Antwerpen Berchem – De Lijn

Antwerpen Berchem
De Lijn
25 November 2019

Tram 11 from Berchem Station to Melkmarkt

Tram 11 departing to Melkmarkt via Astridplein

Tram 4 from Silsburg to Hoboken

Tram 9 to P&R Linkeroever

Tram 9 to P&R Linkeroever

Tram 11 from Melkmarkt to Berchem Station

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue – UK Sikh couple who were told they cannot adopt a white child win case against racial discrimination

The court awarded them nearly £120,000 (approximately Rs 1.12 crore) in damages.

Steve Evans

A Sikh couple living in the United Kingdom won a landmark court battle against a local council that refused to let them adopt a child because of their Indian heritage. The court ruled that it was discriminatory and awarded them nearly £120,000 (approximately Rs 1.12 crore) in damages, The Guardian reported.

Sandeep Mander and Reena Mander were not allowed to join a list of approved adopters in 2016 because of their heritage. Adoption agency Adopt Berkshire told them “not to bother applying” and to try to adopt from the Indian subcontinent.

The agency had said that only white pre-school children were available for adoption. The couple, who are in their 30s and live in Maidenhead in Berkshire, eventually adopted a child from the US.

They tried to get the decision overturned and got the support of their then MP Theresa May as well as the Equality and Human Rights Commission. With the panel’s support, the Manders sued the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council for discrimination.

Judge Melissa Clarke of the Oxford County Court ruled that the “defendants directly discriminated against Mr and Mrs Mander on the grounds of race”. She awarded them general damages of £29,000 each and special damages of £60,000.

“I consider that there is clear evidence that Mr and Mrs Mander, who I have found expressed willingness to consider a child of any ethnicity, received less favourable treatment than would a comparable couple of a different ethnicity,” the judgement said.

“All of this discloses, in my judgment, what the unknown social worker stated in the very first phone call with Mr Mander, namely that Adopt Berkshire operated a policy of placing adoptive children with parents who come from the ‘same background’ namely race,” Clarke wrote in her judgement.

“I am satisfied that race was the criterion by which the unknown social worker decided not to book an initial visit with Mr and Mrs Mander, because the defendants have not satisfied me that there was any other criterion applied by that unknown social worker.”

The evidence shows that Adopt Berkshire refused to progress the Manders “on the assumption that it would not be in a putative child’s best interest to be matched with prospective adopters” of a different race, the judge said.

“This assumption was a stereotype which gave race a disproportionate importance as a factor regarding the welfare of children.”

The couple and their lawyers were elated and called it a landmark law. “This decision ensures that no matter what race, religion or colour you are, you should be treated equally and assessed for adoption in the same way as any other prospective adopter,” Sandeep Mander said.

His wife Reena Mander called the judgement a relief and said that they can now move on “knowing we have changed something for the better”.

The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead said it was disappointed by the judgement. “We have reviewed our policies to ensure they are fit for purpose and are confident that we do not exclude prospective adopters on the grounds of ethnicity,” a spokesperson said.

“Finally, we always put the best interests of the children at the heart of any adoption decisions and are committed to best practice in our provision of adoption services.”

Dawn – Resolution in US Congress seeks end to repression in occupied Kashmir

Anwar Iqbal

Washington DC – USA, 08 December 2019. A bipartisan resolution moved in the US Congress urges India to end the restrictions on communications and mass detentions in occupied Kashmir as swiftly as possible and preserve religious freedom for all residents.

Resolution 745 was jointly moved on Friday by Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat, and Congressman Steve Watkins, a Republican. Born in Madras (Chennai). Ms Jayapal is the first Indian-American woman to serve in the US House of Representatives. She is also a prominent human rights activist. Mr Watkins is a veteran of the Afghan war and conducted combat along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

The movers resolve that the House recognises the dire security challenges India faces in Jammu and Kashmir, including “cross-border terrorism,” but rejects arbitrary detention, use of excessive force against civilians, and suppression of peaceful expression of dissent as proportional responses to security challenges.

The resolution urges India to ensure that any actions taken in pursuit of legitimate security priorities respect the human rights of all people and adhere to international human rights law.

It also urges India to lift the remaining restrictions on communication and to restore internet access across the occupied valley as swiftly as possible.

The Indian government has been urged to refrain from the use of threats and excessive force against detained people and peaceful protesters and release detained people.

It urges the Indian government to refrain from conditioning the release of detained people on their willingness to sign bonds prohibiting any political activities and speeches.

New Delhi has been urged to allow international human rights observers and journalists to access the occupied valley and operate freely throughout India, without threats; and condemn, at the highest levels, all religiously motivated violence, including violence targeting religious minorities.

The resolution reminds India that international human rights law holds that all people have the right to freedom of opinion and expression, including freedom to practice, worship, or observe one’s own religion.

The movers note that on 05 August, the Indian government cut all telephone service and internet access in the occupied valley.

Tolo News – Documents reveal major embezzlement case at Aqina Port

Tamim Hamid

Aqina Dry Port – Faryab – Afghanistan, 07 December 2019. Documents seen by Tolo-News reveal that Habibullah, the ex-head of Astras company, is accused of embezzling 180 million afs and $830,000. Astras operates at the Aqina dry port in Faryab.

The Afghan Ministry of Interior and officials from the Attorney General’s office have said they are investigating reports of embezzlement by Habibullah.

The Ministry of Finance also confirmed the report, saying that Mr Habibullah, the ex-head of Astras company for Aqina port in Faryab, is under scrutiny by Afghan legal agencies.

Habibullah’s whereabouts are unknown.

The document sent to the Attorney General by the acting head of Aqina Port Services Department on November 17 reads that Habibullah had withdrawn over $440,000 and 178 million afs from the bank account of Astras company.

Habibullah served in the post for seventeen years.

The second portion of the document shows that Habibullah also took out a loan of more than $392,000 and 1.3 million afs for purchasing a 100 acres of land for the company. But based on the document, he (Habibullah) never returned the amount and presumably embezzled it.

“This individual is under the watch of our colleagues, we have requested the security and intelligence agencies to arrest him and refer him to the Attorney General,” said Jamshid Rasuli, a spokesman for the Attorney General of Afghanistan.

“Directives have been issued to the relevant organs in the capital and in the provinces to carry out legal action as per the guidance of the honorable Attorney General’s Office,” said Nusrat Rahimi, a spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Interior.

Tolo-News reporters made several attempts to reach the ex-head of the Astras company for comment, but his mobile phones appear to be turned off. “Anyone, regardless of his post, who has plundered the national assets of Afghanistan should be served justice,” said MP Amir Mohammad Khaksar.

“The central government, the National Unity Government, the Ministry of Finance, the National Security Council and the president are aware of this, but they are not able to control embezzlement of funds in Aqina port,” said MP Baktash Eshchi.

Astras also has offices in Hairatan and Torghundi ports of Afghanistan.

Astras is one of the largest joint corporations between Afghanistan and the former Soviet Union. The company started working in Afghanistan in 1983 for the purpose of trade and shipping. – SGPC seeks passports from Sikhs aspirant of celebrating Vaisakhi in Pakistan

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 07 December 2019. The apex Sikh body Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhik Committee has sought passports from the Sikhs aspirant of celebrating next year’s Vaisakhi at Gurdwara Sri Panja Sahib (Pakistan). Notably, the Sikh jatha from India will depart from India to celebrate Vaisakhi in April-2020.

Sharing the development with media, SGPC secretary Manjit Singh Bath informed that the aspirant Sikh devotees can submit their passports at SGPC’s headquarters in Amritsar Sahib by 30 December. “A proof of identity, either Aadhar Card or Voter Card, passport size fresh photographs along with a recommendation letter from the concerned SGPC constituency will also be required,” he added.

SGPC seeks passports from Sikhs aspirant of celebrating Vaisakhi in Pakistan

Gent Dampoort – Antwerpen Berchem – NMBS & De Lijn

Gent Dampoort
25 November 2019

Going to Antwerpen on VOEM business

Cycles and cars outside the station

Antwerpen Berchem
NMBS – De Lijn
25 November 2019

NMBS Station

The square in between the train and the bus and tram station

Tram 9 to Eksterlaar and bus 91 to Waarloos

PCC from Berchem to Melkmarkt

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Hindustan Times – Kartarpur travel not allowed, US citizen creates scene at ICP

His travel documents were not complete

HT Correspondent

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, A young Sikh US citizen created a scene at the Integrated Check Post (ICP) here on Friday when he was denied passage to Kartarpur Sahib as his travel documents were not complete.

According to the information, Amritpal Singh, 23, went to the immigration counter and showed the slip that he had applied online for travel to Kartarpur Sahib. When the officials asked for the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) slip, he failed to produce that.

He argued with the immigration officials and created a scene after which the officials called the BSF, who took him out of the ICP.

It is also learnt that officials of the IB also questioned him and later he was handed over to Batala police.

Batala SSP Opinderjeet Singh Ghuman said they were investigating. During preliminary questioning, the police found nothing objectionable. “If the immigration officials lodge a complaint against him, action will be taken accordingly, otherwise, he will be released soon,” he said.

Amritpal has a valid passport and Oversees Citizen of India (OCI) card and after showing these cards. As per the guidelines, a foreign national is allowed to travel only if he/she has the OCI card and once the application is received online, ETA is issued, which is necessary for the pilgrimage. – India is the fifth most vulnerable country to effects of climate change, says new report

In 2018, India saw extreme weather conditions, causing economic losses of Rs 2.7 lakh crore, nearly as much as its defence budget.

Bhasker Tripathi

Bonn – North-Rhine-Westphalia – Germany, 07 December 2019. India is the fifth most vulnerable of 181 countries to the effects of climate change, with its poorest being the most at risk, according to a new report released on 04 December. Japan is the most vulnerable, followed by the Philippines, Germany and Madagascar.

India had 2,081 deaths in 2018 due to extreme weather events caused by climate change, cyclones, heavy rainfall, floods and landslides, found the 15th edition of the Global Climate Risk Index 2020, prepared by Bonn-based think-tank Germanwatch. It had the highest number of deaths compared to other countries.

Overall, India’s economic losses due to climate change were the second-highest in the world, with a loss of Rs 2.7 lakh crore, nearly as much as its defence budget in 2018, the report said. This translates to losing about 0.36% per unit of gross domestic product.

The report comes as representatives of 197 countries around the world meet at Spain’s capital, Madrid, for the annual climate discussions, at the 25th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change – COP25.

The Global Climate Risk Index is based on an analysis of worldwide data on extreme weather events provided by German reinsurer MunichRe’s NatCatSERVICE, a comprehensive database of natural catastrophes. The index does not take into account the slower processes of rising sea levels, glacier melting or more acidic and warmer seas due to climate change.

Extreme weather events

India’s overall ranking on the index slipped nine points from 14th in 2017 to fifth in 2018 because of extreme weather events. “The yearly monsoon season, lasting from June to September, severely affected India in 2018,” the report said, explaining the reason for the drop in the ranking.

In Kerala, 324 people died because of drowning or being buried in the landslides set off by the flooding; over 220,000 people had to leave their homes; 20,000 houses and 80 dams were destroyed, with the damage amounting to Rs 20,000 crore, the report said.

India’s east coast was also hit by two cyclones, Titli and Gaja, in October and November 2018, respectively. With wind speeds of up to 150 km per hour, cyclone Titli killed at least eight people and left around 450,000 without electricity, the report said.

India also suffered from one of the longest ever recorded heatwaves in 2018, with temperatures rising to 48 degree Celsius, resulting in hundreds of deaths. This, compounded with a water shortage, led to prolonged drought, widespread crop failures, violent riots and increased migration.

The worst-hit regions in the central, northern and western parts of the country, were also among India’s poorest, the report said.

Since 2004, India has experienced 11 of its 15 warmest recorded years since record-keeping began in 1901, and an estimated 25,000 Indians have died as a result of heatwaves since 1992, the report said.

India is particularly vulnerable to extreme heat due to low per capita income, social inequality and a heavy reliance on agriculture. India would lose 5.8% of its working hours due to heat stress by 2050, which is equivalent to 34 million full-time jobs out of a total of 80 million worldwide.

In India, agriculture and construction, the two biggest employers, will bear the brunt of this loss in productivity, the report said.

India’s overall ranking on the index has been fluctuating over the past five years. But it has always been the country with one of the five highest economic losses due to climate change. It has also had the most deaths due to extreme weather events in four of five years.
The index ranked 181 countries in 2018, 124 in 2017, 182 in 2016, 135 in 2015 and 138 in 2014. Source: Global Climate Risk Index.

Poor countries worst-hit

Germanwatch also created a long-term index of climate change vulnerability, based on data on the impact of climate change over 20 years between 1999 and 2018. India ranked 17th among the most vulnerable countries. Puerto Rico was the most vulnerable followed by Myanmar, Haiti, the Philippines and Pakistan.

Of the 10 most affected countries and territories in the long-term index, seven are low income or lower-middle income, two, Thailand and Dominica, are upper-middle income and one, Puerto Rico, is a high income country. Lower income countries are the hardest hit by climate change and have lower coping capacity, the Germanwatch report said.

This is a daily reality for millions of people in the global south living on the frontline of the crisis. It is the communities in India whose lives and livelihoods were devastated by two severe cyclones this year, and the increasingly severe and deadly flooding and torrential rainfall, Harjeet Singh, global lead on climate change for ActionAid, a non-profit, said.

The Germanwatch report suggested that the ongoing COP25 take steps to support countries that suffer future loss and damage, make financial resources available for these countries, and strengthen measures for adapting to climate change.

The civil society report held the US and the EU responsible for 54% of the cost of climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Rich countries and polluting industries responsible for climate change should put together a new fund to support survivors of climate disasters, Singh said. “COP25 is a crucial opportunity to change the current, unjust system that is pushing countries and communities further into poverty and debt.”

This article first appeared on IndiaSpend, a data-driven and public-interest journalism non-profit.