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29 countries including Britain and US urge Venezuela to release political prisoners

Venezuela to engage in a national dialogue with the opposition to preserve peace and security, and to release political prisoners

Opposition supporters take part in a rally to demand a referendum to remove Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, in Caracas, Venezuela, Sept.16, 2016. Twenty-nine nations called on Venezuela to launch a national dialogue to preserve peace and security.

Geneva, October 1, 2016: Paraguay led nearly 30 countries Thursday in calling on Venezuela to engage in a national dialogue with the opposition to preserve peace and security, and to release political prisoners.
Oscar Cabello Sarubbi, Paraguay’s vice minister of foreign affairs, read the statement on behalf of 29 countries, including Britain and the United States, at the U.N. Human Rights Council.

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It drew a rebuke by Venezuela and its allies, including Cuba and Syria, at the Geneva forum.
The joint statement urged all parties in Venezuela to hold a timely and effective dialogue “to preserve peace and safety, to ensure the full respect of human rights, due process, the separation of powers and the consolidation of a representative democracy.”

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The government of President Nicolas Maduro is struggling under an unraveling socialist economic system that suffers from triple-digit inflation, extensive shortages of staple products, and food riots. He says the OPEC-member country is a victim of an economic war backed by the United States and the Venezuelan political elite.

Venezuela’s opposition has called for rallies nationwide on October 12 to push for a recall of Maduro this year, as it seeks to oust his Socialist Party in an early presidential election.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, in an opening speech to the forum September 13, highlighted “allegations of repression of opposition voices, arbitrary arrests and excessive use of force against peaceful protests” in Venezuela, as well as “increasingly widespread hunger and sharply deteriorating health care.”

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The Paraguay-led statement said it shared Zeid’s concerns about repression and called for “the early release of persons arrested for political reasons” including opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, whose wife Lilian Tintori brought his case to Zeid two years ago.(VOA)

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Raja Chari: Indian American Astronaut chosen by NASA

Raja Chari, an American of Indian descent, has been chosen by NASA as one of the 12 astronauts for a new space mission.

Raja Chari. Twitter.
  • Raja Chari is an American of Indian descent chosen by NASA for the new batch of astronauts
  • Currently, he is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force
  • Chari will have to go through two years of astronaut training which begins in August

June 06, 2017: NASA has chosen 12 astronauts out of a record-breaking 18,300 applications for upcoming space missions. An American of Indian descent, Raja Chari, has successfully earned his spot in the top 12.

The astronauts were selected on the basis of expertise, education, and physical tests. This batch of 12 astronauts is the largest group selected by NASA since two decades. The group consisting of 7 men and 5 women surpassed the minimum requirements of NASA.

Born in Waterloo, Iowa, Chari graduated from Air Force Academy in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in Astronautical Engineering and Engineering Science. He went on to complete his master’s in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The astronaut is also a graduate of US Naval Test Pilot School.

Currently, Raja Chari is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force. He is the commander of 461st Flight Test Squadron and director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

After Late Kalpana Chawla, Lt. Col. Raja Chari is the second Indian American astronaut chosen by NASA.

The 12 astronauts will have to go through two years of training. Upon completion, they will be assigned their missions ranging from research at the International Space Station, launching from American soil on spacecraft by private companies, to flying on deep space missions on NASA’s Orion Spacecraft.

The US Vice-President Mike Pence visited the Johnson Space Centre in Houston to announce and congratulate the new batch. Pence also said that President Trump is “fully committed” to NASA’s missions in space.

by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2393