Economy

Get Wired 3/8: File-Eating Termites, Biden in the Fray, Killer Floods, and More

Death penalty files eaten by termites?

The gallows. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The gallows. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Records of death penalty convicts who have been executed since independence have gone missing from many prisons. The National Law University in Delhi is conducting a first of its kind survey to evaluate the fairness of capital punishment jurisprudence especially in post independence India.

“Some prison authorities have written to us that either the records have been lost or destroyed by termites,” NLU director Anup Surendranath, who is heading the death penalty research project stated. The NLU is compiling data on all prisoners who have been executed since independence with the help of the central government.  The casual attitude towards death row convicts is reflected in the loss of the mercy pleas of Krishna Mochi and three others in the Krishna Mochi & Ors vs. Bihar case of 2001. Convicted by the TADA court, mercy pleas of the four have been lost by the Union home ministry. Their pleas were sent to the President in 2003, and a recent RTI response to Suhas Chakma of Asian Centre for Human Rights has revealed that the home ministry has no records available.

Wildlife board on a clearing spree

forestThe National Board for Wildlife has been on a clearing spree, giving the go ahead to 81 projects in their last three meetings. The Board, which is headed by the Union Minister for Environment and Forests Prakash Javadekar has met 4 times and taken up 280 projects. Though the bulk of its clearances came in its first meeting the three meetings this year have give rise to 81 more projects. Incidentally 50% of the clearances were passed in four BJP-ruled states. Out of the projects cleared in 2015, nine projects fall under ‘tiger reserves’ and 27 projects are close to wildlife sanctuaries. The cleared projects include proposal for establishment/expansion of coal-based power plants in Tamil Nadu (Tuticorin), Telangana (Khamman), Uttar Pradesh (Unchahar) and Madhya Pradesh (Budhni in Sehore district) besides a number of roads, railway, telecommunication and irrigation projects in different states.

Joe Biden to join presidential race

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his associates have begun to actively explore a possible presidential campaign, which would upend the Democratic field and deliver a direct threat to Hillary Rodham Clinton, several people who have spoken to Mr. Biden or his closest advisers say.  One longtime Biden supporter said the vice president had been deeply moved by his son’s desire for him to run. Should the Vice President run, his path is unlikely to be easy as he will be running against the possibility of electing the USA’s first woman President.

Omar’s death causes Taliban leadership feud

Afghan_Taliban_mujaheddinThe brother of the late figurehead of the Afghan Taliban on Sunday joined a growing challenge to the extremist group’s newly appointed leader. Mullah Abdul Manan, the brother of the late Mullah Mohammad Omar, told Associated Press that new Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor was “selected” by a small clique of his own supporters. This allegation followed a similar allegation made by Omar’s son. With both men demanding a new vote, that could throw the leadership of the Taliban into greater disarray as it weighs whether to resume fledgling peace talks with the Afghan government or continue its bloody, nearly 14-year insurgency.

Delhi police gets hands on taser guns

The often accused of overuse of violence Delhi Police has now acquired Taser guns. The city police were in the process of procuring Taser guns that would help them nab suspects by incapacitating them, or stunning them, temporarily by administering electric shock, sources said. “When fired, this non-lethal weapon releases electro-magnetic pulse that will paralyze the central nervous system of the suspect, leaving the person in a fetal position on the ground for almost 15 seconds,” Rajesh Malik, special commissioner of police (provision and logistics), said.

BCCI clean up list could include veteran players

BCCISeeking to finally address the problematic issue of conflict of interest in Indian cricket, the BCCI recently wrote to all cricket associations to sign an undertaking on the matter, and plans to get the players to sign up too. On Sunday, it put a player agent accreditation system in place. Holding the associations to the undertaking, however, may be easier said than done, with several retired international cricketers likely to find it tough to continue in their BCCI posts

Paswan claims to be the leader of Dalits in Bihar

In an interview with Mint, Ram Villas Paswan claimed that he was the main leader of the dalits and mahadalits in Bihar. He further went on to say that PM Narendra Modi is the main leader for the backward classes in India. On the new alliance between Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad, he says that there is no common ground between the two. He further said that “for there to be a contest in Bihar there has to be a meeting of hearts between the opposition leaders, that isn’t there at all”.

Splurging on advertising against AAP ideology says Pankaj Pushkar

Accusing the AAP government of misleading the public and going against their mandate, the party’s own MLA Pankaj Pushkar raised questions about the outfit splurging public funds on advertisements. The AAP MLA brought to attention the fact that the party had only used 18 crore each to finance their campaigns in 2013 and 2015. The current amount being used for promotion according to the MLA is 520 crore which he says is completely unnecessary and contradictory to the party’s ideology.

Floods and landslides kill 75 in east India

Representational image. Credit: PTI

Representational image. Credit: PTI

At least 75 people have died and tens of thousands have had to take refuge in state-run relief camps after heavy rains caused floods and landslides in eastern India, government officials and aid groups said on Monday. Cyclone Komen, which struck the east coast on Friday, caused made major rivers overflow, inundating villages in parts of West Bengal, Odisha and Manipur states. The rains also caused a landslide in Manipur, killing 21 people. CM Mamta Banerjee said the release of water from over-full dams in the neighboring states of Jharkhand and Odisha had worsened the flooding in West Bengal, where at least 49 people have died.

China’s solution to dengue

China has set up the world’s largest mosquito factory to breed sterilized mosquitoes to tackle dengue. Located in Guangzhou’s Science City area, team leader Xi Zhiyong is in charge of releasing the produced mosquitoes to the Shazi Island every week to combat the fever. This was the first trial test in the field and has been proved to reduce the mosquito population by 90%.