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While you were away: Top stories to bring you up to date

ISRO’s satellite launch, US visas and social media accounts and China’s version of Wikipedia. Here’s a list of top stories to bring you up to date.

india Updated: May 05, 2017 07:42 IST
HT Correspondent
ISRO

India's Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F09), carrying GSAT-9, being moved to the launch pad in Sriharikota on Thursday, a day before its launch.(PTI/ ISRO)

1) ISRO countdown begins, PM Modi’s South Asia satellite dream set for launch from Sriharikota today

India will launch the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F09) carrying the GSAT-9 or the “South Asia” satellite, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi said will be a “priceless gift” to neighbouring countries, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh on Friday. “Our dream is that this Saarc satellite will work in the welfare of all our neighbouring countries. And that’s why I have proposed in front of you today that we offer a valuable gift to our Saarc countries through a Saarc satellite launch so that we also become partners in their welfare,” Modi said in 2014.

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2) US wants info on social media accounts, email-id from some visa applicants

The State Department wants to review social media, email addresses and phone numbers from some foreigners seeking US visas, as part of the Trump administration’s enhanced screening of potential immigrants and visitors. The department, in a notice published Thursday in the Federal Register, said it was seeking public comment on the requirement. But it also said it is requesting a temporary go-ahead from the White House so the plan can take effect from May 18, regardless of those comments. The proposed requirements would apply to visa applicants identified for extra scrutiny, such as those who have travelled to areas controlled by terrorist organizations.

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3) Army convoy returning after search op attacked by militants in Kashmir’s Shopian, civilian killed

Suspected militants attacked an army convoy that was returning after conducting a massive search operation that involved 4,000 troopers in south Kashmir’s Shopian district on Thursday. A civilian was killed and three security personnel were injured in the encounter. A Srinagar-based army spokesperson said that an exchange of fire has started between returning the column in Imamsahib area of Shopian district and an encounter was on. The civilian was injured in the gunfire and succumbed to his injuries, agencies reported.

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4) Four robberies in three days: Why ‘militants’ are targeting banks in Kashmir

Kashmir has been rocked by a string of armed bank robberies in the last few months, which the J&K police say is a sign of cash-starved militants trying to keep the funds flowing. Militants, however, are vehement in their denial. They have enough cash, they are freedom fighters and wouldn’t stoop to robbing, they say. The fact, however, is that Kashmir Valley has reported at least nine bank robberies and several such bids after the Centre announced scrapping of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 bank notes on November 8.

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5) Action first, talk later: Army chief hints at revenge for beheading of Indian soldiers

Army chief General Bipin Rawat indicated on Thursday the force would retaliate to the beheading of two Indian soldiers by Pakistani troops, but refused to spell out details. The killing and mutilation of the soldiers in a cross-LoC raid on Monday has sparked widespread anger, with family members and political leaders demanding similar action against the neighbouring country. “We don’t talk about future plans beforehand; we share details after execution,” the chief said.

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6) Presidential poll: Odisha CM keeps Opposition guessing after Yechury seeks support

Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik left the Opposition camp guessing over his position in the upcoming Presidential poll. With more than 32,500 votes, Patnaik’s BJD could have given the Opposition a fighting chance against the ruling NDA in the election. CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury met Patnaik in Bhubaneswar to seek the latter’s support for the Opposition candidate against the NDA in the Presidential poll in July. Although Patnaik didn’t commit his support, he told Yechury that the dialogue process would continue.

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7) Swachh Bharat survey: PM’s constituency Varanasi the only UP city among top 100

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency, Varanasi, has soared up the cleanliness scale occupying the 32nd position in ‘Swachch Survekshan-2017,’ which is a part of the Modi government’s flagship Swachch Bharat Abhiyan (SBA) programme or Clean India Mission. It ranked 65th last year and 418th in 2014. Incidentally, Varanasi is the lone city from UP to figure in the top 100 cleanest cities followed by Aligarh at a distant 145th rank and Jhansi at 166th rank. Gonda in UP was adjudged the dirtiest city in the country and was ranked 434th in the list. UP has 25 cities in the bottom of the list.

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8) Water tanker mafia makes hay as drought misery mounts in Tamil Nadu

With water scarce following successive failed monsoons, tankers carrying water are racing across the state’s interiors and those running the trade, commonly called the tanker mafia, are said to be making a killing. Those owning the borewells and operating the tankers are making a killing. To sink a borewell costs around ₹1.25 lakh. But the returns on the investment are quick and good.

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9) Opinion: Aadhaar is an electronic leash on citizens

Without serious privacy protections, we should be wary of these efforts to make all people known and knowable. They remain ripe for abuse and error (already, lakhs of Aadhaar numbers have been accidentally leaked). Aadhaar will not only grant the State an “electronic leash” on citizens, but also allow corporations to build invasive financial profiles of people’s habits and histories. Why should we either repose faith in private sector whose ultimate interest is its own well-being, or surrender so much trust to state institutions with long traditions of incompetence?

Read the column here.

10) Afghan Prez Ghani refuses to visit Pakistan till terrorists are handed over

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has said he will not visit Pakistan till the country hands over the perpetrators of recent terror attacks and takes action against Afghan Taliban fighters operating from Pakistani soil. Ghani declined invitations from Pakistan’s top civilian and military leaders to visit the country, his deputy spokesman Dawa Khan Minapal told BBC Urdu.

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11) China compiles its own ‘Wikipedia,’ but public can’t edit it

It’ll be free. It’ll be uniquely Chinese. It’ll be an online encyclopedia to rival Wikipedia — but without the participation of the public. And don’t expect entries on “Tiananmen Square 1989” or “Falun Gong spiritual group” to come up in your searches, either. Scholars and experts hand-picked by Beijing to work on the project say only they will be able to make entries — the latest example of the Chinese government’s efforts to control information available on the internet. The effort to compile 300,000 entries that span science, literature, politics and history is being led by the ruling Communist Party’s central propaganda department.

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12) Rishabh Pant’s 97 blows Gujarat Lions out of IPL 2017, Delhi Daredevils alive

Delhi Daredevils rode on a fiery 97 from Rishabh Pant and Sanju Samson’s 31-ball 61 to thrash Gujarat Lions by 7 wickets in an IPL 2017 match at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium. DD now have four wins from 10 games and are still in the playoff race while Suresh Raina’s men are out of the tournament.

Read the story here.