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Washington: President Barack Obama took a victory lap highlighting his successes of 2015 from thawing relations with Cuba to halting Iran’s nuclear programme to bringing China, India and Brazil on board for a historic climate deal.

The Paris climate change agreement “would not have happened without American leadership,” he said addressing a year-end press conference at the White House Friday before flying off to Hawaii for a two-week vacation with his family.


“…working with other countries, culminating in the joint announcement with China, bringing in India, bringing in Brazil and the other big, emerging countries, working with the Europeans and getting this done.”

“And, by the way, the same is true for the Iran nuclear deal. The same is true for the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” said Obama. “The same is true for stamping out Ebola — something, you guys may recall from last year, which was the potential end of the world.”

“This year, what you really saw was that steady, persistent leadership on many initiatives that I began when I first came into office,” he said.

Obama also claimed progress against ISIS, saying the group has lost 40 percent of the area it once held in Iraq and is losing ground in Syria, but acknowledged that the government could not stop all potential strikes in advance.

“We are going to defeat ISIS,” Obama said, insisting that US airstrikes in Syria and Iraq were hitting the group “harder than ever” and were taking the group’s leaders, commanders and forces off the battlefield.

But he warned the group would continue to be a menace: “In any fight, even as you make progress, there are still dangers involved.”

Obama admitted that ISIS’ new focus on orchestrating and inspiring spontaneous terror attacks on the West — often by radicalised individuals — would be much more difficult to stop in advance than the more intricate plots once organized by Al Qaeda.

“It is very difficult for us to detect lone wolf plots or plots involving a husband and wife,” Obama said, referring to the San Bernardino, California, attack by a Pakistani-origin couple earlier this month that killed 14 people.

Obama also took a jab at Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying he had predicted that the Russian operation in Syria would not change the shape of the battlefield between Moscow-backed President Bashar al-Assad and his internal foes.

“I do think you have seen from the Russians that after a couple of months they are not really moving the needle that much,” he said.

Obama insisted that he would use his final year to continue to try to close a detention camp for terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, arguing that it remained an important recruiting tool for jihadists around the world.(Arun Kumar, IANS)


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A Jain monk offering ablution to Bahubali in Shravanabelagola

Atop the Vindhyagiri hills in Karnataka, a 57-foot-tall statue stands. This is the statue of Lord Gomateshwara, or Bahubali, as he is known to the local patrons. The surrounding area is filled with temples where each of the many Jain Tirthankaras sits.

Sharavanabelagola is named after a pond that is located at the foothills. 'Bel' in Kannada means white, and 'kola' means pond. This is a sacred water body to the activities of the temples. It is a tourist attraction and a pilgrim destination located 85 kilometres from Mysore, and 145 kilometres from the capital, Bangalore.

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IANS

The aim of the book is to teach children that families can exist in different forms, and show them how to accept the diversity in family backgrounds.

By Siddhi Jain

Delhi-based author Pritisha Borthakur is set to release her new book, 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories'. The 1,404-word children's book was put together to address a new kind of societal debacle in the family system. The author says the aim is to teach children that families can exist in different forms, and show them how to accept the diversity in family backgrounds.

The author who named the book after her twin sons -- Puhor and Niyor -- is a parent who has seen and heard the tales of ridicule and discrimination suffered by many in India and beyond. She says the book is an artistic illustration for kids that details how different families can live and coexist. Whether it's children with two dads or two moms, children with a single dad or single mom, and even multiracial family units, Borthakur's book teaches love, understanding, and compassion towards unconventional families.

Beyond race, gender, color, and ethnicity which have formed the bases for discrimination since the beginning of time, this book aims to bring to light a largely ignored issue. For so long, single parents have been treated like a taboo without any attempt to understand their situations; no one really cares how or why one's marriage ended but just wants to treat single parents as villains simply for choosing happiness and loving their children.

Homosexual parents, a relatively new family system, is another form that has suffered hate and discrimination for many years. Pritisha emphasizes the need to understand that diversity in people and family is what makes the world beautiful and colourful. 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories' is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination on the bases of sexual identity, gender, race, and even differences in background

four children standing on dirt during daytime 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories' is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination on the bases of sexual identity, gender, race and even differences in background. | Photo by Ben Wicks on Unsplash


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Clean and maintained hands boost confidence in daily life activities.

If you feel that clean and well-groomed hands are just an essential prerequisite for women, you might like to think twice. Men should equally pay attention to their hands because our hand houses 1,500 bacteria living on each square centimeter of its skin. You can easily assume what havoc it can create in our body because in India we have the culture of eating with our hands and spaces beneath nails can become breeding heaven for germs. Moreover, clean and maintained hands boost confidence in their daily life activities. Therefore, it's important to keep your hands clean irrespective of your gender by washing or sanitizing at regular intervals. And, to keep them groomed, you don't have to visit a salon.

Rajesh U Pandya, Managing Director, KAI India, gives easy and completely doable tips to follow at home:

* Refrain from harsh soaps: You should be mindful of the soap you are using to wash your hands. Your soap can have a moisturizing element in it like aloe vera or shea butter. Ensure that you're washing your hands with normal water as hot water can make your hand's skin dry and scaly.

Soap bars organic You should be mindful of the soap you are using to wash your hands. | Photo by Aurélia Dubois on Unsplash

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