NEWS IN BRIEF
Unfounded claims that the gunman was an immigrant living in the US illegally, or transgender, quickly emerged on Twitter, Reddit and other social media platforms. They were accompanied by familiar conspiracy theories suggesting the entire shooting was somehow staged.
Pakistan is seeking the release of $3 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). That amount would augment the nation’s foreign-exchange reserves, which at $10.2 billion cover less than two months of imports. The government is staring at a $45 billion trade deficit this year. Last week, international bonds due 2031 fell to a record-low.
S President Joe Biden is set to nominate career diplomat Gautam Rana as the new US Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Slovakia, the latest Indian-American to be named for a key position. A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, US - with rank of counselor, Rana is currently deputy chief of Mission of the US Embassy in Algeria.
Elon Musk on Wednesday pledged an additional $6.25 billion in equity financing to fund the $44-billion offer for Twitter Inc, reducing the billionaire's margin loan against his Tesla Inc shares to zero.
Royal Challengers Bangalore beat Lucknow Super Giants by 14 runs in the IPL Eliminator on the back of a sensational century from Rajat Patidar on Wednesday. Patidar smashed 12 fours and 7 sixes in his knock of 112 off 54 balls to help Bangalore post a commanding total of 207. Bangalore will play Rajasthan Royals in the second qualifier on Friday.
A special NIA court in Delhi on Wednesday handed concurrent life terms to Kashmiri separatist and JKLF chief Yasin Malik for funding terror in J&K and waging war against the state, rejecting his contention that he had adhered to the Gandhian principle of non-violence and spearheaded "a peaceful struggle" since giving up armed militancy in 1994.
On Wednesday, in the IPL Eliminator, Patidar hit a 54-ball 112 not out, which laid the foundation of Royal Challengers Bangalore's 14-run win over Lucknow Super Giants. RCB restricted LSG to 193/6 after putting up 207/4 on the board, thanks to Patidar's ton.
Congress dissident and high profile lawyer Kapil Sibal on Wednesday snapped his ties with the party and crossed over to the Samajwadi Party camp, adding to the mounting list of crossovers in recent weeks and amplifying the perception of negativity about the grand old party. His move is a dampener for Congress as it came just 10 days after the Udaipur brainstorming session which was designed to project a restart with organizational restructuring and a ‘Mission 2024’.
Patidar was dropped thrice on the day en route his 54-ball 112 not out, and Rahul was livid with his team's fielding. It proved to be the difference in the end as Royal Challengers Bangalore won the IPL Eliminator by 14 runs to show LSG the exit door.
n a major crackdown on irregularities in digital lending, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has cancelled the certificates of registration of five non-banking finance companies (NBFCs). The RBI said that these firms had violated the norms related to outsourcing and fair practices code in their digital lending operations. Also, they violated regulations on charging excessive interest and resorted to harassment of customers for recovery.
Before he opened fire in a Texas elementary school - killing 19 small children - teenager Salvador Ramos first shot his grandmother, officials said. The 18-year-old, who died when police tried to arrest him, was a US citizen and a student in Uvalde, a small community near the Mexican border where the tragedy took place.
In a fresh push to disinvestment, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the sale of the government’s residual stake of 29.5% in Hindustan Zinc (HZL) which may help raise much-needed revenues of nearly Rs 38,000 crore. The move came even as top officials suggested that the Centre will push for the privatisation of two state-run lenders.
America disgraced itself with yet another mass shooting in a Texas school, where a teenager with state-legislated easy access to military grade guns massacred 19 children. The 18-year old Salvador Ramos went on the rampage after shooting his grandmother. He was killed by a border patrol agent in a shootout. Media reports said the teen, a student at the same Robb Elementary School in the town of Uvalde was upset over failing grades, being bullied due to a lisp and dressing unconventionally.
A new paper based on insurance policy claims data estimates 0.56 million excess deaths in India in 2020 and 4.15 million excess deaths in 2021, or a total of 4.71 million excess deaths in the pandemic years. The calculations in the paper are based on death claims settled by all life insurers as reported by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority till March 2021, death claims settled by LIC in April-December 2021, and CRS data on death registration in India during 2017-20.
State discoms (power distribution companies) will save over Rs 19,800 crore on late fee in the next 12 to 48 months from an surcharge-free instalment scheme being rolled out by the power ministry to help them clear their accumulated dues to gencos (generation companies), a major drag on the sector.
Cracking the whip on more than 2,100 registered unrecognised political parties — which constitute almost three-fourth of the total RUPPs as of September 2021 — for failing to comply with the statutory requirements relating to filing of contribution reports, annual audit reports and election expenditure reports and also intimating change in address and other details, the Election Commission has initiated graded action against them under Section 29 of the Representation of the People Act.
The government on Wednesday said it took “timely and precautionary” measures to regulate sugar exports till October in an attempt to ensure adequate availability of the sweetener during the festival season in October-November and to maintain price stability. It also said the industry was aware that up to 100 lakh tonnes of sugar can be exported till the order kicks in from June.
Dismissed cop Sachin Waze on Wednesday moved the special CBI court seeking permission to turn approver and receive pardon in the corruption case involving former NCP minister Anil Deshmukh. The CBI, in its reply, has given its nod while citing certain conditions. Waze, who has been lodged in jail since last year, was present in court on Wednesday. The court will hear the matter next on Monday.
The Varanasi district judge’s court that took over the Shringar Gauri worship case from the civil judge (senior division) transferred to a fast-track court on Wednesday a fresh petition seeking a ban on the entry of Muslims into the Gyanvapi mosque complex.
A policeman was killed while three Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists from Pakistan were shot dead in a “chance encounter” in Kreeri area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district on Wednesday. The operation helped avert a major tragedy as the Jaish trio had been planning an attack in Srinagar, claimed J&K IGP (Kashmir Range) Vijay Kumar.
Former NIA DG Sharad Kumar, during whose tenure the terror funding cases against Kashmiri separatists, including JKLF chief Yasin Malik, were investigated and crucial evidence collected, said the NIA court’s decision is a landmark one as it hands life imprisonment to a terror mastermind and conspirator who, rather than directly committing a terror act, was instigating others to commit it with funds and resources arranged by him and others.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi skipped taking mandatory political clearances for his visit to London whereas another MP, RJD’s Sanjay Jha who was also invited to the same event in the UK capital had followed the due process, government sources said on Wednesday.
Of 3.4 million school students of class III, V, VIII and X from across India who participated in a survey, 38% said that pandemic was a difficult phase for their education, while 24% said they didn’t have access to digital devices at home. A majority (80%) of these children feel that they learn better in school with peers’ help.
Congress and Kapil Sibal appeared to avoid bitterness in the wake of their falling out, with the senior lawyer eschewing harsh words against his party of three decades and Congress too making light of his exit, shorn of aggression that is reserved for defectors. Filing his nomination as RS candidate with the support of SP in Lucknow, Sibal announced that he resigned from Congress on May 16.
The ED has registered a money laundering case against Congress MP Karti Chidambaram and others in an alleged scam relating to the issuance of visas to over 260 Chinese nationals in 2011 when his father P Chidambaram was the home minister.
The severity of road crashes was at 20 years’ high during 2020 when at least 36 people died in every 100 such accidents, according to a report of the road transport ministry released on Wednesday. The data on road deaths also show that two-wheeler occupants had a huge share of 43.5% of the total road deaths and there was a 79% increase in the number of fatalities due to jumping of traffic lights and 20% rise in deaths due to driving on the wrong side.
Captain Abhilasha Barak from Rohtak in Haryana on Wednesday became the first woman combat aviator of the Army. An engineering graduate from Delhi Technological University, Barak was among 37 Army officers who completed the rigorous flying training at Combat Army Aviation Training School here and were presented the Aviation Wings at the valedictory ceremony of the Combat Aviators Course presided over by Lieutenant General Ajay Kumar Suri, Director General and Colonel Commandant, Army Aviation.
Inflation may take a toll on GST rate rationalisation as the Centre and the states may find it prudent to postpone a decision until prices stabilise given that the rejig may see the levy on several items go up, government sources indicated on Wednesday. While a group of state finance ministers has been constituted to look into the issue, it is yet to support the move and the GST Council is unlikely to meet until the second half of June.
Rajat Patidar owned the big stage with a magnificent hundred as RCB beat debutants LSG by 14 runs in the IPL Eliminator. Bangalore will now take on Rajasthan, losers of first qualifiers, in Qualifier 2, while Lucknow's journey ended following today's defeat. Patidar produced an innings for the ages, smashing an unbeaten 54-ball 112 to power RCB to a huge 207/4. In reply, LSG finished at 193/6 in their 20 overs.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday said his country will not give up its land to end Russia's war. "It's a war not against anybody but 'for our land, for our freedom, for our independence, and for our future'," he said. As a first step to diplomatic negotiations, Zelenskyy added Russia would need to demonstrate its desire to engage in talks.
Twitter Inc will face skeptical shareholders on Wednesday during its annual meeting, as doubt remains over whether the company will complete its deal to be acquired by billionaire Elon Musk at the agreed-upon price. The Tesla chief executive tweeted on May 13 that the $44 billion acquisition was "temporarily on hold" while he sought more information about the proportion of fake accounts on Twitter.
Advanced economies will be back on track by 2024, but developing economies will be 5 per cent below where they would have been otherwise, IMF's Gita Gopinath said on Wednesday. Economies worldwide have been adversely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and are slowly coming back into the recovery path.
To address China's growing military influence in the Indo-Pacific, the Quad announced a new maritime surveillance initiative along with a pledge to invest $50 billion in infrastructure projects in the region. On the sidelines of the Quad summit, US President Joe Biden said his country would intervene militarily to defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack on the self-governed island.
Sri Lankan PM Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as the country's finance minister on Wednesday. He will now lead talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a loan programme to find a way out of a devastating economic crisis, the president's office announced. Sri Lanka has been hit by its worst economic crisis since independence in 1948.
Benchmark indices wiped out early gains as volatility yet again ruled the markets, with the sensex extending its decline to the third day running on Wednesday, falling over 300 points amid a sell-off in IT stocks. The broader Nifty declined 99.35 points or 0.62 per cent to end at 16,025.80.
A witness in the money-laundering case against NCP minister Nawab Malik has told Enforcement Directorate that Iqbal Kaskar had told him that his older brother, fugitive terror accused Dawood Ibrahim, who is based in Pakistan, sends Rs 10 lakh to his siblings every month.
Hundreds of SpiceJet airlines passengers were stranded at various airports due to a ransomware attack that impacted the morning flight departures on Wednesday. "Certain SpiceJet systems faced an attempted ransomware attack last night that impacted and slowed down morning flight departures today. Our IT team has contained and rectified the situation," SpiceJet tweeted.
Deputy foreign minister Andrei Rudenko said Moscow would consider a prisoner swap with Kyiv after the surrendered Ukrainian fighters "are appropriately convicted, sentenced". "Before that, all talk of an exchange is premature," Rudenko told reporters as quoted by Russian news agencies.
Production company T-Series, owned by Bhushan Kumar, shared on its social media handle on Tuesday that it has bagged the rights to author Girish Kuber's 2019 novel 'The Tatas: How a Family Built a Business and a Nation'. Kuber's novel chronicles how each generation of the Tata family invested not only in the expansion of its own business interests but also in nation building.
The NIA on Wednesday sought the death penalty for convicted Kashmiri separatist leader Yasin Malik, who had earlier pleaded guilty of all charges, including those under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, in a terror funding case, court sources said. The court had on May 19 convicted Malik and had directed NIA authorities to assess his financial situation.
India reported 2,124 new Covid-19 cases and 17 deaths in the last 24 hours, according to the health ministry data updated on Wednesday. The ministry of health and family welfare said there were 1,977 recoveries in the last 24 hours while the total number of active cases stood at 14,971.
Three Pakistani terrorists and a Jammu and Kashmir policeman were killed in an encounter in Baramulla district on Wednesday, police said. "One JKP personnel also attained martyrdom in this chance encounter," inspector general of police, Kashmir zone, Vijay Kumar tweeted.
Elon Musk, the world’s richest person, saw his fortune drop Tuesday by 5.4% to $192.7 billion as shares of Tesla Inc. slid almost 7%. While Musk’s wealth is the lowest it’s been since August 26, the Tesla co-founder is still easily the richest of the handful of people worth at least $100 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
The second in-person Quad summit saw more concerted effort, after the IPEF launch on Monday, to check Chinese influence in the region with the 4-nation grouping committing $50 billion for sustainable and demand-driven infrastructure in the Indo-Pacific and announcing a Maritime Domain Awareness surveillance initiative to combat illegal fishing by the Chinese.
At least three missiles - including one suspected ICBM - were fired from the Sunan area in Pyongyang, Seoul said, where multiple recent weapons tests by the nuclear-armed regime have been conducted. South Korea and the United States conducted a live fire "land to land missile drill" in response to North Korea's "suspected ICBM and missile provocations", Seoul's military said.
Beijing further tightened its dragnet on the virus with zero community transmission the target, punishing workplaces that flout rules or circumvent curbs and imploring residents to police their own movements. In Shanghai, which is aiming for a June 1 complete exit from a stringent city-wide lockdown, is gradually unwinding Covid curbs and allowing more people to venture out.
Digit Insurance, backed by Canadian billionaire Prem Watsa's Fairfax Group, is considering raising about $500 million in an initial public offering at a valuation of $4.5 billion to $5 billion, three people aware of the matter told Reuters. Founded in 2017, Digit is trying to capitalise on India's under-penetrated general insurance market along with users' need for a better customer experience.