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“Love each other and be kind to yourself and to others, that’s my message to Indians,” says Santa Claus Timo Alarik Pakkanen

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Santa Claus for Christmas, Wikimedia

New Delhi, Dec 6, 2016: For almost 50 years, he has played Santa Claus — and now during his second visit to India, Timo Alarik Pakkanen from Finland advises people of this country to love others and be generous and kind to themselves.

“Love each other and be kind to yourself and to others, that’s my message to Indians,” Pakkanen, dressed in a Santa outfit, told IANS during an interaction at the Finland embassy here. He was accompanied by Nina Vaskunlahti, the Ambassador of Finland to India.

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Pakkanen, who has committed himself to the task of being Santa Claus, comes from the mysterious Korvatunturi (“Ear Fell”) in Finnish Lapland.

Perhaps one of the most famous names on the planet, this Santa Claus recognises his global influence and the responsibility that comes with it. He spends his time at the Santa Claus Village very day of the year to take care of his mission in life — to enhance the well being of children and the kindness of grown-ups, as well as spreading the message of love and goodwill of the Christmas Spirit across the globe.

For almost 40 years, he has lived the life of the fabled Santa Claus and has met and talked to people from over 82 countries and from 40 US states, 55 German cities and 24 cities from Britain.

He calls his experience of playing Santa as magical and the Christmas eve, magic.

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“The Christmas eve is a magical evening and that’s where all the magic happens. Whenever I meet people, they give me a smile and positivity and that’s the thing I like the most. So I get happiness from children,” he said.

He last visited India six years back as Santa Claus and this year has been equally special for him as people are more acceptable.

“Over the years, it has become more acceptable but I feel it’s the same everywhere. Some people are excited and some are a bit afraid and it’s same with children. Someone comes and hugs you immediately while some start to cry so it’s very different like the way people are different.

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“It’s the same every where you go. It doesn’t mater from where you come, whether it is Canada, China, India or Europe, it’s always kind of same thing,” he told IANS.

He landed in the capital on Sunday and started his trip by meeting a few school children in Vasant Vihar followed by a brunch at Hotel Leela Palace here. On Monday, he visited Gandhi Smriti and India Gate. On Tuesday, he was to visit Taj Mahal in Agra along with a few other places.

Asked how he plans to spread smiles in India at a time when demonetisation is the talk of the town, he told IANS: “My most important mission is to make people happy around me. Give happiness, joy and laughter but I am not here to solve your political problems or anything like that.” (IANS)

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US Officials Made ‘Fake’ Facebook Profiles to Nab Indians

The social network has also contacted the Department of Homeland Security about its policy on fake accounts

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Facebook, social media. Pixabay

Facebook has said that the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) violated its guidelines by creating fake profiles on its platform tied to the University of Farmington — a sham institution that left over 600 students, 90 per cent of them Indians, in detention.

The Facebook profiles were allegedly created by the ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) division, the Guardian reported on Thursday.

“Law enforcement authorities, like everyone else, are required to use their real names on Facebook and we make this policy clear on our public-facing aLaw Enforcement Guidelines’ page,” a Facebook representative told the daily.

“Operating fake accounts is not allowed, and we will act on any violating accounts.”

The University of Farmington had a website as well as Facebook and Twitter accounts – but did not have a campus or faculty.

About 600 foreign students had enrolled with the fake university floated by the US authorities under a sting operation. More than 80 per cent of these students were from the two Telugu states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

“In a network of suspicious Facebook accounts linked to the University of Farmington, the college’s alleged president, Ali ‘AJ’ Milani, liked the Michigan Jaguars sports club and had a 51-person friend list that was mostly people from South Asia,” the report claimed.

“Carey Ferrante, who did not list any link to the school but had interactions with persons interested in it, posted three photos of herself that were actually stock photos and sent Facebook messages to at least one person,” it added.

Facebook
Facebook App on a smartphone device. (VOA)

Facebook has now removed the University of Farmington accounts.

Each student had paid $20,000 to $25,000 to get enrolled in the fake university, which recruited students in 26 states across the US.

Confirming that 172 students have been arrested for civil immigration violations in the case, ICE’s north-east regional communications director Khaalid Walls declined to comment on the Facebook accounts.

The social network has also contacted the Department of Homeland Security about its policy on fake accounts.

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The US immigration officials kept 129 Indian students in “administrative detention” and arrested eight recruiters involved with the university.

At least 30 students from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana returned from the US in February. They were those who were not detained or served notices by the US authorities in the “pay-to-stay” fake university scam.

The External Affairs Ministry had issued a demarche to the US Embassy in New Delhi asserting that the students “have been duped into enrolling in the ‘university’ (and) should be treated differently from those recruiters who duped them”. (IANS)