of Indian classical dance. She also hummed a few lines from her latest Marathi release, “Bucket List,” during an interaction with the hosts. Kareena Kapoor Khan looked ravishing in her stage performance on “Tareefan” from her latest film, “Veere Di Wedding.”

All the selected participants were groomed by Neha Dhupia, Rakul Preet Singh, Pooja Chopra and Pooja Hegde. The organizing team of the beauty pageant toured all 30 states of the country, including Delhi, and crowned one representative from each state, all aspiring for the coveted Miss India crown.

Anukreethy Vas will now represent India at Miss World 2018 while the two runners-up will represent the country at Miss Grand International 2018 and Miss United Continents 2018 respectively.

FIFA World Cup kicks off in Russia – Proved to be most shocking, surprising to worldwide fans

The World Cup kicked off in Russia on Thursday as the host nation take on Saudi Arabia in front of 80,000 people in Moscow after President Vladimir Putinofficially declared the tournament open.

Russia is spending more than $13 billion (11 billion euros) on hosting football’s showpiece, the most important event in the country since the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics. The buildup has been dogged by controversy and diplomatic scandals and shone a light on the challenges facing Putin’s Russia.

On the day of the curtainraiser, Russia freed the main opposition figure to Putin, Alexei Navalny, from jail after he served a 30-day sentence for organising an illegal protest. The completely refurbished Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow hosts the opening match, against the two lowest-ranked sides in the tournament.

Excitement has been steadily building in Moscow, with thousands of Saudi fans in green and white arriving in the city for the match. British pop star Robbie Williams performed at the opening ceremony at the Luzhniki.

Since its creation, the FIFA World Cup™ has always thrown up shock results and surprise heroes. The history of the tournament is littered with the names of unlikely stars and games in which underdogs have stood tall to cut supposedly superior opposition down to size.

After four days of games, the FIFA World Cup is already shaping up to be more exciting than many hoped. Some of the biggest teams in the tournament have underperformed, with a handful of shock results that should mix up the rest of the group games.

  1. Russia thrashes Saudi Arabia

One of the biggest shocks so far happened on the opening day of the tournament, when the lowest-ranked team in the competition took the top spot in their group with a huge five-goal lead. Opening their home tournament in Moscow, Russia dominated Saudi Arabia, scoring three goals in ordinary time, then almost doubling their lead with two injury time shots.

Russia were the dominant team mainly because Saudi Arabia were a slow and lumbering side, but the start gave the hosts a boost, and much greater potential for getting out of the group with such a huge goal difference. Vladimir Putin will be pleased.

  1. The defending champions Germany lose to Mexico

The current World Cup holders went into the tournament among the favorites to win and they were expected to beat inconsistent Mexico in their opening match in the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow. Yet Juan Carlos Osorio’s team was lively and hardworking against Germany, with Hirving Lozano scoring on the counter attack in the 35th minute, and the whole team keeping up a strategy of counter attacking after German chances.

Germany had 26 shots in total but couldn’t manage to put any away — in part thanks to an outstanding performance by Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, who made several vital saves, including in the last minutes. His performance also became the subject of memes shared across social media comparing him to President Donald Trump’s promised border wall.

  1. Brazil’s superstars fail to topple the Swiss

With a squad of stars — including the most expensive club player in the world, Neymar — Brazil were expected to make relatively light work of their group. Despite Philippe Coutinho scoring one of the goals of the tournament so far, Brazil were held to a tie by Switzerland thanks to Steven Zuber’s goal in the 50th minute.

The match has gone down badly back in Brazil, with some pundits on ESPNsaying Neymar should’ve been taken off in the second half for selfish play. Others, including Brazil’s coach, felt the Swiss goal came as a result of a push, and that Neymar had been unfairly fouled by the Swiss team—there were a total of 10 fouls on him in total.

But the result should perhaps not have been a great surprise. Switzerland is ranked as sixth best team in the world, and they lost only one match in their World Cup qualifiers, to Portugal.

  1. Iceland’s underdog dreams bear fruit against Argentina

A more surprising tie was between Argentina, the two-time champions and 2014 finalists, and Iceland, a team taking part in its first ever World Cup. Though Argentina had 78% of the possession, Iceland defended hard and played a strong game. When Sergio Aguero scored in the 13th minute, it looked as if it could be Argentina’s afternoon, but Iceland responded four minutes later, when Alfreo Finnbogason scored Iceland’s first ever World Cup goal, putting away a poor clearance by goalkeeper Willy Caballero.

Raj Shah may soon exit the White House, says CBS

Two of the most visible members of the Trump administration are planning their departures, the latest sign of upheaval in a White House marked by turmoil. The Principal Deputy Press Secretary to President Donald Trump, Raj Shah, and Press Secretary, Sarah Sanders, are planning to leave their respective positions at the White House, according to CBS News.

CBS News reported that sources inside the White House have confirmed the departures as Sanders plans to leave by the end of the year and Shah hasn’t given an exact date yet. Shah, 33, was temporarily filling the position of Sanders when she had gone on a long, well deserved vacation.

Shah was born and raised in Connecticut and attended Cornell University where he became politically active. Shah interned in the Bush White House in the summer of 2005 and after he graduated, he was working in the research wing of the Republican National Committee. He joined the White House the day President Trump took office, where he was made the deputy communications director and research director.

Sanders, on the other hand, has tweeted “Does @CBSNews know something I don’t about my plans and my future? I was at my daughter’s year-end Kindergarten event and they ran a story about my “plans to leave the WH” without even talking to me. I love my job and am honored to work for @POTUS.”

Several other lower-level positions in the communications department left vacant in recent weeks are likely to remain unfilled, with more departures expected in the coming weeks, according to a former official.

Numerous staffers have left the White House over the last several months, some voluntarily and others having been forced out. Those departures include Hicks; Jared Kushner’s top communications aide, Josh Raffel; homeland security adviser Tom Bossert; National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton; Trump personal aide John McEntee; director of White House message strategy Cliff Simms; communications aide Steven Cheung; congressional communications director Kaelan Dorr; assistant press secretary Natalie Strom; and deputy director of media affairs Tyler Ross.

“There will be even more people leaving the White House sooner rather than later, laid off or just leaving out of exhaustion. And it is going to be harder to find good people to replace them,” a source close to the administration told CBS News. “I do think they’re going to have a harder time getting the second wave of people in than the first, because those people were loyalists, and [new] folks will have to be recruited and encouraged and then survive the vetting process. In addition to all of that, the president prefers to have a small communications staff.”

Meher Tatna Re-elected President of Hollywood Foreign Press Association

Journalist Meher Tatna has been re-elected president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for the 2018-2019 year. Tatna, who oversaw the successful 75th edition of the Golden Globes, ran unopposed. The Indian American executive had succeeded outgoing president Lorenzo Soria in June 2017.

Tatna will preside over the group’s annual Golden Globe Awards, co-produced with Dick Clark Productions, with the 76th version set for January, according to Deadline.

Tatna was first elected to her post last June. She has previously served as a HFPA vice president, treasurer and executive secretary.  She is still an active contributor to India’s The New Paper.

The returning official made headlines in January when she attended her first Golden Globes ceremony wearing red, on a night when Hollywood women almost unanimously chose to wear black in recognition of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.

“While the president [of the HFPA] stands with and supports Time’s Up, she wore the dress that she chose with her mother. As part of her Indian culture, it’s customary to wear a festive color during a celebration,” an individual familiar with her thinking told TheWrap at the time.

This year’s election also named former HFPA president Lorenzo Soria as chairman of the board, which consists of Luca Celada, Helen Hoehne, Ruben Nepales, Kirpi Uimonen Ballesteros and Yoram Kahana.

Tatna was born in Mumbai, India, and moved to the U.S. where she received a degree in economics from Brandeis University in Massachusetts. She has been a member of the HFPA since 2002 and has served in its administration for the past 12 years, including as vice president (2015-2017), treasurer (2007-2009, 2013-2015), and executive secretary (2005-2007, 2009-2011).

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is a group of international journalists based in Southern California who distribute news about television and film to publications around the world. The members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association represent some 55 countries with a combined readership of more than 250 million. Their publications include leading newspapers and magazines in Europe, Asia, Australia/New Zealand and Latin America.

In Defense of the Long-Distance Relationship

It appears absence does make the heart grow fonder in 2018. The Economist reports that “about 3.9 million married Americans aged 18 and over live apart from their spouses, up from around 2.7 million in 2000″—for many, out of financial necessity. But at Traveler, where about three-quarters of our staff has been in—or is in—a long-distance relationship, we think there’s a lot to be said for the flight-fight-and-FaceTime routine. Here are our lessons learned from years of transatlantic trips, Skype sessions, and airmail sent, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

About six weeks after my now-husband A. and I met on a blind date, I moved to Paris. I’d bought a one-way ticket in the weeks after breaking up with my longtime college boyfriend and before my boss set me up with her former assistant. (She was getting sick of my red eyes and puffy face.) My plan was to stay in France indefinitely, and I would get a job working for the Herald Tribune like Jean Seberg in Breathless (with a happier ending). There would be an attic apartment in St. Germain and Sundays spent reading Gertrude Stein on a bench by the quais. I would be a free agent. And so, tearfully—after an accelerated courtship and promise to see how things developed—I left.

Because this was in the stone age before the Internet and cell phones, 3,600 miles might as well have been 100,000. We did what people did back then to stay in touch. A. wrote letters on crinkly blue airmail stationery. Nearly every day. (I lacked both his discipline and frankly his charming logorrheic tendencies.) Long distance calls were expensive, but sometimes I called A. to wake him up for work

(he’s really not a morning person) and he would call before I fell asleep. In those conversations, a high-pitched beep ticking off the time (and money) draining down the telephone line, we endured the jangling syncopation of long-distance communication via France Telecom of the 1990s, with its tinny echoes and audio delays. (Saying “I love you” to each other—something that still felt a little awkward since our romance was, in actual in-person hours, still pretty new—could be an especially ludicrous exchange of overlapping interjections. “I love…” UNINTELLIGIBLE STATIC “What?” BEEP “- you! “I love you too!”) I came back to New York after a year to renew my work visa. (I’d struck out at the Herald Tribune but eventually landed a job at an ad agency, where a colleague offered to rent me her fiancé’s attic apartment in St. Germain!) A. visited me two or three times, and we’d rent a car and explore a different corner of France—Normandy, Provence, Alsace. One April we ran the Paris marathon, each beating our PR’s, and wobbled home over a dusky Pont des Arts wrapped in mylar blankets.

Each one of those reunions convinced us we were great together. And also convinced us that I should stay in Paris as long as I felt I needed to. Being single in the city was a dream I’d had forever—or at least since high school French class. And I’d be lying if I didn’t admit there were some benefits that accrue to a single woman in a city where chivalry still animates customary male behavior—let’s just say that I ate very well, at restaurants that I could never have afforded myself, and became pretty well acquainted with both the Paris and Bastille Opera Houses. I knew I’d resent A. if I aborted the plan for him. He recognized it even more.

Finally, after close to two years, I was ready to come home. The ad agency where I worked had been acquired. The winter was oppressively cold and dank. (Fact: It rains as much in Paris as it does in London.) My smoking habit had gone from reluctant second-hand inhalation to sucking down several Rothman Rouges a day. I craved take-out salad bars and fro-yo and a decent neighborhood gym. And I missed A.

Fifteen years later, we returned to Paris with our three children. We stood on the Pont des Arts (which at the time was covered in locks left there by selfie-snapping couples) and told the kids the story they’d heard many times before, but now at least they could picture the scenery. Then we bought a lock at a nearby store (clearly supplying the touristic habit) and locked one on together. Sebastian Modak: It’s painful, frustrating, totally maddening… but you get to see the world.

The trouble with falling in love in April of your senior year in college is that one month later, everything changes. Suddenly, flung out of your protective four-year bubble, you’re an adult, and have to do adult things, like find gainful employment. That’s the situation that Maggie and I found ourselves in eight years ago, as we queued up to receive our diplomas on a football field in Philadelphia. She was heading to New Orleans; I was making the trek north to the icescape of Boston.

For two years, we kept things going, and it sure wasn’t easy—anyone who says otherwise of long-distance relationships is a liar or just unrealistically good at life. Watching my meager paycheck disappear between rent every month and flights to MSY every other month; the constant phone tag; the endless loop of play-by-play “How was your day?” phone calls, when both of us really just wanted to be able to go for a Sunday walk together. Much of it—perhaps most of it—really, really sucked.

But, with hindsight comes nuance, and I’ve come to realize that the long-distance relationship actually has some serious positives. I spent those years effectively having not one, but two hometowns. I came to love New Orleans, almost as much as I would if I’d been living there. I knew when to go where for live music (the Maple Leaf on Tuesday nights, anywhere Washboard Chaz is performing); I watched the Krewe du Vieux floats and understood inside jokes poking fun at city politicians. I joined a handful of Second Lines, and complained vocally about Bourbon Street just like a local.

Plus, being separated by over a thousand miles, we were able to make our own lives, find our own friends, develop our own interests—do all those typical early-20s things that are often stifled when you move somewhere new with someone you love, and have none of that pressure to get outside and be social. If we weren’t visiting each other, we’d meet somewhere new—let’s do Austin this month, Montreal the next.

Of course, we were both relieved when Maggie moved to the Boston area for graduate school—at least temporarily. When I left for a year in Botswana just six months after Maggie landed in Logan, ready to move into an apartment a bike ride away from me in Cambridge, it wasn’t ideal. And I wouldn’t recommend anyone go through back-to-back long-distance stints, especially when the latter one is about 6,000 miles farther away and made all the worse by shoddy Internet connections and the complete financial infeasibility of regular visits. But, hey, here we are now, not just in the same city, but the same damn apartment. So, take that naysayers. Long distance can work and, if the timing’s right, even make a relationship stronger.

Like most Londoners who wind up in New York, I fell in love with the city fast and hard. Then, of course, I fell in love with an American in very much the same way, returned to London indefinitely, and promptly made my life a thousand times more complicated.

Our now six-and-a-half-year relationship has been mapped between cities and continents. Our first date (and first fight) was in the West Village. Our favorite restaurant is in Fort Greene, but our favorite bar is in Notting Hill. Over the years, we’ve become intimately familiar with the euphoria of an airport arrival (it restores your faith in humanity), and the anguish of airport departures (which only gets worse over time). I quickly grew to hate Skype, but also became an expert flier, conducting my journey from Heathrow’s Terminal Five to JFK’s Terminal Seven like a military operation.

Of course, no one can emotionally withstand (or afford) being long-distance forever and four years ago, we put an end to our constant back and forth across the Atlantic and got married at City Hall in Manhattan. Walk in on any given day and you’ll find a cross-section of every type of New Yorker, hailing from every part of the world—from the Bronx to Beirut. You’ll see brides in giant, meringue-like dresses alongside couples on their lunch break and grooms in matching tuxes. There’s a souvenir stand and a gloriously tacky backdrop for photos. And if you get hungry (nerves will do that) you can pop outside and grab a hot pretzel from the cart. You want to understand what New York is all about? Swing by City Hall on a Friday morning.

A transatlantic relationship has allowed us to share more than one place; more than one culture. I now get to spend Thanksgivings in Pennsylvania (a novelty that, honestly, will never cease to amaze me) and he gets to spend Christmases in London. I get to slam whiskey shots in Brooklyn dive bars, and he gets to pound Guinness in East London pubs. In the summer, we’ll spend all day at Rockaway Beach in Queens, and in the winter, we’ll freeze our butts off on Brighton Beach in Sussex. We’ve walked Central Park and Hyde Park, and fallen asleep on a 3 a.m. subway ride and the last Tube home.

And last year, we got to go to Istanbul with my British mother and Turkish father, snacking on simit, sailing along the Bosphorus, and enjoying all the perks that come along when marriages cross borders. A long-distance relationship can open your eyes and your heart, and even at its lowest points—which can feel pretty low when there’s 3,459 miles between you—is always worth the trouble when you’ve found the right person.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but when I first meet someone and do the small talk dance, I feel myself pulling back the moment the conversation speeds toward the seemingly harmless: “Are you dating anyone?”

I’ve been in my relationship for four years. We’ve lived in as many countries together, and our shared love of travel has meant there’s never a dull moment. We’re also from different countries, met while we were both expats in another, and between the thrill of living and falling in love abroad, there’s no shortage of emotions that flood my mind when asked about Henry. However, over the last two years, we’ve done a lot of long distance: unconventional long distance.

There’s always a delay as my brain searches for the words to send to my mouth: Yes, I’m dating someone. Actually, we’re in a long-distance relationship. No, I don’t get to see him a lot. We used to travel full time—he still does. He’s in Indonesia right now, but not sure where next. You’re right, it is hard. No, you’re right, it is worth it, thanks. Each response is delivered with appropriate doses of shrugging, head tilting, and faint smiling on my end, because I don’t know what else to do. All to which the other person usually furrows their brow, waiting to hear something they relate to, which usually doesn’t come.

I wish I could describe the overwhelming emotion of boarding a plane, knowing the person I love most—and have, lately, seen the least—is waiting at the other end; how no other travel rush has managed to compete. I want to explain how everything feels simultaneously old and new; how being forced to repeatedly confront the question of, ‘Is it worth it?’ gives you the constant reassurance that it is. I wish I knew how to explain our transcontinental relationship without having to explain it.

I’ve come to accept that the distance between us sounds crazy to many, and without launching into a sappy soliloquy about why it is so worth it, I have to just let it sound as it may—and not let other people’s uncertainty about it become my own.

When I was 15, I met the guy (okay, boy) who, absent my immediate family, would become the single, consistent thread throughout my life. He sat diagonally across from me in English class, in the front row, and had a haircut that might be charitably described as “questionable.”

Almost a decade later, that guy with the bowl cut and I are still going strong; so strong, in fact, that we’ve just moved into our first place together. As in any long-term relationship, though, our union has ebbed and flowed precariously over the years, through high school drama, college transfers, illnesses, and even deaths; though I don’t think anything has tested us more than my four-month semester abroad in Paris, which I took during our junior year of college.

When you’re with someone for as long as we’ve been—at the time I left for the Sorbonne, we’d already racked up five long, angsty years—you start to feel dependent on them, and the phantom limb-sensation is magnified ten-fold when you’ve endured puberty together. (Embarrassingly, I always liken our relationship to two saplings, planted around the same time: We dug our roots together, and for better and worse, they became intertwined as they grew.) Who I was, independent of my relationship, had become uncomfortably blurry somewhere along the way, and it took four long, occasionally lonely months to bring that self back into focus.

Despite our coordinated Skype sessions—I’d call him at midnight, my time, 6 p.m., his time—he wouldn’t always answer, and I’d feel incredibly alone in my adopted city. (Paris is not, after all, known for being cuddly, particularly to foreigners). After a while, though, I learned to put down my computer and my phone, and to stop waiting for the familiar ring. Instead, I’d stroll over to the Antoine Bourdelle museum, or pop into a bakery and savor a flaky mille-feuille. Instead of picking up my phone immediately to report what I’d seen as I saw it, I’d take time to sit on it, to think about it, to let my own opinions rattle around in my brain for a while. Having space gave me back my independence, and reminded me of how much I enjoyed my own company. It also taught me to live in real time—to accept the invitations to parties and dinners, to take last-minute day trips to wine country—and not to wait around for a Skype call that would probably mostly consist of nodding heads and “Miss you’s, miss you too’s” in a scene that too closely resembled a Stephen Chbosky novella. Social media has made it unbelievably hard to detach in that way—in fact, I wish I’d spent even more time gallivanting around and less time lying around listlessly.

The worst, though, was my 21st birthday—a big milestone, here in the U.S.—which I spent in Madridwith a few random girls I’d met from my program. He spent that day winning an NCAA fencing tournament, and forgot to call. Five years on, I can still remember how hollow (and furious) I felt when I had to call him and say, “Excuse me, it’s my birthday.” But hindsight is helpful, calming, and hopefully brings wisdom. Here’s what I’ve learned: You have to be okay with being alone, at least once in a while. If the other person is worth it, they’ll be around when you get back—and they’ll be happy for you. Learn to appreciate your own company. Say yes to things—it’s way better than FOMO. And sometimes, you can (and should) be really, really happy for someone else—even if it isyour birthday.

To be honest, when I first met Adam about three and a half years ago, I kind of thought he was a prick. He wasn’t mean—he was just very straight-forward, blunt. (He’s a New Yorker!) Our friends were trying to set us up, but neither of us were into it: He was moving to Colorado in a month and had gotten out of a bad relationship, and I was seeing this other guy. We didn’t even exchange numbers that night at dinner.

But apparently there was something there. He got my number from my friend and two days later sent me a text that just said: 15 EAST, 8:30. Period. Not even a question mark. Bold, right? I kind of liked it. So I decided to go to dinner with him—the thing with the other guy wasn’t going anywhere—and we bonded over food. He was very good at planning the dates, making the moves. We never talked about him leaving; we were having fun and both kind of like, whatever, if we see each other, we see each other. We left it open.

Then I left for a two-week vacation in Italy to visit my family and friends; he was supposed to leave for Denver before I got back. In the middle of the trip, he tells me he pushed his start date because he had other things to take care of (in reality it was to see me one more time) and when I came back he picked me up at the airport. (He was literally moving—his house was just a mattress.) We stayed one night and he left the next day. It was the beginning of a year and a half of long distance.

When I think of that time now, it seems like a vacation. He would come back from Denver every week or two weeks, but it was—or at least felt—casual, carefree, and easy. We were not only going back and forth; being long distance was also the perfect excuse to take time off and visit new places. That’s the fun part: You enjoy every single moment of it. Not taking things too seriously was the key to dealing with the distance—I would have felt too much pressure and run away otherwise, and he knew that.

Eventually, though, the fun part started to fade. I wanted someone I could go to the cinema with, cook dinner with. I felt alone sometimes. We had started dating so quickly, and then a month later, he left. We never had that day-to-day routine together. So we started to wonder, should we break up and see if life brings us back together? But at the end of the day, we would always end up booking a flight to see each other.

I was back in Italy after about a year and a half and I thought about breaking up with him—just doing it, for both our sakes. Then out of the blue, he called to say he was coming to New York. To live. I’d had no idea! He had found a way to start his own business and freelance, and didn’t want to tell me until it was certain; he didn’t want to get my hopes up. Two weeks later, he was home. We’ve been together three and a half years now. I love Adam, so much, and we have a great life together, but I do sometimes look back at that period of our life with nostalgia. It’s like childhood: so carefree and fun because it doesn’t last forever. —as told to Laura D. Redman

World Press Freedom Day 2018

The theme for the 25th celebration of World Press Freedom Day is “Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and The Rule of Law,” focussing on the importance of an enabling legal environment for press freedom, and gives attention to the role of an independent judiciary in ensuring legal guarantees for press freedom and prosecution of crimes against journalists..

Only 13% of the world population enjoys a free press, where coverage of politics is robust, the safety of journalists is guarateed, and state intrusion in media affairs is minimal. A partly free press to 42% of the world population. The remaining 45% lives in countries where a free press is non-existent (“New Report: Freedom of the Press 2017”). Political and economic transformations of some countries alongside their technological developments place new restrictions on press freedom.

Governments of these countries tend to implement restrictive laws and censorship on freedom of press, usually justifying these actions as a necessary tool for national security against terrorism. Apart from violating the right of freedom of expression, these restrictions place higher risks of violence, harassment and death on journalists.

Since the year 2000, annual incarceration of journalists has continued to increase globally, with many of them never seeing the inside of a courtroom.  In 2017, 81 journalists died whilst committed to their jobs – 66% of them were murdered.

According to the 2017 World Press Freedom Index, violence and restrictions against media freedom has risen by 14% in the time period of 2012-2017. At the same time, since 2016, media freedom in countries where it was ranked as “good” decreased by 2.3%.

Among the countries that suffered the largest declines on the report’s 100-point scale in 2016 were Poland (6 points), Turkey (5), Burundi (5), Hungary (4), Bolivia (4), Serbia (4), and the Democratic Republic of Congo (4).

The world’s 10 worst-rated countries and territories were Azerbaijan, Crimea, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Syria and Turkmenistan.

Sikh American Story Airs on CNN May 6th

The Sikh Coalition is excited to announce that CNN’s Emmy Award-winning United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell will feature the first-ever hour-long cable episode exclusively focusing on the Sikh American community. The episode is scheduled to air on Sunday, May 6th at 10 pm ET/PT.

W. Kamau Bell interviews Sikh Coalition co-founder, Harpreet Singh and Sikh Coalition Social Justice Fellow, Winty Singh along with Yuba City Sikh Mayor, Preet Didbal; Yuba City farmer and community leader, Karandeep Bains; Sikh lawyer, filmmaker and organizer, Valarie Kaur; Sikh soldier and doctor, Lt. Colonel Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi; Sikh actor and designer, Waris Ahluwalia; and Harpreet’s son, Dilzafer Singh.

“This will be an exciting and important moment for the Sikh community to come together and celebrate Sikh awareness,” said Sikh Coalition Executive Director, Satjeet Kaur. “We continue to make progress in our efforts to educate the American public and this is another milestone.”

Thanks to work by Harpreet Singh and support by Valarie Kaur, the Sikh Coalition media and communications team spent six months supporting United Shades of America producers with background resource material, fact-checking and B-roll footage. Over the next week, the Sikh Coalition will be announcing a series of exciting opportunities for the Sikh community to engage and promote the episode to maximize the educational impact.

US wants visa applicants to submit phone, email, social media details

The Trump administration wants all US visa applicants to submit details of their previous phone numbers, email addresses and social media histories as part of its “vetting” practice and to prevent entry of individuals who might pose a threat to the country.

In a document posted on the Federal Register on Thursday, anyone who wants to come to the US on a non-immigrant visa will have to answer a list of questions under new rules.

The State Department estimates that the new visa forms would affect 710,000 immigrant and 14 million non-immigrant visa applicants.

It said that in addition to asking the visa applicants to provide their identifications or handles of their social media platform, they would also be asked to give details of their phone and mobile numbers used in the last five years.

Other questions seek five years of previously used telephone numbers, email addresses and international travel whether the visa applicant has been deported or removed from any country and whether specified family members have been involved in terrorist activities, said the document which would be formally published today.

After its publication, the public would have 60 days to comment on the proposed new visa form.

“One question lists multiple social media platforms and requires the applicant to provide any identifiers used by applicants for those platforms during the five years preceding the date of application,” the document said.

It said the State Department will collect the information from visa applicants for “identity resolution and vetting purposes” based on statutory visa eligibility standards.

However, it intends not to routinely ask the question of applicants for specific visa classifications, such as most diplomatic and official visa applicants, it said. The revised visa application forms will also include additional information regarding the visa medical examination that some applicants may be required to undergo.

Here’s How to Turn It Off

Just as Facebook has been trying to overcome a user data scandal involving the U.K. political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, the world’s largest social media company is again under fire for practices related to overreaching data collection.
Facebook acknowledged Sunday that for years it has been collecting the call and text history of users who own Android phones. It says it has been doing so with users permission, but it’s not that simple.
People who explicitly “opted in” to allowing Facebook to harvest their cell phone data did so by agreeing to let the company import their phone contacts so they could use Messenger or Facebook Lite on Android phones — but it was not obvious to many users that they were agreeing to have their cell phone records logged when they agreed to import their contacts to use those apps on their Android phones.
The company defended itself by explaining that “people have to expressly agree to use” the opt-in feature for importing their contacts on Messenger or Facebook Lite to allow Facebook to collect the cell phone data, but Sunday’s statement is the first time the social media company actually spelled out that practice in clear terms for users.
“When you sign up for Messenger or Facebook Lite on Android, or log into Messenger on an Android device, you are given the option to continuously upload your contacts as well as your call and text history,” the statement reads. “For Messenger, you can either turn it on, choose ‘learn more’ or ‘not now’. On Facebook Lite, the options are to turn it on or ‘skip’. If you chose to turn this feature on, we will begin to continuously log this information, which can be downloaded at any time using the Download Your Information tool.”
This circumspect cell phone data harvesting came to light via Twitter as users began posting their personal records downloaded from Facebook, offering incontrovertible evidence the company had indeed been collecting the data.
Facebook also said in its statement that users’ information “is securely stored and we do not sell this information to third parties,” but last week’s scandal involving U.K. political data firm Cambridge Analytica highlighted that the company has in fact been vulnerable to manipulation by the outside companies it voluntarily shares information with.
The company’s stock has dropped more than 14% in a little over a week since the news broke that Cambridge Analytica was improperly harvesting data via a third-party company that Facebook willingly gave user data to. Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologized in a statement on the social platform, as well as in a full-page newspaper ad, but the fallout appears to be continuing as the #DeleteFacebook hashtag continues to trend on social media, and high-profile users like Elon Musk delete their company pages.

Sridevi fondly remembered

When news of Bollywood actress Sridevi’s death in Dubai spread like wildfire late Saturday evening, it understandably met with shock and disbelief. Sridevi was a phenomenon – described as the first female “superstar” — she is being remembered not just by fans in India, but around the world. Sridevi, 54, died on Saturday in a Dubai hotel bathroom. The autopsy report called it an “accidental drowning” in the bathtub.

She was only 55 and looked hale and hearty. Sridevi was in the UAE for a family wedding and was seen cheerfully greeting people in videos circulating on social media. What followed though was pure grief from all over the world and a collective feeling of “gone too soon”. India’s ambassador to the UAE, Navdeep Singh Suri, was the first to confirm and condole the death:

“Absolutely shocked to get the report about untimely demise of #Sridevi. Conveyed my condolences to the family. Our consulate in Dubai is working with local authorities to provide all possible assistance”, he wrote in the tweet.

Sridevi, who had started as a child actor and rose to become a Bollywood sweetheart, left the scene for 15 years only to stage a resounding comeback at the age of 50, unusual in any film industry. News channels from BBC to CNN featured the star, and Twitter lit up with tributes and tears on her untimely death in Dubai at the age of 54.

Sridevi had already been a phenomenon in Tamil and Telugu films before she came to Bollywood, says Professor Gyan Prakash, who teaches history at Princeton and has included Bollywood in some of his courses. “In Bollywood, she could navigate both comedy and intensely emotional roles with ease – intensity in “Chandni” and comedy in “Mr. India.” There are not many in Bollywood who could cover this kind of range,” said Prakash, whose book on Mumbai was made into the film “Bombay Velvet.”

Indo-British filmmaker Gurinder Chadha, who met Sridevi very recently at a get-together hosted by fashion designer Manish Malhotra, told BBC the Sridevi was, “completely and utterly, a force of nature on her own.” adding, “She is, and I don’t use the world lightly, an Icon.”

 Filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma, who directed Sridevi in films like Great Robbery, Govindhaa Govindhaa and Hairaan, says that the late actress has been a “very unhappy woman” and her life was a “classic case of how each person’s actual life is completely different from how the world perceives it”.

In a personal note on her, Varma says that she was the most desirable woman and the biggest super star of the country but that’s just a part of the story. He wrote: “For many, Sridevi’s life was perfect. Beautiful face, great talent, seemingly stable family with two beautiful daughters. From outside everything looked so enviable and desirable… But was Sridevi a very happy person and did she lead a very happy life?”

People hailing from South India and living in the United States, have been listening to the continuous replay of the memorable song, Kanne Kalaimane” from her 1980s film with screen idol Kamal Haasan – “Moondram Tirai” (loosely translated to mean 3rd day of the new moon). “She was so innocent in that movie, nobody can forget that,” Purushottaman recalls, reminiscing  further about the song that was composed by poet Kannadasan, who gave then child-actor Sridevi her first role as God Muruga in “Thunalvan.”

Sridevi’s remarkable comeback in “English Vinglish” at the age of 50, “was very significant for the Indian diaspora,” says Rochona Majumdar, associate professor in the Departments of Cinema and Media Studies, South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. “It spoke to a generation of middle and upper middle-class women who had an English handicap,” said Majumdar, who is a “huge” fan of Sridevi and feels a sense of personal loss. Majumdar also pointed to “English Vinglish” portraying the Indian-American community in the U.S.

“It is a great shock to our community. We grew up with her and she was a heartthrob for many of us,” said Ranganathan “Ranga” Purushottaman, president of the New York Tamil Sangam, adding, “We loved her from the beginning.”

Familiarity with Sridevi spreads across generations, according to Purushottaman. ” Even our children know her, with her latest movie “English-Vinglish” which had a great effect on us NRIs,” he said, referring to non-resident Indians.

 “The Indian diaspora got to see how they are absorbing and melting into the American environment. And it was a very cosmopolitan environment that director Gauri Shinde showed, in which she (Sridevi) was very good,” Majumdar added.

Sridevi was the Grand Marshal of the Federation of Indian Association’s India Day Parade of 1996 in New York City. “On behalf of the Chairman, Board Of Trustees & the Executive Committee, our condolences to the Kapoor family. This is a dark day for the Indian film industry. We will pray to almighty god to give her departed soul peace and all strength to her family to go through this tough times,” the FIA said in a statement on Sridevi’s demise.

Sridevi’s funeral: millions gather to bid farewell

Millions of people joined film stars and celebrities to bid adieu on Wednesday to the first lady superstar of India, Sridevi, who was cremated in Mumbai with state honors amidst outpouring of grief by her fans.

Sridevi’s daughters Janhvi and Khushi performed the final rituals before the body was consigned to flames in the electric crematorium in Vile Parle with husband Boney Kapoor standing by.

The funeral, marking the final journey of Sridevi, who died due to drowning in the bathtub of her hotel room in Dubai on Saturday night, was one of the largest in recent times in Mumbai city.

It started near her residence before reaching the crematorium after a three-hour long journey in a tall, open truck, fully decorated with white flowers — her favourite colour — with the body being draped in the national tricolour and carried in a glass casket, as cries of ‘Sridevi Amar Rahe’ by her fans rent the air.

Maharashtra government accorded full state honors for the funeral of Sridevi — who was conferred a Padma Shri in 2013, which included draping her body in the national tricolour, elaborate arrangements by the Mumbai Police and a gun salute before the cremation.

Inside the truck was Sridevi lying serene with full make-up, a large south Indian style vermillion and wearing a ceremonial gold and maroon coloured Kanjeevaram sari. A heavy, large necklace adorned her since she died a ‘suhaagan’ (one whose husband is still alive), giving the appearance of a resplendent ‘devi’ (Goddess) in deep slumber.

Her grieving family members including husband Boney Kapoor, her step-son Arjun Kapoor and brothers-in-law Anil Kapoor and Sanjay Kapoor were among those who travelled in the truck with the body.

The truck slowly negotiated the approximately six km passing through some of the poshest areas of Andheri and Vile Parle suburbs, with a massive portrait of Sridevi visible from a distance.

Several lakhs of people including students, office-goers and others accompanied or waited on both side of the roads, looked on from buildings and bungalow terraces. Many climbed on signals and lamp posts for a last glimpse of their beloved heroine.

In terms of sheer numbers, Sridevi’s funeral is estimated to have attracted the highest number of mourners, ranking on par with the previous biggest funeral processions of the legendary singer Mohammed Rafi (July 1980: around a million mourners), and India’s first superstar Rajesh Khanna (July 2012: a little less than a million mourners). The other big funerals of non-political personalities in Mumbai included those of Raj Kapoor (June 1988) and Vinod Khanna (April 2017).

The procession was led by several family members, close relatives, friends and even neighbours of the Green Acres society where the family lived in Lokhandwala Complex. Among the prominent personalities who attended the funeral in Vile Parle were Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Randhir Kapoor and others who came to bid a final goodbye to Sridev

Earlier, since dawn, thousands of teary-eyed fans and admirers of the late actress, many carrying flowers, had queued up outside the Celebration Sports Club at Lokhandwala Complex for a final ‘darshan’ of their idol.

After the flower-bedecked body was brought to the club premises a steady stream of celebrities came in their vehicles and where whisked inside to pay their last respects.

Among the early callers seen were Rekha, Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan, Arbaaz Khan, Madhuri Dixit-Nene, Akshaye Khanna, Tabu, Farah Khan, Nitin Mukesh, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Vidya Balan, Sushmita Sen, Shabana Azmi, Javed Akhtar, Madhur Bhandarkar, Deepika Padukone, Sanjay Leela Bhandsali, Jackie Shroff, Farhan Akhtar, Hema Malini, Jaya Bachchan, John Abraham, Ajay Devgn and Kajol, Anupam Kher and Sulabha Arya, among others.

In the past four days since her demise, the Kapoor household had witnessed a steady stream of visitors including Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan, Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and Krishna Raj Kapoor.

Most of the visitors were sporting dark sunglasses to ward off the harsh early-summer glare, carrying flowers or small bouquets, embraced and consoled the bereaved family members, entering from the main entrance and leaving quickly from the other side as fans tried to catch a glimpse.

Sridevi’s body was flown to Mumbai from Dubai where she passed away following an accidental drowning in a bathtub in her hotel room around 11 pm on February 24, and from the airport was taken to the Kapoor residence in Green Acres. For the final journey, at the club and the crematorium, the Mumbai Police implemented elaborate security arrangements at various venues and arranged special traffic and crowd management

Medha Gupta worried about walking alone, so she created an app to make it safer

Medha Gupta sometimes felt uneasy making the 20-minute walk from the corner where the school bus dropped her off to her home in Herndon, Va. — especially during the colder months, when it would get dark early. Her mother had a suggestion: Write an app.

Divya Gupta was half-kidding, but Medha, a sophomore at Fairfax County’s Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, took the challenge ­seriously. So she went to work. “I knew I had a problem I needed to solve,” said Medha, 16.

The result was Safe Travel, an app designed by Medha to help commuters feel more secure when traveling alone. Using their iPhone (the app is compatible only with iOS), a person can program it to send an alert to someone they trust if they fail to arrive at a destination within a certain time.

It was the first iOS app that Medha had created. It’s a program language she wasn’t well-versed in, so she didn’t think much would come of the project. But her inaugural effort caught the eyes of judges for the annual Congressional App Challenge, who selected her as the winner for Virginia’s 10th District. “We were elated,” said her father, Manmohan Gupta, who has a computer engineering ­background.

The App Challenge is designed to encourage students to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and math by experimenting with coding and computer science. It is modeled after the Congressional Art Competition, where student artists compete to have their works displayed at the Capitol. Once exclusive to high school students, the challenge was opened in 2017 to students in grades K-12 across the country.

“This contest is about building the domestic pipeline for the jobs of the future,” said Rachel Decoste, executive director of the App Challenge.

This year, more than 4,100 students submitted nearly 1,300 apps. One winner is chosen for each congressional district that participates. Medha beat out several other competitors in Virginia’s 10th District, which is represented by Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.).

“We are always delighted to see the innovation and talent that our students demonstrate through the annual Congressional App Challenge,” said Comstock. “It is this kind of skill and innovation which makes this contest so rewarding each year.”

The app challenge is an initiative of the U.S. House of Representatives, but is managed by the nonprofit Internet Education Foundation. Winning students are invited to attend a reception on Capitol Hill in April and also received $250 in Amazon Web Service credit

US announces 2+2 ministerial dialogue with India to take place in Washington DC

In an on-going sign of growing partnership, the United States has announced that the inaugural “2+2” ministerial dialogue between its defense and state department secretaries and their Indian counterparts will take place in Washington. The dialogue is expected to be held on April 18 or 19.
“We expect to launch our inaugural 2+2 dialogue with India in Washington this spring, when secretary (Rex) Tillerson and secretary (James) Mattis will meet with their Indian counterparts to further deepen our security ties,” state department deputy secretary John Sullivan said during a senate hearing on the Trump administration’s Afghanistan-centric South Asia strategy.
The launch of the dialogue was announced in August last year. The White House had said in a statement, “establishing a new 2-by-2 ministerial dialogue … will elevate their (the two countries’) strategic consultations”.
While secretaries Mattis and Tillerson have met their Indian counterparts Nirmala Sitharaman and Sushma Swaraj before, this will be the first meeting in a 2+2 (or 2 by 2) format of simultaneous meeting.
This 2+2 replaces the strategic and commercial 2+2 that India and the US had been holding for a few years earlier, involving the defence and commerce ministries in discussions focussed on expanding defence and bilateral trade ties.
At the hearing, Sullivan spoke also of India’s involvement in Afghanistan in the context of President Trump’s south Asia strategy, which accords a larger role to India. “The United States and India share economic and humanitarian interests in Afghanistan,” he said.
“India has allocated more than $3 billion in assistance to Afghanistan since 2001. India further strengthened ties with Afghanistan with the signing of a development partnership agreement. We appreciate these contributions and will continue to look for more ways to work with India to promote economic growth …”

Indian govt admits rise in religion-based hate crime Pro-Hindu ruling party accused of fanning the flames of violence against religious minorities

BJP run government of India has presented detailed data in parliament showing a surge in religion-based violence since it came to power four years ago. The statistics, revealed on Feb. 6, confirm a long-standing allegation by rights groups that the situation is worsening.

Pew Research Center, a U.S.-based think tank, in its 2017 analysis ranked India as among the worst in the world for religious intolerance. The nation of 1.3 billion trailed only behind Syria, Nigeria and Iraq.

In 2017, 111 persons were killed and at least 2,384 injured in 822 cases of sectarian violence, the highest figure in the past three years in India.  In 2016, 86 persons were killed and 2,321 injured in 703 incidents of religion-based violence.

Parliament was told that the highest number of sectarian incidents was reported in India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, which has 200 million people, some 40 million of them Muslims.
The state, where the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept to power in last year’s provincial elections, witnessed 195 incidents of religion-based violence in 2017, claiming 44 lives and injuring 452 people.

Rights groups and civil society have been accusing the BJP, which leads the federal coalition government, of fanning the flames of intolerance. They also allege the administration is supportive of Hindu groups’ violence against religious minorities like Muslims and Christians in its desire to make India a Hindu-only state.

Some BJP leaders’ active promotion of Hindu nationalism resulted in the spike in communal violence in India since it came to power in 2014, says a report by the Mumbai-based Center for Study of Society and Secularism.

The failure by authorities to investigate or prevent such attacks, often led by extremist groups acting as vigilantes for cow protection and moral policing, have “created a climate of impunity” and might lead to continued attacks, says the report.

A video clip that went viral on Feb. 7 shows a young man slapping a middle-aged Muslim man more than 25 times, asking him to say “Jai Shri Ram” (hail lord Ram). Media reports said police have arrested 18-year-old Vijay Meena.

BJP parliamentarian Vinay Katiyar told reporters in New Delhi on Feb. 7 that Muslims have no business being in India and should go to Pakistan or Bangladesh. He also blamed Muslims for partition of the subcontinent in 1947.

“Over the past three years, the space for liberal discussion in the country has become narrower. This has been shown by repeated incidents of threats, assassinations and lynching, along with the banning and burning of books,” said Murali Krishnan, a veteran Indian journalist who reports current and social affairs in South Asia.

Colin Gonsalves, a Supreme Court lawyer and founder-director of the Human Rights Law Network, said sectarian incidents, even if they happened in far-flung villages, were part of a “national conspiracy” and damaged the basic tenets of the constitution.

“Sectarian violence, like terrorism, should not be seen only as a law and order problem. Hate speech, like a terror incident, may happen in a village but the conspiracy has to be uncovered nationally,” he said.

Hindus form 80 percent of India’s population or some 966 million. The 172 million Muslims and 28 million Christians are the two main religious minorities, followed by Sikhs, Buddhists, Zoroastrians (Parsis) and Jains.

INOC, USA expresses concern over misinformation campaign to denigrate the legacy & contributions of Nehru-Gandhi family

Indian Overseas Congress (IOC, USA) expresses grave concern over the tone and content of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech at the Parliament denigrating the legacy of Nehru and attacking the Nehru-Gandhi family that includes the two who have even sacrificed their lives in serving the nation. “It is unfortunate that the leader of the ruling party was engaged in a tirade against history instead of dealing with the current economic downturn caused by the errant policy implementations of this administration,” said George Abraham, Vice-Chairman of the Indian Overseas Congress, USA.
“Ever since Narendra Modi came to the office of Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru became his favorite punching bag with a deliberate effort and calculated campaign to tarnish his legacy and diminish his accomplishments. It is very consistent with a pattern of behavior from his ruling party to rewrite history and misinform the public to further its political ends” Mr. Abraham added.
IOC, USA understands the frustration of Mr. Modi after having promised to create 10 million jobs a month and improve the lives of those rural folks,  not only that he failed on both of those scores, but the country has also been witnessing a depressed job market in the IT sector and increased farmer suicides.
Modi’s speech in Parliament where he conveniently twisted history when he said that had Sardar Patel been the first PM, all Kashmir would have been ours.  All available facts of history disprove Modi’s theory in this regard, and he may probably need a history lesson to refresh his memory.  Rajmohan Gandhi in his biography “Patel: A Life (Page 407-8,438)” talks about Patel’s thinking of an ideal bargain: if Jinna let India have Junagadh and Hyderabad, Patel would not object to Kashmir acceding to Pakistan.
Moreover, it is not only the Separatists in Muslim League that drove India to the tragedy of partition but also Hindutva zealots who demanded a Hindu State to replace a secular India. RSS rejected the whole concept of a composite nation and made it easy for the British Colonialists to drive the final nail of their divide and rule strategy on an emerging free country.
Instead of addressing serious problems at hand, Modi’s whole exercise in the Parliament has been an attempt to smear the opposition and divert attention away from his failure to keep his promises to the voters that he made in 2014.  IOC requests the Prime Minister to respond to the questions raised by the President of the Congress party and the nation is eagerly waiting!

Freida Pinto & Leslie Odom Jr. To Star In ‘Only’ From Takashi Doscher

Indian actress Freida Pinto and Tony-winning Hamilton star Leslie Odom Jr. are set to star in Only, written and directed by Takashi Doscher. The film follows Eva (Pinto), who might be the only woman left on Earth. After a mysterious plague threatens to kill every female on the planet, the lives and relationship of a young couple, Eva and Will (Odom Jr.), are put to the ultimate test as they try to survive the disease and the dangerous people who want to hunt her down.
Pinto has two movies due out in 2018, “The Jungle Book,” a live action retelling of Rudyard Kipling’s classic; and “Love Sonia,” a film about sex trafficking alongside Demi Moore. Pinto recently starred alongside Idris Elba in John Ridley’s Showtime miniseries Guerrilla.
Pinto could not contain her excitement when she took to Instagram to inform her followers about the new film. “This gorgeous man and I are partners in crime on a soulful love story we are filming at the moment. Can’t wait for all of you to meet our Will and Eva. #Only,” she wrote alongside a cute photo of the two actors. The film will also feature “The Walking Dead’s” Chandler Riggs and Jayson Warner Smith.
Pinto, who recently starred on Showtime’s “Guerilla,” can currently be seen on Hulu’s provocative drama series, “The Path,” which returned for a third season Jan. 17.

SR Socially Relevant™ Film Festival New York

The fifth edition of SR Socially Relevant™ Film Festival New York takes place at Cinema Village in Downtown Manhattan and neighboring venues such as SVA Social Documentary Film Campus and CRS (Center for Remembering and Sharing). The dates of the fifth edition are March 16-22, 2018.
The 70 films in the offering range from Narrative Fiction Features, Documentary Features, Short films in the fiction and documentary categories, VR/AR and 360 films, and a scriptwriting competition that also offers readings with a cast of actors for the finalist scripts, and represent 35 countries.
The winners of each category are awarded special prizes that come in the form of trophies created by Michael AramAnet Abnous, and from a number of the film industry and professional partners such as Candy FactoryCinema Libre StudioIndiePixSuncane Now ChannelInkTipFinalDraft, and others.
A number of workshops and panels complement the film screenings as the educational component of the festival, and these touch upon such topics as editing, distribution, pitching for film projects, filming in New York from the Governor’s Office for Film, Low Budget Film Production at SAG-AFTRA, Measuring the social impact of films, and others.
Through its TV access at MNN studios, SR Film Festival offers additional exposure to filmmakers through televised red carpet interviews. Spokespersons and guests of SR Socially Relevant™ Film Festival NY include Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, Erin Brockovich, Martin Sheen, Pulitzer Prize and Tony award-winning writer Robert Schenkkan, prolific and best-selling French novelist Marc Levy, Academy Award Nominee and Emmy Award Winner Guy Davidi, American TV commentator and author Gretchen Carlson, and Liaison Officer of Tibet and the Dalai Lama, Kunga Tashi.
SRFF partners with film schools, cultural organizations and representations of foreign consulates and embassies in New York, and socially responsible brands, focusing on specific topics and offering discounted access to their membership. Inquiries are welcome at [email protected]. Fifth edition of SR Socially Relevant Film Festival NY kicks off March 16-22, 2018 at Cinema Village. “SR is sure to appeal to cinema fans of all interests. So come on and support New York’s latest festival.” Catherine Fisher: Tribecafilm
“ important program of films” Peter Belsito: IndieWire: Sydney’s Buzz
“ would be very good if it became a permanent feature of New York’s rich cultural and political tapestry”  Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist
“Amy Goodman provided a rousing keynote address” Chris Atamian: The Huffington Post
For details on partner organizations and sponsorship opportunities please visit the festival’s website:

This is why 63 million girls are missing in India

A deeply felt preference for boys has left more than 63 million women statistically “missing” across India, and more than 21 million girls unwanted by their families, government officials say.
The skewed ratio of men to women is largely the result of sex-selective abortions, better nutrition and medical care for boys, according to the government’s annual economic survey, which was released Monday. In addition, the survey found that “families where a son is born are more likely to stop having children than families where a girl is born.”
Sex-selective abortions are illegal in India — and doctors are forbidden from even revealing the gender of a fetus — but it’s easy to find radiologists willing to break the rules. The combination of long-held cultural beliefs and financial realities means that millions of Indian families dread having daughters.
The birth of a son is often a cause for celebration and family pride, while the birth of a daughter can be a time of embarrassment and even mourning as parents look toward the immense debts they’ll need to take on to pay for marriage dowries. Studies have long shown that Indian girls are less educated than boys, have poorer nutrition and get less medical attention. Many women — including educated, wealthy women — say they face intense pressure, most often from mothers-in-law, to have sons.
By analyzing birth rates and the gender of last-born children, the report also estimated that more than 21 million Indian girls are not wanted by their families.
“The challenge of gender is long-standing, probably going back millennia,” wrote the report’s author, chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian, noting that India must “confront the societal preference for boys.”
The report also noted that increasing wealth does not mean an end to male preferences among families, with some comparatively wealthy areas, including New Delhi, faring worse over the years.
Many of the best scores for women’s development, the report noted, were in India’s northeast — “a model for the rest of the country” — a cluster of states that hang off the country’s edge where most people are ethnically closer to China and Myanmar, and where some people don’t even see themselves as Indian.

The Earth’s Future Will Not Come from Heaven

Most readers will find it difficult to accept what I am going to express here. Even though it is based on the best scientific minds that have been studying the universe, the situation of planet Earth and her eventual collapse, or qualitative leap to another level of reality, for almost a century, it has not penetrated into either the collective consciousness or the major academic centers. The old atomic, mechanistic and deterministic paradigm that arose in the XVI century with Newton, Francis Bacon and Kepler, continues in force, as if Einstein, Hubble, Planck, Heisenberg, Reeves, Hawking, Prigogine, Wilson, Swimme, Lovelock, Capra or so many others who have elaborated a new vision of the Universe and of the Earth had never existed.
For starters, I would quote Christian de Duve, 1974 Biology Nobel Laureate, who wrote one of the best books about the history of life: Vital Dust: life as a Cosmic imperative, (Polvo vital: la vida como imperativo cósmico, editorial Norma, 1999): «Biological evolution moves with an accelerated rhythm towards grave instability. Our time reminds us of the important ruptures in evolution, marked by massive extinctions» (p. 355). This time it will not come from a massive meteor that eliminated almost all life, as in past eras, but from the human being itself, that not only can be suicidal and homicidal, but also ecocidal, biocidal and even geocidal. The human being can put an end to most life on our planet, leaving only the underground microorganisms; bacteria, fungi and viruses, that number in the quadrillions of quadrillions.
Given this threat, the result of the death machine created by the irrationality of modernity, the term «anthropocentric» was introduced to refer to the present as a new geological era, in which the great threat of devastation comes from humanity itself (anthropos). The human being has intervened and continues to intervene in the rhythms of nature and the Earth in a profound manner that affects the very ecological basis that supports us.
According to biologists Wilson and Ehrlich, between 70 to 100 thousand species of living beings will disappear annually, due to the hostile relationship the human being maintains with nature. The consequence is clear: the extreme events we are witnessing irrefutably show that the Earth has lost her equilibrium. Only the ignorant, such as Donald Trump, deny the empirical evidence.
To the contrary, the well known cosmologist, Brian Swimme, who coordinates a dozen scientists in California who study the history of the Universe, struggles to offer a saving path out. We should note in passing that cosmologist Swimme and cultural anthropologist Thomas Berry, published a history of the universe, based on the best scientific data, from the big bang to the present, (The Universe Story, San Francisco, Harper 1992), which is known as the most brilliant work realized to date. (The translation to Portuguese has been done, but the Brazilian editors were too foolish, and until today it has not been published. The Spanish translation has been devalued because the book devotes too much space to the concrete situation of the United States). The authors created the concept, «the Ecozoic era», or «the ecocene», a fourth biologic era that would follow the Paleozoic, the Mesozoic and our Neozoic.
The Ecozoic starts with a vision of the universe as cosmogenic. Permanence is not its hallmark, but evolution, expansion and auto-creation of ever more complex «emergences», thus allowing for the birth of new galaxies, new stars and forms of life on Earth, including our conscious and spiritual life.
The authors are not afraid of the word «spiritual» because they understand that the spirit is part of the Universe itself, always present, which in an advanced phase of evolution has become self aware, seeing ourselves as part of the Whole.
This Ecozoic era represents a restoration of the planet through a relationship of caring, respect and reverence, towards the magnificent gift of the living Earth. The economy should not seek accumulation, but what is enough for everyone, so that the Earth may replace her nutrients. The future of the Earth does not come from heaven, but from the decisions we take to remain in consonance with the rhythms of nature and the Universe. I quote Swimme:
The future will be decided either by those who are committed to the Technozoic –a future of increasing exploitation of the Earth as a resource, all for the benefit of humans– or by those committed to the Ecozoic, a new mode of relating with the Earth, where the well being of the Earth and the entire community of terrestrial life is the principal interest (p. 502)
If the Ecozoic does not triumph, we will probably experience a catastrophe, this time produced by the Earth herself, to liberate herself from one of her creatures, that violently occupied everything, threatening all other species, species that, because they have the same origins and the same genetic building blocks, are her brothers and sisters, which is not acknowledged, resulting in their abuse, and even murder.
We must deserve our survival on this planet. But that depends on having an amicable relationship with nature and life; and on a profound transformation of our forms of living. Swimme adds: «We will be unable to live without the special intuition (insight) that women have had in all phases of human existence» (p. 501).
This is the crossroads of our time: either to change or to disappear. But, who believes it? We will continue to raise high our voices.
Leonardo Boff is a Brazilian theologian, ecologist, writer and university professor exponent of the Liberation Theology. He is a former friar, member of the Franciscan Order, respected for his advocacy of social causes and environmental issues. Boff is a founding member of the Earthcharter Commission.

Adopted Indian child now a Swiss Parliamentarian

Gugger has become the first Person of Indian Origin to be elected to the Swiss parliament. His biological mother Anasuiya could never have imagined that Niklaus-Samuel Gugger, whom she abandoned in a hospital 48 years ago just after his birth, would be the first Indian to be elected to the Swiss parliament.

Born in CSI Lombard Memorial Hospital, run by Basel Mission, in Karnataka’s Udupi town, on May 1, 1970, Niklaus was adopted by a Swiss couple within a week of his abandonment. Niklaus’s new parents — Fritz and Elizbeth — took him to Kerala when he was just 15 days old and they lived there for around four years before moving to their native place in Switzerland. There, Niklaus had to drive trucks and work as a gardener as his adoptive parents were not rich enough to finance his higher studies.

Talking to the media at the first PIO-Parliamentarian Conference here last week, Niklaus said: “My mother, Anasuiya, handed me over to Dr. E.D. Pflugfelder — now deceased — just after my birth, requesting him to give me to a couple who could rear me in a better way and help me make a good career.”

Pflugfelder, in turn, contacted the Gugger couple and the rest, as they say, is history. Niklaus, better known as Nik, was among 143 People of Indian Origin (PIO) parliamentarians from 24 countries who took part in the conference organised by the Ministry of External Affairs to engage the diaspora as part of its diplomatic outreach.

For Niklaus, coming to India was an emotional moment. Narrating his journey from the Karnataka hospital to the Swiss parliament, Niklaus said he spent initial four years of his life in Thalassery in Kerala where his new mother Elizabeth worked as a teacher of German and English and father Fritz was a tool maker in Nattur Technical Training Foundation (NTTF).

“Later, my new parents moved to Switzerland where I worked as a truck driver, gardener and mechanic to pay for my higher studies. I had to go through this because my parents were not so rich as to bear the burden of my studies. They gave me food and clothes.

“They trained me in other things,” Niklaus added. Having finished my studies, I indulged in social work simultaneously with my other work to earn my livelihood.

In 2002, he was elected town councillor from Winterthur city northeast of Zurich near the German border. “And subsequently, in November 2017, I was elected as a member of Switzerland parliament on the ticket of the Evangelical People’s Party — a minority party. I am the first Indian to be elected as an MP in Switzerland’s parliament.”

Niklaus added he would be the only Indian in the Swiss parliament for at least the next decade as there was no other active Indian-origin politician in the country. One the youngest members of the Swiss parliament, Niklaus said he had also worked in an orphanage between 1992 and 1993 in the US city of Columbia.

He has also had a long association with Kerala’s NTTF institute, which lends a helping hand to students pursuing their technical education in India and Switzerland. Niklaus feels that he has imbibed the culture of both India and Switzerland. He hopes to come down to India in the near future to discuss his ideas on start-ups in collaboration with the Swiss and the Indian governments. Niklaus thanked his biological mother for his success and said he named his daughter Anasuia to keep alive her memory because he has not been able to track her down.

India’s Supreme Court in crisis!

‘No Your Honour’! An earnest plea to save India’s faltering democracy!

By   George Abraham

Many newspapers in India on Saturday, the January 13th carried the story of disarray in the Supreme court of India with a beaming headline ‘No, Your honor!’.  India has indeed witnessed an extraordinary news conference by four members of the Collegium revealing the skew in the allocation of work and lack of transparency by Dipak Misra, the Chief Justice of India (CJI).

It has been reported that this is the first time in history that four senior judges – Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Kurian Joseph and Madan B. Lokur brought the inner workings of this revered institution to the forefront of the public debate.  The most notable aspect of this development is that these four judges have asserted that they have done this to preserve democracy for India.

According to Justice Chelameswar, the second senior most judge, “we tried to persuade the CJI to take steps but failed. Unless the Institution of Supreme Court is preserved, democracy won’t survive in this country”. He also added that they were left with no choice and did not want people to accuse those 20 years later that they did not take care of the Institution.

To the keen observers of the recent political dynamics in the country, this development may not come as a huge surprise. The traditions and protocols that preserved the independence of the Supreme Court have been under siege lately like many other Institutions in the country. For those who are concerned about the very concept of equal justice under law, the Supreme Court in India is found to be their last refuge. If that Institution is also interfered with or politicized, India would join the ranks of banana republics and would effectively cease to be a constitutional democracy.

The recent turn of events was triggered by the actions of the Chief Justice who started allocating cases of far-reaching consequences without transparency, indicating selective assignment of cases to preferred judges. One of those cases involved the murder of CBI judge B H Loya who was hearing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh Murder trial in which BJP President Amit Shah was accused. He appeared to have mysteriously died in 2014. CJI on Friday allotted a petition seeking independent inquiry into the death to Justice Arun Mishra who is 10th in seniority.

Then there was the medical admission scam involving sitting and retired High Court judges. They permitted private medical colleges to admit students to MBBS despite Supreme Court bar. Justice Chelameswar set up a bench to hear it, but CJI sent that to another bench saying he alone has the right to draw up the roster. There was also a procedural fight over the norms to appoint HC and SC judges, and CJI sidelined the five-member constitutional bench from such a critical decision making by selecting a small three-judge bench headed by himself.

Many of these actions by CJI have created dissension in the ranks that may point to not only selective justice for the powerful and well-connected, but are instances when the very lives of justices are placed on line. Although some may question the rationale for an open news conference, these four judges are known for their impeccable integrity and impartial judgments. It is also apparent that the Supreme Court is currently lacking any mechanism to evaluate the inner workings of the court or streamline the process to resolve deficiencies resulting from wrong decision making.

Although the Modi Government at first declared that the crisis in the Judiciary is an internal problem for their own to resolve, on the following day, the media got the glimpse of Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary Nripendra Misra at the residence of the Chief Justice Misra. However, the report also stated that the gates were not opened. At this point, one can only speculate the role the Government has played muddying the water that could pose a higher risk to the integrity and the independence of the Judiciary.

It has been quite evident from the recent pronouncements by various BJP/RSS leaders that they are quite unhappy with the current constitution that identifies itself as secular. The Union Minister Ananthkumar Hegde speaking at the meeting of Yuva Parishad said: “I will be happy if someone identifies as Muslim, Christian, Brahmin, Lingayat or Hindu, but trouble will arise if they say they are secular”. Although he later offered a reluctant apology for strategic reasons, he may have been speaking from the mindset of those who are in power today.  They are very well aware of the reality that not only they would require 2/3 majority to change the constitution but also a friendly Supreme Court in case of a judicial review.

There are growing indications that the Modi government which came to power under the guise of a development agenda is busy laying the foundation for a transformed India based on Hindutva ideology. To accomplish their long-cherished goal of total transformation, they either have to change the Institutions that stand in their way or entirely wreck it.

Supreme Court is not the only the Institution that is under siege in today’s India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ill-advised demonetization program shed light on the stress and strain that the Reserve Bank of India was placed under along with its Governor Urjit Patel. At one point, tensions have boiled over between India’s central bank and the government over the monetary policy as the country was facing its weakest growth after its much-heralded demonetization policy.  Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has often pointed out about the danger to the Banking System due to its constant modification of policies and procedures.

Another Institution that has come under considerable scrutiny is the Election Commission of India. The so-called delay to hold the election in Gujarat on time appeared to have given a lot of flexibility to BJP to suit its political ends. The ongoing complaints about the EVM machines, though not substantiated, have cast a pall over the integrity of the voting system and the legitimacy of the election itself.

There are those who fear that the freedom of expression itself is in danger as many in the top leadership of the BJP seem to de-emphasize its importance. Arun Jaitley, the Union minister, is on record saying that freedom of expression should be subordinate to upholding the sovereignty of the nation. There is little doubt that threats to freedom of speech have intensified as right-wing student unions associated with BJP started attacking student assemblies on campuses and supporting the government’s effort to criminalize normal political activity as seditious. The independent media has taken a share of hits as well as in the case of NDTV which was raided in an investigation over bank fraud charges by CBI.

If democracy has to survive the public has to gain a better understanding of the importance of an independent judiciary, impartial prosecutors and unbiased law enforce enforcement system that can ensure the rule of law and effective protection of fundamental rights and freedoms for every citizen regardless of color, caste, creed or religious affiliations.

Undoubtedly, Jawaharlal Nehru with the help of other eminent leaders of the independence movement built many of these institutions that stood the test of time. The emerging nations during that period such as Yugoslavia, Egypt, and Ghana failed in this regard, and results are quite evident for all of us to see. Nehru’s vision and leadership were critical in shaping India as we know it today. For BJP, many of these independent institutions remain as stumbling blocks in pushing their agenda through. Only time will tell the fate of many of those revered institutions which form the edifice upon which India stands. In the meantime, I pay homage to those four Jurists whose courage and commitment to preserve our venerable institutions may have given us a ray of hope and probably, few reasons to cheer!

(Writer is the vice-chairman of the Indian Overseas Congress, USA)

Pakistan summons U.S. ambassador after Trump’s angry tweet

Pakistan has summoned the U.S. ambassador to protest against U.S. President Donald Trump’s angry tweet about Pakistani “lies and deceit”, which Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif dismissed as a political stunt.

David Hale was summoned by the Pakistan foreign office on Monday last week to explain Trump’s tweet, media said. The ministry could not be reached for comment but the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad confirmed on Tuesday that a meeting had taken place.

Trump said the United States had had been rewarded with “nothing but lies and deceit” for “foolishly” giving Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid in the last 15 years. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!” he tweeted on Monday. His words drew praise from India, and Afghanistan, but long-time ally China defended Pakistan.

The White House said it would likely announce actions to pressure Pakistan within days, shortly after U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said at the United Nations that Washington would withhold $255 million in assistance to Pakistan. “There are clear reasons for this. Pakistan has played a double game for years,” Haley told reporters. “They work with us at times, and they also harbor the terrorists that attack our troops in Afghanistan.”

A U.S. National Security Council official on Monday said the White House did not plan to send an already-delayed $255 million in aid to Pakistan “at this time” and that “the administration continues to review Pakistan’s level of cooperation”.

Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Tuesday chaired a National Security Committee meeting of civilian and military chiefs, focusing on Trump’s tweet. The meeting, which lasted nearly three hours, was brought forward by a day and followed an earlier meeting of army generals.

Relations with Washington have been strained for years over Islamabad’s alleged support for Haqqani network militants, who are allied with the Afghan Taliban. The United States also alleges that senior Afghan Taliban commanders live on Pakistani soil, and has signaled that it will cut aid and take other steps if Islamabad does not stop helping or turning a blind eye to Haqqani militants crossing the border to carry out attacks in Afghanistan.

Foreign Minister Asif dismissed Trump’s comments as a political stunt born out of frustration over U.S. failures in Afghanistan, where Afghan Taliban militants have been gaining territory and carrying out major attacks. “He has tweeted against us and Iran for his domestic consumption,” Asif told Geo TV on Monday. “He is again and again displacing his frustrations on Pakistan over failures in Afghanistan as they are trapped in dead-end street in Afghanistan.” Asif added that Pakistan did not need U.S. aid.

Meanwhile, the Indian Overseas Congress welcomed the withholding of U.S. funds from Pakistan as it has been accused of harboring terrorists. “IOC has long held the view that Pakistan is not interested in rooting out terrorism but rather using it as an instrument of policy as well as leverage to siphon off funds from the United States,”  said George Abraham, Vice-Chairman of the newly constituted Indian Overseas Congress, USA. “We agree with the White House sentiment that the time has come to call a spade a spade and demand Pakistan to cease of their nurturing of the terrorists in its backyard.

President Donald Trump has accused Pakistan of “lies and deceit” saying America was foolish to have given Islamabad more than 33 Billion in aid.  The tweet on Monday comes in the aftermath of rising tensions between Washington and Islamabad since summer when the U.S. announced his administration’s national strategy for Afghanistan.  India has long been a victim of this Pakistani duplicity, and the attack in Mumbai on 26/11 was carried out by terrorists who were trained in Pakistan.

Priyanka Chopra is world’s Sexiest Asian Woman

Priyanka Chopra has been voted the “Sexiest Asian Woman” in the world in an annual UK poll released in London last week. The 35-year-old Quantico actor topped the 2017 edition of the popular ‘50 Sexiest Asian Women’ poll by London-based weekly newspaper Eastern Eye for a record-breaking fifth time.

She reclaimed the top slot from Deepika Padukone, who had been voted the sexiest Asian in 2016. “I cannot actually take credit for this at all. Full credit should be given to my genetics and your optics! Thank you Eastern Eye and to everyone who voted for me to be Asia’s Sexiest Woman, for what I’m told is a record breaking number of times! I feel grateful and am humbled. Consistency is key,” said Chopra who has surpassed 20 million followers on Instagram.

Now in its 14th year, the longest running list of its kind is based on millions of votes sent in by fans around the world, media coverage, impact and heat generated across various social media platforms.

The list this year was trending on Twitter across different countries including India during the voting process. “Priyanka Chopra has become an incredible international ambassador for India and is smashing through glass ceilings all over the world. Apart from being courageous enough to fly into the unknown professionally, she has also done a lot of work for social causes, become a strong symbol for girl power and is making a young generation have big dreams. She is the perfect mix of beauty, brains, bravery and a kind hear,” Asjad Nazir, the Entertainment editor of Eastern Eye who founded the list and puts it together annually, said in a press release.

Padukone came in third this year while Alia Bhatt came if fourth ahead of Pakistani star Mahira Khan who was in fifth place with Drashti Dhami in sixth, Katrina Kaif in seventh, Shraddha Kapoor in eighth, Gauahar Khan in ninth and Rubina Dilaik in 10th.

Padukone, who was the reigning queen of 2016, has slipped to the third position this year. Television actress Nia Sharma takes the second spot while the fourth and fifth places are secured by actresses Alia Bhatt and Mahira Khan, respectively.

“I should thank my mom and dad for this award…lol!” Chopra, clearly delighted with the win, wrote on Twitter Dec. 6. “It’s purely my genetics and your optics… and a big thank you for the immense love you guys give me every single time which has put me on top of the list 5 times over. Thank you.”

The accolade rounds off another dream year for the actress as she makes incredible strides internationally with her Hollywood debut, noted the magazine. Currently filming Season 3 of “Quantico” in New York, Chopra has cemented her base in Hollywood. Though “Baywatch” didn’t exactly set the cash registers ringing, Chopra’s kitty is full of assignments. Her next Hollywood film, “A Kid Like Jake,” will debut at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival (see story in India-West here: She will also be seen alongside Rebel Wilson, Liam Hemsworth, Adam Devine in “Isn’t It Romantic?”

The 35-year-old actress, who recently made it to Variety’s annual list of ‘500 Most Influential Business Leaders Shaping the Global Entertainment Industry,’ list also takes time to sing and has released four singles: “In My City,” “Exotic” with Pitbull, and “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” and the recent “Young and Free,” with Will Sparks.

2017 also saw the actress make it to Forbes’ annual ‘Top-10 Highest-paid TV Actresses’ list. She has continued to make giant strides as a producer, too, and remained one of the hottest Indian stars on social media, crossing 40 million followers on Instagram and Twitter combined.

Now in its 14th year, the list is based on millions of votes by fans around the world, media coverage, impact and the heat generated across various social media platforms. Eastern Eye entertainment editor and founder of the ‘50 Sexiest Asian Women’ list, Asjad Nazir, described Chopra as the perfect mix of “beauty, brains, bravery and a kind heart.”

“Priyanka Chopra has become an incredible international ambassador for India and is smashing through glass ceilings all over the world,” said Nazir. “Apart from being courageous enough to fly into the unknown professionally, she has also done a lot of work for social causes, become a strong symbol for girl power and is making a young generation have big dreams.”

Radhika Jones to lead pre-eminent celebrity-driven magazine ‘Vanity Fair’

Radhika Jones, 44, has been chosen to be the chief editor of Vanity Fair, the world’s celebrity driven magazine announced here on November 13th. Jones will take over as editor-in-chief of the celebrity-driven magazine that takes a splashy view of America and the world.

Jones garnered high praise from the likes of Anna Wintour, the editor in chief of Vogue and artistic director of Conde Nast which owns Vanity Fair. She becomes only the second woman to helm the magazine, and follows in the giant footsteps of the British media icon Tina Brown, who launched the new incarnation of the magazine as its editor in chief from 1984-1992. Jones succeeds current editor Graydon Carter, who has been there since 1992, and is known for raising the celebrity-driven bar of the magazine, which also however, carries serious political and economic pieces.

“In Radhika, we are so proud to have a fearless and brilliant editor whose intelligence and curiosity will define the future of Vanity Fair in the years to come,” Wintour said in a statement about Jones who lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and son. “I’m honored and excited to succeed Graydon Carter as editor in chief of @VanityFair,” Jones tweeted Nov. 13.

The New York Times, where Jones has been the editorial director of the books department for the past year, broke the story about her appointment. The Times called Jones a “surprise choice” to lead Vanity Fair.

In an interview with Vanity Fair the day the announcement was made Nov. 13, Jones talked about her inspirations and hinted at where she may take the magazine. But not much about her parents, one of whom happens to be Indian, her mother, and Robert L. Jones, her father, a well-known singer and guitarist from the 1950s and ’60s, according to his biography on a folk music website.

Jones will lead Vanity Fair through its 24th annual Oscar Party in March, the fifth annual New Establishment Summit, the brand’s 105th anniversary and the continued digital expansion of The Hive, the title’s newest brand launch.

Jones, who takes over officially Dec. 11, previously held senior editorial roles at The New York Times, Time and The Paris Review. She joins Vanity Fair from the Times, where since November 2016 she was Editorial Director, Books, overseeing daily and Sunday reviews and expanding the desk’s digital coverage at the intersection of books, news and ideas. At Time, Jones led all arts and entertainment coverage for the brand.

“Radhika is an exceptionally talented editor who has the experience and insight to drive the cultural conversation—balancing distinctive journalism with culture and humor,” Bob Sauerberg, president and CEO of Condé Nast is quoted saying in the press release. “Her experience covering news and entertainment has given her a thorough understanding of the importance of chronicling and celebrating the moments that matter. With her expansive worldview, I know she will guide Vanity Fair’s history of provocative and enduring storytelling well into its future.”

Prior to The New York Times, Jones spent eight years at Time rapidly rising through the ranks to become deputy managing editor in 2013. Prior to joining Time in 2008, Jones was the managing editor of The Paris Review, managing editor at Grand Street, an editor at Artforum, and the arts editor of The Moscow Times, where she began her career.

Jones has a B.A. from Harvard University and holds a Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia, where she has also taught courses in writing and literature. Born in New York City, she grew up in Cincinnati and Connecticut. “There is nothing else out there quite like Vanity Fair,” Jones is quoted saying.


About 53 years ago on April 13, 1964 Sri Chinmoy came to New York. Since then he tirelessly dedicated his life for the world peace and to the fulfilment of the unlimited potential of the human spirit. A prolific author, poet, artist and musician, an avid athlete, a respected spiritual leader and a devoted humanitarian, Sri Chinmoy- who left his body in 2007- continues to inspire and encourage countless people around the world through his creative endeavours, through innovative peace activities, and through the example of his own life.  In about 1600 books of essays, poetry, short stories and answers to the spiritual questions Sri Chinmoy conveys the richness and diversity of the quest for peace and self-discovery. Sri Chinmoy offered hundreds of inspiring talks at the world’s most prestigious universities such as Harvard, Princeton, Oxford.  Sri Chinmoy composed more than 21,000 spiritual songs which in their lyrics and melodies explore the length and breadth of the aspiring human experience.

In more than 700 Peace Concerts at places such as Royal Albert Hall in London and around the world he expressed humanities aspiration for inner and outer peace. Sri Chinmoy performed on a dozen or more instruments in concert.  Sri Chinmoy created a vast outpouring of art. His paintings continue to give people joy and inspiration at galleries worldwide.  He named it Fountain Art  to  signify the art flowing from the source. He also drew a very large number of peace-bird drawings which symbolize the peace and freedom of the soul.  Through all his activities he was conveying the message of Oneness of humanity.

In the spring of 1970, at the invitation of then United Nations SecretaryGeneral U Thant, Sri Chinmoy began conducting twice-weekly Peace Meditation for UN delegates and staff. Sri Chinmoy, The Peace Meditation at the United Nations, as the group is known. This group sponsors a series of programmes, lectures and concerts to promote world peace. The aim of UN and the aim of spirituality are one and the same. That is  Oneness.

DREAMER OF THE WORLD PEACE SRI CHINMOYAt a time when inter religious strife seems insurmountable, the simplicity and power of Sri Chinmoys message of oneness amongst the faiths is very relevant. Sri Chinmoy dedicated his life to building bridges among faiths.  Sri Chinmoys dedication to fostering peace in the aspiring heart of humanity continues through the work of Sri Chinmoy Meditation Centres in more than 60 countries. These centres around the world are composed of individuals who seek to cultivate peace, harmony and goodwill. They offer thousands of meditation classes always free of charge.   Through  Oneness Heart Tears and Smile  the humanitarian assistance programme they are uplifting countless poor and needy people worldwide.

In 1987 Sri Chinmoy founded the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run. The longest relay run for peace going through more than 140 countries and bringing together millions of people from different culture, background and beliefs in the spirit of friendship and harmony.  Since 1986, more than 900 landmarks and places around the world have been dedicated to peace as a part of the Sri Chinmoy Peace –Blossoms.  Founded by Sri Chinmoy in 1976, the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team holds a few hundred athletic events around the world annually, including marathons, ultra marathons, bicycle races, swimming races etc.

Sri Chinmoy has received numerous awards, proclamations and honorary degrees such as Gandhi Peace Award received jointly with Coretta Scot King, Martin Luther King wife. Nehru Medallion, UNESCO, Paris, Presidential Medallion, Slovakia, Gold Medal in Literature etc.  Sri Chinmoy was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize by person such as Desmond Tutu. He was nominated for Nobel Prize in literature too.  Sri Chinmoy met many world leaders and inspired them for peace. He met President Gorbachev more than 20 times.

  • I salute Sri Chinmoy for his sustained efforts in mobilizing worldwide opinion for the noble cause of peace and harmony. – A. B. Vajpayee.
  • What you are doing is in the interest of the entire humanity and the world. – Nelson Mandela.
  • Your deeds are invaluable, for they cannot be measured by any economic or political parameters; they are noble and cure the human soul. M. Gorbachev.
  • I keep you in my prayer and I count on your continual support through your prayers and sacrifices. – Mother Teresa. For more information see,

At UN, Priyanka Chopra bats for girl empowerment

Actress Priyanka Chopra, a UN Goodwill Ambassador, spoke up for girl empowerment and felicitated an Indian woman working towards supporting acid attack victims, at the Global Goals Awards at the UN General Assembly here.

Priyanka, who has often spoken on girl child rights and gender issues, on Wednesday shared on social media a photograph of herself from the event, which highlighted the roles played by a girl to make progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Alongside the image, she wrote: “Honoured to have participated in the Global Goals Awards tonight (Tuesday) at the UN General Assembly. These awards highlight the role girls play in changing their lives and in making progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

She presented the Leadership Award to Indian girl Ria Sharma, who works towards supporting acid attack survivors, and said she felt proud.

“Ria founded Make Love Not Scars (MLNS), which is an organization that actively supports survivors of acid attacks physically and mentally, and campaigns to raise awareness of the issue’ Ria’s efforts are contributing to change the lives of many women who have survived acid attacks,” Priyanka wrote.

Priyanka shared that the organisation had ensured that the survivors receive free treatment under a Supreme Court order for the welfare of acid victims.

The National Award winner also posted a series of photographs and said it was an honour for her to speak at the UN Global Goals Awards on the importance of empowering girls, addressing global leaders and influencers from the UN, philanthropy, media, non-profits and business.

“We all need to come together and work to empower, educate, create opportunities and impart skill sets so that we can be their catalysts for change and to help them build their brave new world. If possible, a safe one where they can live their dreams and laugh together as one,” she wrote.

Priyanka said she had the opportunity to meet the youngest UNICEF goodwill ambassador, Muzoon Al-Mellehan, who is doing “such amazing work advocating education for Syrian girls. All in all, this was a very inspiring and uplifting night”.

“All started with a dream. Wanted to find something that would bring me pleasure daily:” Olga Noskova Tells Ancy James in an Exclusive Interview

By Ancy James

Cake Artist and Columnist

Olga Noskova, Russian Pastry Chef extraordinaire broke Instagram on May 2016 by gaining 300k followers overnight, a jump from her previous 34,000 followers, after sharing a few pictures of her eclectic cake which would go on to become her trademark “mirror glaze” technique. The internet drooled over every glamorous and blindingly shining masterpiece that she shared. Even as thousands of cake enthusiasts shared her cake designs praising it with words like “flawless”,”trippy and groovy”, “mesmerizing” and it was Britney Spears tweet: “This cake is too perfect to eat” that made the Russian Pastry Chef realize her own multimedia celebrity status.

A year into her phenomenal rise as the most sought after Cake designer and being in the spotlight has in no way dampened her ongoing passion to deliver the most perfect, glamorous and awe inspiring confection and her thriving Instagram account is proof of that

Currently she is gearing up for a Mega event where she will get to rub shoulders with the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Samuel L Jackson, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears and many others at “The 9th Shorty Awards” to be held in October this year in New York City. She has bagged a prestigious nomination as a finalist in the “Food” category. The Shorty Awards annually honor the best of social media by recognizing the influencer, brand and organization on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, snapchat and others.

Ancy James got in touch with her to share with our viewers her inspirations and share some light on the creative process of making her gorgeous cakes. We asked her about her journey to the top and how much life has changed since 2016, between then and now and her plans for the coming years.

Ancy James:

You have to give yourself credit for making history in instagram by adding 300k followers in less than 24 hrs last year with your glamorous mirror cakes  and being the inspiration for cake afficianados around the world. Even the DIY(Do it yourself) kitchen table entrepreneurs  are trying their hand at replicating your mirror glaze technique. In less than a year you have been recognized as a social media influencer with your prestigious nomination in the food category this year at ‘the shorty awards thanks to your every increasing followers. How do you feel about your phenomenal path to the top?

Olga Noskova:

In cooking, as in the fashion industry has its own legislature, trendsetters. Most often, they are world-famous masters of their craft, working with well-known restaurants or influential persons. Perhaps ordinary people have never heard of them, but they are well known in their circles. However, sometimes previously unknown confectioner can surprise the world with any of his incredible technique and conquer it, becoming the progenitor of a new trend. This is what happened to me. Many manufactures made mousse cakes, but my style of mirror glaze helped me stand apart from the general mass, and now, many associate mousse cake with my name. It’s a big responsibility because, now the world, professionals and amateurs alike are watching me and my work, and I always must be at a decent level in representing this trend in the confectionery art.

Ancy James

Pl share a little bit of the journey to becoming a multimedia celebrity. How has life changed after becoming the most popular and followed cake artist on the net? 

Olga Noskova:

All started with a dream. I was an economist but I wanted to find something that would bring me pleasure daily. Do you know the English say: “Water dripping day by day wears the hardest rock away”? So, every day I tried to create something so beautiful and lovely. And thanks to my unbelievable mirror and delicious cakes my popularity started to grow. The stars smiled at me.  In my case, the first star who rated my talent is Britney Spears 🙂

The British “Independent” wrote my cake is “absolutely impeccably”. The BuzzFeed called my work is “absolutely flawless” and wrote that they are “too good to be eaten”.

One day I woke up famous in the world. My Instagram increased to 613K followers. I could not believe what had happened to me! Their comments, admiration, love – that’s what makes me understand that this is not a hobby and not a job. This is my life!

Ancy James

You have seen phenomenal success in an industry where it is very important to offer something unique and different. How have you kept yourself grounded and what is your strategy to keep the internet drooling over you flawless and incredible creations in the coming years?

Olga Noskova:

I do not follow trends; I try to develop myself in the direction I have chosen. I love to experiment and explore new design options, combinations of textures, fillings and colors. Minimalism in details, incredible play of colors and combinations, memorable taste – all part of my style. Therefore, throughout 2017. I plan to continue to develop in this direction. But that’s not all) To remain trendsetter, it is needed to look ahead of the curve. Therefore, I now firmly engaged in studying extremely difficult, but at the same time, incredibly beautiful and unique technology that will not leave anyone indifferent.

Ancy James:

What inspires you to work so hard to create new designs. How do you draw inspiration from your life?

Olga Noskova:

My cake for me is pure “art”.  I’m a pastry chef and an artist. I’m inspired by paintings by Van Gogh, Monet, Gauguin, Korovin. Their style and the transmission, infinite movement, fluidity of moment, a riot of colors – everything is so dynamic and passes you up a glimpse of the artist. The cake is my canvas. I paint my works in the soul and reproduce it.  I strive to make every of my cake better than the previous. I guess what my followers want; I feel them and create for them. I draw inspiration from everywhere: from nature and its constant mutability, from the universe and its forces, from the world’s largest events. For example, when I think of infinity and majesty of the universe, I feel her strength and energy. I know that the universe helps, if you really want, and so always speak to her. I have a whole lot of cakes, dedicated to space, each of which is unique, as the universe itself. Every time it’s a new cosmic history, combining the incredible aureole, shine, color versatility, depth and power of outer space. As they say it is better to see once, so check my Instagram @olganoskovaa.

Ancy James:

Every month we see new and innovative tools and technology being introduced to the Cake decorating and Pastry world on some social platform or another. Which ones are your favorite? 

Olga Noskova

To be honest, I like to do everything myself, using my hands. I do not have a large, mass production, which requires special equipment to accelerate the process.

I can afford to create. Sometimes ideas for cake decoration come during the actual creation process, and sometimes I ponder them in advance each detail, color. In each cake I put my love, happiness, and a piece of my soul. I think this is one of the secrets of the popularity of my cakes.

Ancy James:

How do you de-stress/let-off steam after a hard day at work?

Olga Noskova:

Orders are enough. Even if I’m not making cakes, I’m always looking for ideas. Now a lot of problems for the development of the brand, especially abroad. The Arab countries are showing great interest in my cakes and spent a lot of time to negotiate and discuss details.

But I always find time for family! It is very important for me to be there, do not miss any important moment. We like to spend weekends out of town, a break from the city bustle, enjoying nature and family gatherings.

And I love hockey! I try not to miss the games of Salavat Yulaev and root for them with all my heart. Now, I began to actively participate in the life of the club, most recently, my cake was put up for charity auction as a lot, and we helped to make this world a better place for special children.

Ancy James:

What advice would you give cake decorators who are flooded with new ideas but haven’t yet managed to develop their own style? 

Olga Noskova:

Of course, in the beginning it is important to get the basic knowledge of the confectionery business in any kind of courses or workshops. This will be your foundation. I got my first experience from well-known foreign and Russian chiefs, absorbing like a sponge, their knowledge and advice. But if you want to become a true professional, stand out from the masses, you should not be afraid to take a chance. Begin to experiment, to try, to mix and find your perfect recipe. The true recipe can only be achieved by trial and error. Do not look at others, choose what you like, what you do best and take that route, developing and improving. Always keep learning, do not stop there.

Ancy James, after pursuing a career (16 years) as a television producer, at age 37,  changed her life course by getting a Culinary and cake diploma and a few international cakes decorating certifications from international cake artists. Her stint of two years (2014-2016) running a small business in New Delhi, boosted her network with top notch cake aficionados and it got her thinking of writing a column with their views on global cake decorating trends. In 2016, she wrote columns for Indian top two bakery industry magazines, bakery biz and bakery review.

A Global Call for Journalists’ Safety

The UN system and its member states must develop policies to protect journalists and end impunity for crimes against them, said key stakeholders during a meeting. A multi stakeholder consultation held in Geneva brought together representatives from governments, civil society, media, and academia to discuss developments in the area of safety of journalists and the issue of impunity.

“Too many journalists are imprisoned for the wrong reasons. Too many journalists are forced to flee their countries. Women journalists face particular forms of harassment. Murder remains the most tragic form of censorship,” said UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO) Director-General Irina Bokova to participants.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), some 1,246 journalists have been killed since 1992. The deadliest countries were those in conflict situations including Iraq, Syria, Philippines, and Somalia.

There were also almost 260 journalists in jail at the end of 2016, the most CPJ has ever documented. Turkey is the world’s leading jailer of journalists with over 145 imprisoned journalists, more than China, Egypt, and Iran combined.

As censorship tactics become more complex, new challenges have arisen for journalists, underscoring the need to protect journalists and end impunity.

“Online attacks now occur at a frequency and scale that we’ve never experienced before. We need new ways to protect journalists, to deal with what technology has enabled because computational propaganda means to stifle any challenge or dissent against power,” said CEO of Philippines newspaper Rappler Maria Ressa during the consultation.

In an effort to address these complex issues, stakeholders formulated numerous recommendations to reinforce and improve the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity adopted by the UN Chief Executives Board in 2012.

Among the main challenges highlighted by stakeholders was how to translate the UN Plan of Action into national policies and practices.

“We need to reboot our thinking of the UN Plan to bridge the gap between the progress made at the international level and the situation on the ground,” said Executive Director of International Media Support at the meeting organised by UNESCO and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information Frank La Rue stressed the importance of governments to set up national mechanisms for the safety of journalists and the report on such policies to help end impunity for attacks against journalists.

Participants also emphasized the importance of UN leadership and the strengthening of the UN system to better address journalists’ safety, including enhancing inter-agency coordination and the mainstreaming of safety issues in agencies’ programming.

They also urged making better use of existing avenues and mechanisms in the UN system in order to improve monitoring and reporting on attacks against journalists, especially in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Within the internationally agreed agenda is goal 16 which calls for the creation of peaceful and inclusive societies with effective and accountable institutions and highlights the need to ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms.

Journalist safety and ending impunity are therefore essential to achieve this goal. The recommendations will be finalised into a non-binding outcome document to help inform stakeholder actions in the future.

Christians, Sikhs protest Modi at the White House

Protestors waved flags and chanted as India Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived at the White House for a meeting with President Donald Trump. “We’re here today basically to raise awareness of the human rights violations that are happening with India,” Jatinder Grewal, director of Sikhs for Justice told CBN News.

Over the past few years under Modi’s rule, conditions for Sikhs, Christians and other religious minorities have grown difficult. “When Modi came into power in 2014 he promised the Christians and other minorities that he would allow freedom of religion, he lied,” declared Pastor Rob Rotola, who also protested outside the White House.

“The only people that have favored status in India is not all people; it’s the Hindu nationalist,” he said. “It’s the far extremist party that tends to violence. And as these groups have ramped up the violence, the police state and the government looks the other way, and is allowing it to happen.”

“I am here to speak for the Indian church,” said Bishop John Lutembeka, a missionary in India, “the Indians who are being persecuted by Prime Minister Modi, by a group of radical Hindus.”

“Christians have been killed, women have been raped and Hindu is taking more part in India and it wants to turn India into a Hindu nation and this is what has brought us here to protest,” he continued, “to show that world that even the conversation that President Trump will have with Prime Minister Modi should put into consideration that tolerance of different religious. Let not one Hindu religion be over other religions and begin to persecute them.”

White House officials have said the president likes to deal with delicate matters like human rights and religious liberty violations in private when speaking to world leaders. However, it’s unclear if the president raised any concerns during his meetings with Modi.

Modi arrived on the south side of the White House, the protestors were on the north side so it’s also unclear if he ever saw them. The president said the U.S. and India “agree on most things” and joked that “by the end of the day we’ll agree on everything. I have a feeling”. He said India has agreed to partner with the U.S. in the fight against radical Islamic terrorism. India is also purchasing $365 million worth of military transport aircraft with another $2 billion sale of U.S. made unarmed drones to be finalized soon.

Preet Bharara signs Book Deal

Preet Bharara, the Indian American former U.S. Attorney fired earlier this year by President Donald Trump, has signed a book deal. Preet Bharara, whom President Donald Trump fired in March, has landed a book deal to write about “justice for all Americans,” publisher Alfred E. Knopf announced last week.
The book will be “about the search for justice—not just in criminal cases but in life and society in general,” Knopf said in a statement, according to the New York Daily News.
Trump fired Bharara back in March after the Justice Department official refused to resign from his role as U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York—a role he held for seven and a half years.
Bharara has gone on to be a prolific critic of the Trump administration, making appearances on television and tweeting regularly about the White House’s actions. “The law is merely an instrument, and without the involvement of human hands, it is as lifeless and uninspiring as a violin kept in its case,” Bharara said in a statement about the book. “People will regard a result as just if they regard the process leading to it as fair and if they believe the people
responsible for it are fair-minded. That is the process I want to illuminate in this book.”
The book is slated to be released in early 2019, according to Knopf. It will include details of some of Bharara’s cases during his tenure as U.S. attorney. “Preet Bharara’s life experience, coupled with his standing as a U.S. attorney and the cases he tried as prosecutor, makes him uniquely qualified to write this book,” said Sonny Mehta, Knopf chairman and editor in chief. “His will be an essential primer on justice for all Americans.” The financial details of the book deal will remain secret, according to Knopf Executive Vice President Paul Bogaards. The agreement is “for one book only,” he said.
Bharara was U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York for seven and a half years. His prominent cases included the conviction of Sheldon Silver, former speaker of the New York State Assembly. Bharara was fired abruptly by Trump in March and has since said the president tried to cultivate a relationship with him, potentially compromising his independence. He has called the conversations “weird and peculiar.”
Bharara expects to “address the circumstances that led to his firing,” Knopf spokesman Paul Bogaards said June 22. Bharara said in a statement issued through Knopf that his book, not yet titled, was about law, but also “integrity” and “moral reasoning.”
“The law is merely an instrument, and without the involvement of human hands, it is as lifeless and uninspiring as a violin kept in its case,” Bharara said. “People will regard a result as just if they regard the process leading to it as fair and if they believe the people responsible for it are fair-minded. That is the process I want to illuminate in this book.”

Sanjana Jon to promote her ‘kanya boon hathya’ movement at Icon Awards

Fashion designer and activist Sanjana Jon will be promoting her stance on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Beti Badhao, Beti Padao” initiative at the Stardust Icon Awards which are being held at the Plaza Hotel on July 13.
Jon wants to eradicate the dowry system in India and not only save the girl child but celebrate her. “My whole concept is the get the young men to say that ‘I will not take dowry’ and the young women to say that ‘I will not accept a man who asks for dowry,’” said Jon.
Jon is taking the help of Meera Gandhi, who is the CEO and founder of the Giving Back Foundation and has been working for nearly a decade to promote women empowerment and is very happy that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is making an intiative to do so.
Jon is also taking the help of Swami Chinanand Saraswati Ji and Sadhvi Bhagwati Saraswati in this movement. “It’s not just a matter of saving her, it’s a matter of recognizing her; the incredible gifts, the Shakti that she has as a child, as a young girl, as a woman, as a mother, as a sister, as a daughter, as a mentor, as an embodiment of the divine feminine” said Bhagwati Saraswati.
“In the Indian spiritual tradition that Shakti, that feminine energy is the most crucial part of anything that happens on earth,” she added. Sadhvi Bhagwati Saraswati is the President of the Divine Shakti Foundation which runs free schools and has women empowerment programs enabling young girls the freedom they deserve.
Sanjana Jon started her career working with her brother Anand Jon in New York and they created a jewelry line together which was highly appreciated by Iman and late David Bowie, Barbara Hershey supporting AMFAR. Then they worked on the mens collection which was highlighted by Bruce Springsteen, Backstreet Boys The Artist formerly known as Prince, Collective Soul, Matchbox 20 to name a few.
Her acclaimed debut was at Cannes for the Film Festival supported by Prince Albert of Monaco, Princess Sorayya, Princess Sara Al Saud, Princess Olivia de Borbon and more this led to the New York Fashion week debut and Vancouver fashion week where she won International Rising Star award. fashion with heart has been propagated by her where every show or event supports a charity or cause and Sanjana Jon has been a socially motivated person since her school and college days with her brother Anand Jon used to provide food and clothing to the underprivileged kids and read for the blind students.
She organized protests against racism in Bombay and Delhi and put together a show for Save the Girl Child against female infanticide with 16 celebrity siblings including Salman Khan, Sohail Khan, Sushmita Sen, Riya and Raima Sen, Sajid and Wajid Khan. Recently, she organized a Sanjana Jon Creative Tihar show and project in Tihar with inmates- for the inmates, by the inmates and of the inmates and tried to create a constructive creative training program to make the inmates a more resourceful progressive part of the community.
Through Kanya Broon Hatya, Sanjana is seeking to highlight and propagate the Celebration of the Girl Child and also in support of Global Human Rights through Par Anand Charitable Trust . Winner of innumerable awards including Karamveer Puraskar, Paramveer Award, Indira Gandhi Priyadarshini Award, two Rajiv Gandhi Excellence awards, Intl Humanitarian Awards, Paramshree Universal Humanity Award to name a few.

Report on women in India by Ellen Barry of The New York Times wins Osborn Elliott Prize

Ellen Barry of The New York Times has won the 2017 Osborn Elliott Prize for Excellence in Journalism on Asia for a series of stories examining the role of women in India’s economy and society, and the barriers to their entry into the workforce despite a prolonged economic expansion. Her stories depict the struggles of women in a traditional Indian village to work outside the home and young women leaving their villages to work in a textile factory in the city of Bangalore.

“Ellen Barry’s subtle, beautifully descriptive narratives of the lives of working Indian women explore the conflict between deep-set traditions and the propulsive changes of a modernizing economy,” said Marcus Brauchli, who chairs the independent jury that made the selection. “Her vivid depictions of the gap between dreams and reality, between the past and the hurtling present, will bring understanding to all who read them.”

The jury also recognized as finalists Anna Fifield of The Washington Post “for her remarkable reporting on the long, dark shadow North Korea casts and the curious ways of its ruling classes” and a Reuters team “for its forthright and courageous coverage of the Philippines’ vigilante-style, state-sanctioned drug war, in which thousands were killed last year in mysterious and often suspicious circumstances.”

Barry will be honored at a luncheon event at Asia Society in New York on May 23, also featuring Bloomberg News Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait and a special tribute to Seymour Topping, renowned foreign correspondent at the Associated Press, former managing editor of The New York Times, and former administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes, according to the Asia Society.

“Asia Society is thrilled to honor Ellen Barry and The New York Times with the Osborn Elliott Prize,” said Asia Society Executive Vice President Tom Nagorski, in a statement. “With her eye-opening series on women in India, Barry joins an illustrious group of honorees, all of whom represent the kind of journalism that Osborn Elliott spent his career championing and that the prize was established to honor.”

Established in 2003, the “Oz Prize” honors the late Osborn Elliott, legendary journalist, author and former editor-in-chief of Newsweek. Elliott was a leading figure in the field of journalism who became one of the earliest practitioners of “civic journalism”—the deliberate focusing of the journalistic enterprise on urgent issues of public policy. The $10,000 cash award is presented annually to the best example of journalism about Asia during the previous calendar year.

Barry has been the Delhi Bureau Chief for The New York Times since June 2013. Barry served as a correspondent for the Times in Moscow beginning in 2008, and became bureau chief there in March 2011. In April 2011, she won the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for her work with Clifford J. Levy, former Moscow bureau chief, on Russia’s faltering justice system.

Barry joined the Times as a Metro reporter in January 2007. She was previously a national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, covering the South as Atlanta bureau chief. From 1999 to 2003, Barry worked for The Boston Globe, first as a New England rover, then on foreign desks in Central Asia and Iraq, and as a mental health beat reporter. From 1996 to 1999, she was a feature writer at the Boston Phoenix, and from 1993 to 1995, she was a copy editor and staff reporter for the Moscow Times.

Barry began her career in journalism as a managing board member of the Yale Daily News in 1993. She was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2004 for her beat reporting on mental health. She was also a 2002 Pulitzer Prize finalist for Feature Writing for her “Lost Boys of Sudan” series. That series also earned her the American Society of Newspaper Editors 2002 Distinguished Writing Award for Non-Deadline Writing. In addition, she is the recipient of the American Society of Newspaper Editors 2004 Jesse Laventhol Prize for Deadline News Reporting by a Team for coverage of the Rhode Island nightclub fire. Barry graduated from Yale University in 1993 with a B.A. in English literature and additional coursework in nonfiction writing and Russian language.

The Oz Prize Jury comprises Chair Marcus Brauchli, managing partner of North Base Media and former editor of The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal; Dorinda Elliott, editorial and communications director, Paulson Institute; Mei Fong, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author; Bobby Ghosh, editor-in-chief, Hindustan Times; Alec McCabe, executive producer, Bloomberg Podcasts; and Somini Sengupta, UN bureau chief, The New York Times.

Previous winners of the Oz Prize are: Sudarsan Raghavan, Washington Post for his series on Afghanistan (2016)

Ajit Pai kicks up net neutrality storm in USA

Indian-origin Ajit Pai, the chief of the telecom and broadcasting regulator, US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), is backing a plan to end unhindered and non-discriminatory access to the internet, a controversial proposal that was first mooted by online giants such as Facebook in 2015.

Ajit Pai has revealed a proposal that looks to cut down the net neutrality law in US thereby allowing big cable companies to erect barriers and tolls that impede the free movement of data around the internet. Net neutrality in simple words mean that no specific site or content can be given any preference and also no internet service provider (ISPs) can charge users differently for accessing different sites or content.

The proposal coming from an Indian-origin person seems a little out of place as India in 2015 fought a heady battle for net neutrality triggered by Facebook’s Free Basics programme that claimed to provided internet to many citizens for the first time.

During a major speech in Washington, D.C., Pai outlined the need for a total revision of existing federal rules that seek to prevent companies like AT&T, Charter, Comcast* and Verizon from blocking or slowing down web content, including the movie or music offerings from their competitors.

To Pai, the FCC had erred back in 2015 when the agency — then under Democratic control — adopted “heavy-handed regulations,” he said, that treat internet providers similar to traditional utilities, like old-fashioned telephone companies.

Serving as an FCC commissioner at the time, Pai sided with the telecom industry, which saw the Obama administration’s move as a precursor to even greater regulation. Now that he’s the agency’s chairman, Pai said Wednesday that he plans to kick off a process next month to replace the net neutrality protections currently on the government’s books, possibly with something that’s perhaps more voluntary in nature.

“Nothing about the internet was broken in 2015,” Pai said. “Nothing about the law had changed. And there wasn’t a rash of internet service providers blocking customers from accessing the content, applications or services of their choice.”

Free Basics’ roadblock started as internet activists and organizations wrote to India’s telecom regulator TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) forcing it to float a consultation paper and later suspend Free Basics operations in the country. The India situation had attracted global attention and US as a case study in favor of net neutrality was pointed out several times during the discussion.

But now that Pai or the Republican government wants to cancel laws ensuring net neutrality in US, countries such as India might have to eventually do away with it or face heavy opposition. Pai in a conference on Thursday called the rules “heavy handed” and said their implementation was “all about politics.” He argued that they hurt investment and said that small internet providers don’t have “the means or the margins” to withstand the regulatory onslaught.

“Earlier today I shared with my fellow commissioners a proposal to reverse the mistake of Title II and return to the light touch framework that served us so well during the Clinton administration, Bush administration, and first six years of the Obama administration,” Pai said.

The Republican government’s proposal through Pai wants to do three things — first, it’ll reclassify internet providers as Title I information services; second, it’ll prevent the FCC from adapting any net neutrality rules to practices that internet providers haven’t thought up yet; and third, it’ll open questions about what to do with several key net neutrality rules — like no blocking or throttling of apps and websites — that were implemented in 2015. However, Pai’s proposal has kicked up a storm in the US and nearly 800 startups have written to the FCC saying the rule change will kill them. The net neutrality proposal will be up for vote at a FCC meeting on May 18th.

“Baahubali: The Lost Legends”, the new animated series based on India’s massive blockbuster film, “Baahubali” launches on Amazon Prime Video

Watch the sneak peek first episode of the new animated series, “Baahubali: The Lost Legends,” created by SS Rajamouli, Sharad Devarajan, Graphic India and Arka Mediaworks, exclusively available now on Amazon Prime Video.
Before the war with the Kalakeya. Before Katappa killed Baahubali. Before the death of Sivagami. Two young brothers competed for the throne. One would go on to become king, and the other would go on to become a legend. Experience the secret stories from the world of Baahubali in this all new animated series.
Filmmaker S. S. Rajamouli said,  “What we managed to showcase in the films was just the tip of the iceberg.  From the minute I started working on this story, I knew the world of ‘Baahubali’ can’t be encompassed into a film or two, simply because there’s so much more to tell and animation is another way to do that. We are happy to be collaborating with Graphic India and Amazon to bring the ‘Lost Legends’ to audiences through Amazon Prime Video.”
“Filled with political intrigue, betrayal, war, action and adventure, this animated series will take audiences on new adventures beyond the film, as we learn for the first time the events that shaped Baahubali from a young prince into a legendary hero,” said Graphic India Co-Founder & CEO, Sharad Devarajan. The Series episodes of the animated series will be carried on Amazon Prime Video’s India service from May 19, 2017.