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Modi to start WEF annual meet with ‘desi’ cuisines, live yoga sessions in Davos

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New Delhi: With exquisite desi cuisine on the platter and live yoga sessions on display, the annual Swiss jamboree of the rich and powerful from ‘a fractured world’ will begin in Davos where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to pitch India as a growth engine for the global economy.
Over 3,000 world leaders from business, politics, art, academia and civil society will attend the 48th World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting over the next five days in the small ski resort town on snow-covered Alps mountains, where the Indian presence will be the largest ever with over 130 participants.
WEF Chairman Klaus Schwab will declare the summit open with a welcome message on the meeting’s theme, ‘Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World’.
It will be followed by honouring Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan, Australian actress Cate Blanchett and legendary musician Elton John with the annual ‘Crystal Awards’ for their respective work towards improving the state of the world.
The evening will also see a ballet performance, while India will host the ‘welcome reception’ with the country’s “exquisite cuisine and age-old Yoga heritage as well as the spirit of a young, innovative New India”.
The official sessions will begin when PM Modi will deliver the ‘opening plenary’, during which he is expected to pitch India as an open economy that is ready for investments from across the world and also as a major engine to drive the global economic growth.
PM Modi is the first Indian Prime Minister to attend Davos meeting in about 20 years since HD Deve Gowda in 1997.
During his 24-hour-visit, described by officials as “short but very focused”, PM Modi will also host a dinner for CEOs from across the world, 20 of Indian companies and 40 from elsewhere, on Monday evening and will interact with a large gathering of 120 members of WEF’s international business community .
Besides, he will hold a bilateral meeting with Swiss President Alain Berset, among other pull-asides, as per the government officials.
PM Modi will be accompanied by six union ministers — Arun Jaitley, Suresh Prabhu, Piyush Goyal, Dharmendra Pradhan, MJ Akbar and Jitendra Singh.
The CEO delegation, led by top industry body CII, will include Mukesh Ambani, Gautam Adani, Azim Premji, Rahul Bajaj, N Chandrasekaran, Chanda Kochhar, Uday Kotak and Ajay Singh, among others.
Among global leaders, US President Donald Trump will be there to deliver the closing address, but any meeting with Prime Minister Modi is unlikely as the two would not be in town on the same day.
Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will also be in Davos, but officials in India have said no meeting is planned between him and PM Modi.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, French President Emmanuel Macron, UK Prime Minister Theresa May and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are among the other attendees.
While US President Donald Trump is expected to talk about his ‘America First’ policy, officials in India said PM Modi’s central message at this multilateral forum will be about India being an economy that can be an engine of global growth and which wants others to participate in its growth and also wants to contribute to others’ development.
A lot of focus is expected on what President Trump says and what would be the response of other world leaders, including from Germany, France and the UK.


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US warn Turkey of facing ‘very negative’ consequences over S-400 deal

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Washington: The United States on Wednesday warned that Turkey will have to face “very real and very negative consequences” if Ankara finalises the purchase of Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile defence systems.

In a statement, the State Department said, “We have said that the S-400 defence system, the acquisition of that would have serious consequences for the US and NATO’s defence relationship with Turkey.”

“We’re clearly willing to engage with them and have continued to engage regarding our concerns on this acquisition, but there will be very real and very negative consequences if that happens,” it added.

 

Turkey has repeatedly rejected US ultimatums for cancelling S-400 shipments and the purchase of American Patriot batteries instead. However, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov condemned to the US ultimatum on Wednesday by calling it unacceptable, Sputnik reports.

In December 2017, Moscow and Ankara signed a loan agreement for the delivery of S-400 air defence systems to Turkey. Since then, the United States and NATO have criticised Turkey’s move, citing security concerns and incompatibility with NATO air defence systems.

Washington had earlier threatened Turkey with sanctions for its planned acquisition of S-400s and repeatedly said it may delay or cancel the sales of F-35 aircraft to Ankara. Turkey is one of the seven states that participate in the F-35 program.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on last Saturday told Al Jazeera that the S-400 deal with Russia was done and wouldn’t change.

“There is absolutely no question of [Turkey] taking a step back from the S-400 purchase. That is a done deal,” Erdogan was quoted as saying.

He also said Turkey and Russia would jointly produce S-500 defence systems after Ankara’s controversial purchase of the S-400s from Moscow.

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Man busted for threatening to bomb Trump tower in New York

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Washington: A 20-year-old New Jersey man accused of threatening on social media to “shoot everybody” at a pro-Israel march and bomb the Trump Tower skyscraper in New York City was arrested on Wednesday on a string of federal charges, prosecutors said.

Jonathan Xie, of Basking Ridge, was taken into custody on charges of attempting to provide material support to Hamas, the Islamist group that rules the Gaza Strip and which the United States designates as a terrorist organization, making false statements and transmitting threats over interstate commerce, according to federal prosecutors.

“Homegrown violent extremists like Xie are a serious threat to national security,” US Attorney Craig Carpenito said in a statement. “The actions that he took and planned to take made that threat both clear and present.”

 

According to the charging documents, Xie appeared in an Instagram Live video in April 2019 wearing a black ski mask and displayed a handgun as he expressed the desire to attack demonstrators at a pro-Israel rally.

“I want to shoot the pro-Israel demonstrators … you can get a gun and shoot your way through or use a vehicle and ram people … all you need is a gun or vehicle to go on a rampage….I do not care if security forces come after me, they will have to put a bullet in my head to stop me,” Xie said in the video, according to the court papers.

That same month Xie was spotted outside of Trump Tower, headquarters of the businesses owned by US President Donald Trump. He later posted photos of the building on Instagram along with a poll asking if he should bomb it.

“Okay, so I went to NYC today and passed by Trump Tower and then I started laughing hysterically … I forgot to visit the Israeli embassy in NYC … I want to bomb this place along with trump tower,” Xie said in a separate post detailed in the court documents.

In February 2019 Xie said he wanted to join the US Army in hopes of learning “how to kill” and applied for a security clearance as a first step, prosecutors say.

He is also accused of sending money to an individual in the Gaza Strip aligned with a faction of Hamas that has carried out attacks against civilian targets in Israel.

It was not immediately clear if Xie, who faces more than 30 years in federal prison if convicted on all charges, had retained an attorney.

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Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro wins, Justice Minister loses in Congress

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Brasilia: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro surmounted a crucial hurdle for his young government on Wednesday by winning approval from disgruntled lower house lawmakers for his move to reorganize the country’s executive branch.

But lawmakers voted against putting the Council for Financial Activities Control (COAF), a key tool for flagging suspicious funds moving through the banking system, under the control of Justice Minister Sergio Moro, a former judge who jailed many politicians in the sweeping corruption probe known as Car Wash.

“I lament what happened,” Moro said, according to newspaper O Globo. “It’s part of the democratic debate.”

 

The vote on the first decree Bolsonaro issued the day he took office in January was a test of his ability to govern without courting traditional parties in Congress, which is threatening to derail his agenda after months of mutual antagonism.

The decree that reduced the number of ministries to 20, from 29 previously, was due to expire on June 3.Failure to gain approval would have thrown the government into crisis, forcing a ministry reshuffle and increasing doubts that he can rally support for an ambitious pension reform bill – the cornerstone of his economic agenda – now in the hands of a political class he openly insults.

A former army captain and apologist for Brazil’s 1964-85 military dictatorship, Bolsonaro wielded little influence in his three decades in Congress and cast his grassroots campaign as a crusade against the horse trading of Brazil’s “old politics.”

“Bolsonaro despises democracy. We have to isolate his anti-democratic attitude and lack of respect for institutions so this does not paralyse the country,” lawmaker Marcelo Ramos, chairman of the congressional committee on pension reform, told Reuters.

Ramos said Bolsonaro was unable to build a coalition with the 308 votes needed to pass the pension bill, aimed at saving 1.2 trillion reais (USD 300 billion) in a decade to restore investor confidence and jump-start a weak economy. Ramos estimated the bill could currently only muster 200 votes.

Bolsonaro has said he would rather work with issue-focused caucuses than party leaders and has called on his supporters via social media to pressure lawmakers obstructing his agenda.

He attacked the political class on Monday for being the country’s “big problem” and blamed interest groups for impeding him from governing.

Lawmakers passed the decree despite their frustration with Bolsonaro’s refusal to reach out to them with government jobs and support for projects in their constituencies.

However, their decision to keep the COAF under the Economy Ministry was a set-back for Bolsonaro and especially Moro, who has declared war on the country’s entrenched culture of political graft and impunity.

The move had alarmed some lawmakers, many of whom are under investigation on suspicion of corruption.

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