Wednesday Wrap-up

  • Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw gets lifetime achievement award
    on November 18, 2019 at 6:21 pm

    Bill Gates, co-chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, gave away this award to Mazumdar-Shaw in New Delhi on Nov 17 at an event to mark the celebration of 108th Foundation Day of ICMR. She was also recognised for her philanthropic efforts and providing better healthcare to people in India and globally through cost-effective life-saving therapies.

  • Tesla plans to invest $4.4 B in Berlin factory: Report
    on November 18, 2019 at 6:16 pm

    The first production line at Tesla’s Berlin factory, unveiled by founder and Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk earlier this week, will manufacture the company’s SUV Model Y, which could be produced as early as 2021, according to the newspaper. The electric car maker could receive about €300 million in subsidies subject to approval by the EU, Bild reported.

  • North Korea ‘no longer interested’ in summits with US
    on November 18, 2019 at 6:09 pm

    The statement on Monday by Foreign Ministry adviser Kim Kye Gwan is the latest call by North Korea for US concessions ahead of an end-of-year deadline set by Kim Jong Un for the Trump administration to offer mutually acceptable terms for a deal to salvage nuclear diplomacy. Trump in a tweet urged Kim Jong Un to “act quickly, get the deal done” and hinted at another summit.

  • Hong Kong Police battle protesters in university siege
    on November 18, 2019 at 5:58 pm

    The size of demonstrations has dwindled in recent weeks, but clashes between protesters and police have escalated sharply since early last week, when police shot a protester, a man was set on fire and the city’s financial district was filled with tear gas in the middle of the workday. On Monday night, protesters under cover of umbrellas huddled along in Nathan Road.

  • View: A new CJI provides GoI the chance to have another go at judicial reforms
    on November 18, 2019 at 5:58 pm

    In a recent interview to ET, Justice Bobde also said he was in favour of creating a national judicial service. GoI has been pushing this idea with the intent to create an all-India cadre of judicial officers from where bulk of future judges could be selected. The proposal has been gone into in considerable detail, including on ways to carry out an all-India test and selection.

  • Russia offers job to Maria Butina, woman convicted by U.S. of being an agent
    on November 18, 2019 at 7:25 pm

    In her first public appearance since being deported by U.S. authorities who had jailed her for being a Russian agent, Maria Butina was on Monday offered a job by Moscow to defend Russians imprisoned abroad. During an event for the media, Russia’s human rights commissioner, Tatyana Moskalkova, offered Butina, 31, a job working for her commission. Butina, who flew back to Russia on Oct. 26 after being deported, did not say whether she would accept the offer made at what she called her first public appearance since she was mobbed by wellwishers in front of the media at the airport on her arrival home.

  • Three dead in shooting at Walmart in Duncan, Oklahoma: 'The closer it is, the more it hurts'
    on November 18, 2019 at 7:17 pm

    Three people have been fatally shot at a Walmart in Duncan, Oklahoma, the state Highway Patrol said.

  • Israel’s New Way of War
    on November 18, 2019 at 6:57 pm

    Commuters on Route 4, driving toward the Israeli coastal city of Ashdod on November 12, were shocked by an explosion, a rocket impact next to a major intersection. Had it fallen on a car or one of the many trucks plying the route, there would have been deaths, and the road would have been closed. Instead, police and Israeli Home Front Command units came and cordoned off the sidewalk, and drivers went about their day. Twenty-five miles south of where the rocket landed, other rocket teams from Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), an Iranian-backed terrorist group, were preparing to fire more than 400 rockets at Israel during a brief flare-up in fighting. Most of them would be intercepted by Israel’s high-tech air defense.The ability of millions of Israelis to mostly go about their day while Israel’s air force carries out precision air strikes nearby is due to Israel’s latest achievements in fighting war. It also comes with questions about whether Israel is being effective and what this latest revolution in military affairs means in the long term.A week after the November 12 clashes, they had faded into the background, one day of battle among dozens since March 2018, when Hamas launched a series of protests called the Great Return March. More than 2,000 rockets have been fired, many of them in short spurts. Several times, Israel almost launched a major ground operation. But it has held back. Its Iron Dome air-defense system, which looks like a giant green pack of cigarettes mounted on a truck, intercepted 90 percent of the rockets in the battle with Islamic Jihad. The sophisticated system, developed with U.S. support, not only targets incoming projectiles by firing a missile at them; it even calculates precisely where the threat might hit and works accordingly with a separate system of sirens that warn Israelis to seek shelter.As in almost every attack since Israel pulled its forces from Gaza in 2005, I went down to the border. The area has changed dramatically over the years. In 2008, before Operation Cast Lead, areas of Sderot, a border town, were dilapidated and depressing. Under fire, without any protection, the people were traumatized. Now there are new parks and shopping centers. Israel didn’t go to war on November 12 because it didn’t need to, and it sees diminishing returns in entering Gaza and getting bogged down in fighting. It also knows that civilian casualties would result. In Cast Lead, around 1,400 Palestinians were killed; in the Gaza war in 2014, more than 2,400, according to estimates. Gaza is densely populated; imagine trying to fight a war in Manhattan. Civilians will suffer.However, the volume of rocket fire from Gaza in the past year and the extent of Israeli airstrikes are as large as in previous wars. In July 2018, Israel struck 40 targets in what it said were the largest strikes since the 2014 war. In November 2018, around 500 rockets were fired. In response, Israel struck 160 targets that month. In May 2019, more than 600 rockets were fired at Israel. In the recent battle with Islamic Jihad, Israel hit around 20 PIJ targets. A mistaken airstrike also killed eight civilians from one Palestinian family.Israel dubbed its recent operation “Black Belt” and aimed it at deterring PIJ, which poses a challenge for Israel if there is also conflict with Hezbollah in the north. Delivering a blow to the organization by killing a senior commander to “stabilize the situation” is what Jerusalem hoped to achieve. “Our assessment shows we dealt a significant blow to PIJ’s capabilities,” an IDF spokesman said in a press briefing.This is Israel’s new way of war. It mirrors a type of war that most advanced Western countries, particularly the United States, now fight. It involves precision airstrikes or special forces and complex intelligence-gathering through the use of satellites, cyber technology, and other sources. Gone are the days of heavy armor, of Israel’s Moshe Dayan or America’s George Patton and all that. This “revolution in military affairs” that was unveiled in the early 1990s mandates the use of technology and now involves “asymmetry,” which basically means that on one side you have an F-35 and on the other you have a guy with an AK-47. It’s not simple in reality, because groups such as Islamic Jihad have developed long-range rockets, with Iran’s backing.Nevertheless, in the overall picture, Israel has reached extreme precision in its airstrikes, putting a missile in a bedroom rather than taking out a whole house. Air defense, including Iron Dome and other systems such as the U.S.-made Patriot, enable Jerusalem to avoid a ground war and to focus on the Iranian threat. This is a major revolution for Israel. Thirteen years ago the country was dragged into a conflict with Hezbollah in Lebanon and suffered many early setbacks on the ground. That war taught Israel that its decade and a half of fighting Palestinian terror in the West Bank and Gaza had degraded the army’s ability to engage in a larger complex conflict.Now Israel prefers to prepare for the larger conflict with Iranian-backed groups while managing the conflict in Gaza and carrying out airstrikes in Syria against Iranian targets that are largely shrouded in secrecy. These precise strikes, such as one on a Hezbollah “killer drone” team in August, could lead to a larger conflict. As it faces a variety of threats, from Hezbollah and other Iranian-backed groups, Israel will have to use its air defense against major rocket threats, relying on the tactics it honed in the precision strikes. New technologies enabled Israel to refrain from major conflicts with the Palestinians. In the next war, they will be tested on a much larger scale, on multiple fronts.

  • Warren Calls Out Blackstone for ‘Shameless’ Profits From Housing
    on November 18, 2019 at 6:56 pm

    (Bloomberg) — Elizabeth Warren called out Blackstone Group Inc. for its real estate practices as she laid out her tenants’ rights plan, accusing the company of “shamelessly” profiting from the 2008 housing crisis.Her criticism on Monday was the latest instance of the Democratic 2020 presidential candidate singling out Wall Street companies and investors by name for actions she says contribute to inequality.In a Medium post where she laid out proposals to strengthen tenants’ rights, Warren assailed Blackstone for going on a “shopping spree” in the wake of the 2008 crisis and buying apartments and single family homes that had been foreclosed. She also took aim at Colony Capital Inc. and Cerberus Capital Management.“Some of the same Wall Street firms that tanked the dream of home ownership for millions of American families are now the country’s biggest landlords – profiting off the destruction they caused,” Warren wrote in her post.“Though we are only a tiny percentage of the housing market, we are proud of our investments, which are helping address the housing shortage by adding high-quality, professionally managed rental housing, while contributing to local economies and creating jobs—all on behalf of our investors, which include retirement systems for millions of teachers, nurses, firefighters and other pensioners,” said Jen Friedman, senior vice president for global public affairs at Blackstone.Blackstone is one of the world’s largest real-estate investors, and has about $554 billion in total assets under management. The business is so profitable it has made both founder Stephen Schwarzman and president Jonathan Gray, who oversaw Blackstone’s massive real estate growth, billionaires several times over.In 2012, the firm was racing to acquire single-family homes, spending as much as $150 million a week.Warren has singled out some of the largest U.S. corporations, including Facebook Inc., Exxon Mobil Corp., Walmart Inc., and Wells Fargo & Co., as she campaigns for the Democratic nomination by championing working- and middle-class families. She’s promised to break up big corporations, crack down on their political influence and enforce strict regulations on Wall Street.She has also engaged in fights with such Wall Street figures as Lloyd Blankfein and Leon Cooperman.Warren’s latest attack comes in a policy proposal to withhold federal funding from corporate landlords with a history of “harassing” tenants. Corporate landlords would be required to publicly disclose data like median rent, the number of tenants they’ve evicted and building code violations, as well as the names of any individuals with an ownership interest of 25% or more.Warren also pointed to Blackstone’s $5.3 billion deal to buy New York’s Stuyvesant Town, an 80-acre Manhattan development with more than 11,000 apartments. Under the terms of the deal, about 5,000 of those apartments would remain “affordable” for 20 years, according to an announcement by New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio.Warren has proposed spending $500 billion to build about 3 million housing units in the U.S., and also said her administration would provide a nationwide right-to-counsel and establish a federal grant program aimed at benefiting low-income tenants facing eviction. She said she’d create a federal Tenant Protection Bureau, modeled after the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a key component of the 2010 Wall Street overhaul legislation that she advocated.To contact the reporters on this story: Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou in Washington at;Heather Perlberg in Washington at hperlberg@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Wendy Benjaminson at, Sam MamudiFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Prince Andrew: KPMG not renewing sponsorship of royal’s scheme
    on November 18, 2019 at 6:24 pm

    The controversy over the duke’s ties to Jeffrey Epstein is understood to have been a factor in the move.

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