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Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) pulls out about 6,500 people from 40 ships off the coast of Libya en route to Europe

Abraha is a relative of the migrant and paid about $2,000 to smugglers in Libya to help him cross the Mediterranean

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Migrants sailing in a crowded wooden boat carrying more than seven hundred migrants, are helped by members of an NGO during a rescue operation at the Mediterranean sea, about 13 miles north of Sabratha, Libya, Aug. 29, 2016. (VOA)

In what one rescuer called an “extraordinary day,” about 6,500 people on Monday were pulled from some 40 ships off the coast of Libya en route to Europe.

Nicholas Papachrysostomou, field coordinator for Dignity I, a rescue ship in the Mediterranean operated by Doctors Without Borders, or Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), said the scale is unprecedented.

“All together, the number is awe-inspiring,” Papachrysostomou said. “In the history of search and rescue operation in the central Mediterranean, I don’t think we’ve ever seen this figure on one single day.”

The day began with MSF rescuers responding to a distress call relayed from the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Rome. In a harrowing scene caught on camera by the Associated Press, rescuers encountered 600 to 700 people crammed inside a wooden boat. Nearby, were another 18 to 20 rubber boats, each with about 120 people on board, he said.

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MSF helped rescue about 3,000 people, and the Italian Coast Guard coordinated efforts to save about 3,500 more in separate operations. Calm water and low-winds during the morning were the reasons for the high numbers of people setting off for Europe that day, Papachrysostomou said.

Many of the refugees were from Eritrea and Somalia, although large numbers also originated from West Africa.

The wet personal belonging of a migrant man are spread out to dry in the sun after he was rescued from the Mediterranean sea, about 13 miles north of Sabratha, Libya, Monday, Aug. 29, 2016 (VOA)

Papachrysostomou said rescuers saw signs of physical abuse, malnourishment and suffering from exposure to the elements.

“The older ones are more vulnerable and the little children,” he said. “We come across cases where people are quite sick (from nausea). There’s hyperthermia. There’s fever. There are a number of conditions as a result of the journey, but we also have to consider that in order to get to Libya these people have had a long journey from their country,” he said as the migrants were being taken to Vibo Valentia, in southern Italy. “So they come with accumulated fatigue – and not just physical but also psychological.”

Abraha is a relative of the migrant and paid about $2,000 to smugglers in Libya to help him cross the Mediterranean.

The migrant’s journey began two years earlier in the town of Halay near Adi-Keyih, Eritrea. He left home because he saw no future there, Abraha said.

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“They want to lead their lives freely, and that’s why they left. That is their dream and their first goal is to lead their lives, be it through education and other means, and then they want to help others, families, they left behind.”

After leaving Eritrea, a two-year journey took Abraha’s relative from Ethiopia and Sudan to Libya. There, he fell in with smugglers and, according to Abraha, suffered beatings when he didn’t pay the money he owed.

“I know his voice… and I asked him because I was confused. I said why has your voice changed? He said they are beating me because I didn’t pay money and I am in bad condition.”

For Abraha’s relative and untold other migrants, a dramatic rescue at sea is only the latest chapter in a journey controlled by abusive smugglers. That’s why MSF, the Italian Coast Guard and other rescuers see saving lives as part of a broader mission to dismantle the smuggling networks that fuel Mediterranean migration.

To prevent smugglers from reusing their boats, military vessels destroy them after migrants have been safely evacuated, Papachrysostomou said.

These activities are part of Operation Sofia, a European Union effort to curtail migration by disrupting smugglers’ and traffickers’ business models.

Safe and legal passage to Europe is the only way to keep migrants out of the hands of smugglers, Papachrysostomou said.

“And this is why we believe, in Doctors without Borders, we believe that it is very important to reconsider the European policy. It is important to reconsider safe and legal passage because, the moment they don’t have this, this is when they would actually look for the smugglers, and this is where the smugglers become very important because they are the only way to get them across.” (VOA)

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  • Kabir Chaudhary

    The huge influx of migrants to Europe needs to be contained. UNHCR and other such organisation needs to do a better job in providing safe and legal passage.

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Russia Registers 2nd Highest COVID Cases Globally, Surpasses Spain and UK

Russia registered 232,243 cases on Tuesday, 2nd highest globally

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coronavirus
Establishing a new world order in the times of corona will not be an easy task. Pixabay

The number of coronavirus cases in Russia has increased to 232,243 on Tuesday, the 2nd highest number of infections in the world surpassing the tallies in Spain and the UK, the country’s anti-coronavirus crisis centre said.

The tally surged to 232,243 after the 10,899 cases were reported over the past 24 hours, TASS News Agency quoted the centre as saying.

A total of 43,512 patients have recovered, while 2,116 people have died, it added.

According to the centre’s data, the daily growth rate on Tuesday was 4.9 per cent compared to 5.6 per cent the day before.

healthcare workers COVID-19
The centre’s data revealed that the daily growth rate on Tuesday was 4.9 per cent compared to 5.6 per cent the day before. VOA

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As of Tuesday, the number of coronavirus cases in Spain and the UK stood at 227,436 and 224,332, respectively, according to the Washington-based Johns Hopkins University.

Italy came in the fifth place with 219,814 cases, while the US accounted for the highest number of infections in the world at 1,347,936. (IANS)

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Trump Universe Comes to A Stalemate

The tale of Donal Trump and his petty politics continues

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Trump
Trump failing at handelling the crisis. Pixabay

BY SAEED NAQVI

When the tortoise agreed to ferry a stranded scorpion on its back across the river, which was in spate, he didn’t know what he had bargained for. Midway, the scorpion stung the tortoise, deep, through its hard shell.

“Why have you done this?” asked the tortoise. “Now we shall both drown.”

“It’s in my nature,” said the scorpion.

Given its own self-esteem, the US should have been “ferrying” the world through the coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, the country is itself so overwhelmed by Corona that it has no time for leadership. Fair enough, let the US attend to protecting its people. But Trump’s Washington is not only making a mess of its own crisis, but it is also aggravating the world’s problems. The tortoise did not live to digest the lesson: a cooperative order is simply not possible with Trump.

If US capitalism in the post-Cold War world were scripted like a Webster melodrama, the audience should prepare itself for some frenetic tattooing by the “scorpion”. Even as the world is focused on fighting coronavirus, US claws are out, groping the Venezuelan coastline, using Columbian territory as its very own. Eight mercenaries are reported dead, even as two pedigreed Americans are in Venezuelan custody, presumably, singing like canaries by now. Wordsmiths have already named the expedition as the “Bay of kids”, so infantile has this latest US adventure been to unseat President Nicolas Maduro. Former US Green Beret, Jordan Goudreau has claimed responsibility. President Trump has closed his gloves in front of his face like a pugilist on the defensive. “I knew nothing about it.”

Of course, he knew just about as much as he did about the founder of Blackwater, Erik Prince’s idea of “privatizing” the Afghan War. Don’t laugh, Prince’s 100-page dossier spelt out details of how Afghanistan should be privately governed. The proposal was considered by freaks in the administration. According to the plan, Afghanistan would be ruled, just as India was, under a Viceroy. The plan was shot down. But Prince proved his resourcefulness once again in Venezuela. According to The Guardian, London, Prince secretly met one of Maduro’s closest allies, Vice President Delcy Rodriguez who also looks after security. About eight months ago, Prince was suggesting an invasion of Venezuela by “a private army of 5,000.” This was after the US had recognized Juan Guaido as the OPEC nation’s “legitimate President.” Which side of the street was Prince playing? The tricks have not worked. Trump will have to go into elections with a military failure in his backyard. Will his cohorts allow him to?

The US
The US criples against the pandemic fight. Pixabay

The world has been persuaded to put its head down on Corona. But this does not come in the way of Trump’s military adventure: holding US-Sri Lanka joint training in March and April at Sri Lanka’s Air and Naval base in Trincomalee, despite a ban on travel because of the pandemic.

This military bonhomie at a time when the coronavirus stricken aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, has been advised to dock at Guam. More than 4,500 crew members have been moved ashore. The spike in corona cases among the Sri Lankan Navy and Army can be traced to the companionship with US military personnel.

How can one raise fingers at the island nation’s obsequiousness when the great nation to its north circumvents its own rules to ship Hydroxychloroquine to the US because Trump has threatened “retaliation” if he were not helped in his hour of need.

This is not all. The man who is building a wall to keep Mexicans out, delivers a stark message to his southern neighbour: American economic interest supersede Mexican health interests. In other words, allow workers to operate factories essential not for Mexico but to the US — pandemic or no pandemic.

Germans coped with that mentality in March: the Trump administration tried to lure a German firm, CureVac, to the US. This is not where the audacity ends. The vaccine, jointly developed, would be available to the Americans first. The Angela Merkel establishment politely showed US negotiators the door.

In the German episode, the US comes across as almost elegant compared to the highway robbery at the tarmac of Chinese airport loading protection gear against the virus’ for European destinations. American “highwaymen” paid three times the amount and diverted the equipment to the US. French officials called it the “war of masks”.

Donal Trump
Donal Trump and his petty politics don’t pause even in the wake of a world pandemic. Pixabay

Meanwhile across the sea, Trump’s Sancho Panza (or is it the other way around), Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu is stepping up airstrikes against Syria, attempting Drone assassinations of Hezbollah field commanders, and, in brief, trying to pulverize the “axis of resistance”, with Iran as the prime target. The idea is to provoke just sufficient retaliation to enable Netanyahu to survive corruption charges, also to give Trump an opportunity to beat war drums, always a useful strategy in the election season, particularly when ratings are not promising.

The “Bay of kids” and his Gulf gyrations pale before the high wire act he appears to be developing (or bluffing) vis-a-vis China. Martin Wolf of the Financial Times is one of the many commentators who have chastised Trump’s “irresponsible” diatribe without any credible evidence.

The supremacist, neo-Nazi rally at Charlottesville, Virginia, some years ago, attended openly by the KKK and sundry white nationalists, created ripples and waves which never really subsided. “There are very fine people on both sides” was Trump’s immortal observation, balancing between Klansmen and counter-protestors.

From that persona, Trump never really distanced himself. The result is rampaging anti-Semitism. Israel’s respected newspaper Haaretz has expressed concern. Several protests against the measures taken by states to control coronavirus have featured swastikas and worse.

Also Read: Fair is foul and foul is fair in the Trump universe (Comment)

Jewish Centre for Public Affairs CEO, David Bernstein is convinced, that “as more people become economically disaffected the more they will look for scapegoats.” Since the economic downslide is on an epic scale, so will corresponding racism grow in the US and elsewhere. Should this President get a second term, we shall all surely go down like that tortoise, gasping. (IANS)

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Modi Enterprises Take to Zero-Based Budgeting in The Wake of Covid Crisis

Modi Enterprises has taken to zero-based budgeting to curb unwarranted expenditure

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Zero-based budgeting
Modi Enterprises switches to zero-based budgeting amidst Covid crisis. Pixabay.

In the wake of the coronavirus crisis and the unforeseen financial impact, Modi Enterprises has taken to zero-based budgeting to curb unwarranted expenditure, said the conglomerate’s Managing Director Samir Modi.

Talking to IANS, Modi also said that the group has postponed several of its major expansion and other corporate plans to the next financial year on the back of the disruptions by the pandemic.

On the need for change in strategy by businesses, Modi said strategies and working models would have to change now on and the group has accepted the changes.

“We have to reset and relearn ourselves,” he said. The founder of 24SEVEN, Modicare and Colorbar also said that work-from-home would be a major focus for the group wherever feasible.

“We have instituted zero-based budgeting process which we never did before. Basically zero-based budgeting process is that you take all cost as zero, you realign the cost and then you cut out all cost that is not needed to be done and all managers have to justify the cost they have put into the budget,” Modi said.

 

Zero-based budgeting
Zero-based budgeting the new way fro Modi enterprises. Pixabay

Zero-based budgeting allows top-level strategic goals to be implemented into the budgeting process by tying them to specific functional areas of the organization, where costs can be first grouped and then measured against previous results and current expectations. It can help lower costs by avoiding blanket increases or decreases to a prior period’s budget.

In an interaction with IANS, Samir Modi also stressed on the significance of work-from-home going ahead and said that Modi Enterprises would look to adopt remote operations wherever possible.

He said that working from home may become a major factor and companies, including his, would have to ensure how e-learning, e-business compensates for coming to work. Modi noted that six months ago he would have been averse to the idea of work-from-home but now it may be a major feature in the group’s operations.

“A lot of rethinking would be required,” he said, while speaking about the need to align the operations and working environment to the social distancing norms.

The entrepreneur further informed that the home delivery would be major focus with 24SEVEN convenience store chain already rolling out the services in select places. The chain has tied up with Swiggy, Zomato and Dunzo and several of the stores have themselves taken to home deliveries.

Zero-based budgeting
Modi enterprises resort to Zero-based budgeting. Pixabay.

Emphasising the need for the significance of the essential goods segment, he said that essential items will be a major segment in 24SEVEN and Modicare, irrespective of the pandemic subsiding. “Because people will be more conscious of safety and health and that will continue,” he said. He added that Colorbar is also coming up with essential items.

Speaking on the implications of the pandemic on expansion and other corporate plans, he noted that several plans and their executions have been postponed till the next fiscal due to the recent disruptions.

Modi said that the cosmetics brand Colorbar recently acquired a proprietary company in Paris and the revamp of the acquired brand has been put on hold.

Also Read: Smarter Ways to Keep Food Fresh for A Longer Period

Further, the company’s plan of expanding the 24SEVEN network to Bengaluru in the south also has been postponed to the financial year 2021-22, he told IANS. (IANS)