PM Modi calls for a weeklong ‘Swachhta Abhiyan’

Ravi S Singh

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 8

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday gave a call for a week-long campaign against “uncleanliness”, starting today till Independence Day.

In his speech after inaugurating Rashtriya Swachhta Kendra (RSK), Modi said a call for Quit India agitation was made by Mahatma Gandhi against British imperialism in India, this day in 1942.

“Let as observe a week-long ‘Uncleanliness, Out from India!” campaign in commemoration of the attainment of “Swaraj” following the Quit India campaign, he said.

The RSK, set up near Rajghat here, is an “interactive experience centre” on Swachh Bharat Mission. Its purpose is to provide knowledge on the success and journey of the mission which achieved the goal to make India open-defecation free (ODF).

The ODF Mission was the biggest people movement undertaken by any country in the world, and was hinged on behavioural change. Modi asked district authorities concerned to repair the community toilets in their areas, among others, during the weeklong campaign.

He said in hindsight, the country’s six-year long Swachh Bharat Mission has proved to be pragmatic as it has helped fight coronavirus.

“Imagine the spread of Corona in the country had the situation remained the same like pre-2014,” Modi said, and added that social distancing, among others, would have been difficult to maintain in the absence of toilets at home.

He said all the villages of the country declared themselves ODF by the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi last year. He pitched for achieving “ODG plus”.

He said Gandhi was a visionary in linking cleanliness with struggle for Independence.

“Uncleanliness robs a person of vitality. It demoralises him and plagues him with diseases,” Modi said stressing on the need to sustain the present efforts of cleanliness.

Modi interacted with 36 schoolhildren from all the States and UTs in the 360 degree amphitheatre constructed in the RSK, and said children played a role in success of the ODF campaign and other aspects of Swachh Bharat campaign.

Detroit Tigers score vs. Pittsburgh Pirates: Live scoring updates

Detroit Tigers (6-5) vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (3-11)

When: 4:05 p.m.

Where: PNC Park, Pittsburgh.

TV: Fox Sports Detroit, Fox Sports 1.

Radio: WXYT-FM (97.1; other radio affiliates).

First-pitch weather forecast: Mostly sunny, 86 degrees.

Probable starting pitchers: Tigers RHP Ivan Nova (0-0, 4.22 ERA) vs. Pirates LHP Derek Holland (0-0, 4.76 ERA).

Tigers lineup:

SS Niko Goodrum

2B Jonathan Schoop

DH Miguel Cabrera

1B C.J. Cron

3B Jeimer Candelario

RF Travis Demeritte

LF Victor Reyes

C Grayson Greiner

CF JaCoby Jones

P Ivan Nova

About last night:

Jeimer Candelario showed up when the Tigers needed him most

Tigers get sweet taste of new extra innings rule: ‘Trying to figure this out’

Twitter updates

Can’t see the tweets? View on Twitter.

Contact Kirkland Crawford: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @HiKirkHere.

Mumbai police probe an ‘eyewash’, Sushant’s father tells SC

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 8

Terming the Mumbai Police probe into the unnatural death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput an “eyewash”, his father has accused them of attempting to shield Rhea Chakraborty who is now being investigated by CBI as an accused in the case.

In an affidavit filed in the top court in response to Rhea’s plea for transfer of an FIR registered against her in Patna to Mumbai, Sushant’s father KK Singh said her petition has become infructuous after the CBI took over the probe.

If the Mumbai Police didn’t find any evidence against Rhea in 54 days, it only reflected that the state was trying to shield her “for the reason best known to them”, Singh said, apprehending destruction of evidence and attempts to influence witnesses.

Singh’s affidavit came a day after Bihar government alleged before the Supreme Court that Rhea gave drug overdose to actor Sushant Singh Rajput who was found dead in his Bandra home on June 14 under suspicious circumstances. She came in contact with Sushant only to grab money, it added.

Ahead of the August 11 hearing, Maharashtra government is also said to have filed a detailed report in a sealed cover in the top court on the probe conducted by Mumbai Police in the case.

Rea, said to be the deceased actor’s girlfriend, is now being probed as an accused in the case by the CBI after an FIR lodged against her in Patna got transferred to the central agency.

Through her social media account, Rhea had requested the Union Home Minister for a CBI inquiry and now that it has become a reality.

“However, now it seems that the Petitioner (Rhea) has taken a complete U-turn against the investigation being conducted by the CBI,” Singh submitted.

Singh said he had informed the Mumbai police about his apprehension regarding the threat to Sushant’s life but no action was taken resulting in his son’s death.

In its affidavit filed in the court on Saturday, the Maharashtra Government opposed registration of FIR by Bihar Police and its subsequent transfer to the CBI.

It said, “Not a single legally permissible and sustainable ground existed, nor does it exist, either for the registration of the FIR at Patna or for the transfer of such non-maintainable FIR to the CBI.”

Bihar Police could have registered a zero FIR and transferred the same to Bandra Police Station in Mumbai, it said.

Accusing the CBI of showing indecent haste in taking over the probe into the Patna FIR, Mumbai police said it spoke of the agency’s bonafide in the entire exercise.

The CBI should not have gone ahead and registered a FIR in the case on Bihar government’s request, it said.

Mumbai police said the CBI should not have constituted a team for probe into Sushant’s death and the agency should have waited for the top court’s decision on Rhea’s petition for transfer of the  FIR registered at Patna to Mumbai.

Michigan confirms 698 new coronavirus cases, 3 deaths

The state health department has reported an additional 698 coronavirus cases since Friday, bringing the state total to 86,889 as of Saturday.

Michigan’s death toll also increased Saturday with three new deaths reported. This brings the state total to 6,250.

More: Michigan coronavirus cases: Tracking the pandemic

The state also reported 9,302 probable cases and 270 probable deaths, for a total of 96,191 cases and 6,520 deaths.

Contact Miriam Marini: [email protected]

More women cricketers to get annual contract in Punjab

Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, August 8

The Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) will increase the number of female cricketers in its annual contract system, a decision taken by its Apex Council today.

The meeting was held under the chairmanship of PCA president Rajinder Gupta and was attended by a majority of the members. The meeting lasted five hours and as many as 24 points on the agenda were discussed.

According to Puneet Bali, PCA secretary, the house approved the inclusion of 10 female players along with 30 male players under the annual contract system.

However, the names suggested will be securitised again before making a final list.

“The contract system has been more or less approved by the council. However senior selectors of both male and female teams have decided to scrutinise the players on the basis of their performance before announcing the final list,” said Bali.

He further added, “The number of female players has been increased to 10.”

The council has also decided to release a grant of Rs 7 lakh for senior selectors and Rs 5 lakh for junior selectors.

“In principle, it has been decided to increase the grant for senior selectors to Rs 7 lakh, and for junior selectors to Rs 5 lakh. The allocation of funds to the districts has been increased to Rs 8 lakh for minors and Rs 12.5 lakh for majors.”

It has also been decided that district secretaries and presidents will submit their requirements and an inspection team will allocate the budget to develop infrastructure. “The district secretaries and presidents will submit their requirements in order to improve infrastructure at their respective stadiums. After receiving the requests, a PCA inspection team will be formed. It will make sure about allocation of budget and its implementation for developing the required infrastructure,” added Bali.

The council also approved a bonus of Rs 40,000 for the PCA ground staff and office workers, who are performing duties despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Upgrading stadium

The council also decided to upgrade the IS Bindra Stadium within a period of six to nine months. “Since an international cricket academy is to be developed here, we have to upgrade the facilities, including upgrading the grounds, gyms, swimming pools, rooms, apart from other infrastructure,” said Bali.

Centre alerts states, industry to be vigilant about ‘mystery seed parcels’

New Delhi, August 8

The Centre has alerted state governments as well as the seed industry and research bodies to be vigilant about “suspicious/unsolicited seed parcels” from unknown sources entering into India which can be a threat to the country’s biodiversity.

A directive in this regard has been issued, the agriculture ministry said as in the last few months thousands of suspicious seed shipments have been reported across the world.

The threat of “unsolicited/suspicious seed parcels with mislabelled packages from unknown sources” was reported in many countries like the US, Canada, the UK, New Zealand, Japan and some European nations, it said.

 The ministry also mentioned that “the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) termed it as “brushing scam” and “agriculture smuggling”.

The USDA has also reported that the unsolicited seeds parcels may contain seeds of alien invasive species or an attempt to introduce pathogens or disease that may pose serious threat to the environment, agriculture ecosystem and national security, it added.

The agriculture ministry said unsolicited/mystery seed parcels can be a threat to biodiversity of India.

Therefore, all state departments of agriculture, state agriculture universities, seed associations, state seed certification agencies, seed corporations, Indian Council of Agriculture vis-a-vis their crop based research institutes are directed to be “vigilant” about the suspicious seed parcels, it stated.

Commenting on the directive, Federation of Seed Industry of India Director General Ram Kaundinya in a statement said, “Right now it is only an alert for a possible spread of plant diseases through seeds coming from unauthorised sources without orders. Seed terrorism is too big a word to use for it. There are limitations to what diseases a seed can carry. But nevertheless, it is a threat.”  He said that these seeds could be of an invasive species or weed which if established in Indian environment will compete or displace native species.

“It’s best to proactively work to avoid their release than to have to bear huge costs for controlling them in future. All of us should be careful not to use any seed coming from unknown sources.”  Plant quarantine and customs checks at ports and airports have to be stringent. This situation can be handled through vigilance and by following precautions, he said.

“People in the US have received such unsolicited packets and subsequently, the USDA issued an alert. We should not plant seeds that have come to us unsolicited and destroy them immediately,” Kaundinya added. — PTI

Not everyone is thrilled about proposed rocket launch site in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Mary Little had just finished making a batch of thimbleberry jam, and she had a few things to say about a proposed vertical rocket launch site in the wilds of the Upper Peninsula.

“Anything that close to Lake Superior is concerning. It should be concerning to everybody, and fuels and heat and water usage … anybody who cares about this lake should be concerned about this,” said Little, 69, who moved to the area from downstate in 1976.

Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes, is a precious resource, and she’s worried about what will happen if rockets start blasting off into space within miles of her house, which has a view of the lake and the cliffs nearby.

She’s heard about the “jobs, jobs, jobs” this project could bring to an area known more for its tourism and outdoor living than high-tech industry. And Little is concerned about what will happen to her neighborhood and everything that makes it unique.

Little, who goes by “Betsy,” is not alone in her reaction, with a sharp divide between those opposed and those in favor in the Upper Peninsula and elsewhere. Opposition to the selection of the site near the historic Granot Loma resort, a landmark that may be the largest log cabin in the world, has generated more than 20,000 signatures on a petition to “stop the destruction of our forests.” Less than two weeks earlier, the project had been announced with great fanfare in Marquette. 

The person who started the petition, reacting to a Free Press story referencing the well-known Pure Michigan ad campaign in describing a vision of rockets blasting off over Lake Superior, trashed the proposal. 

“I can name hundreds of things that are more ‘Pure Michigan’ than that. Not polluting the clean, fresh waters of Lake Superior for a start. Also, not destroying acres of land that, contrary to popular belief, do have people living there,” according to the posting by Lauren Blosser.

That anti-launch site petition has now been answered by a group supporting the effort with its own petition to “say ‘YES!’ to the U.P. spaceport,” which had generated more than 1,600 signatures as of Saturday. 

“We are tired of having economic opportunities shut down as they have so many times in the U.P. without any solutions to create sustainable economic environments for families to stay in our beautiful home,” according to the second petition. 

Jake Putala, a Northern Michigan University student who’s helping lead the pro-spaceport campaign, said he doesn’t question the motives of the people who are opposed to the project even though many are from outside the area, but he said the region needs an economic boost, especially one that could bring high-paying jobs —from hundreds to a couple of thousand.

“I want to work here. I want to live here, and I want to raise a family here. In order to do that there has to be economic opportunity,” said Putala, who joked that he’s from Pelkie, which is in the suburbs of Baraga.

He estimated that a third of the 30 or so graduates in his high school class opted to leave the area because of limited career choices, something that’s “sad to see.” Putala, who’s studying public administration and criminal justice at the university in Marquette, said the UP is a special place to live, but it’s got challenges.

More: Poverty in rural Michigan: Relentless aging and few opportunities for those of working age

“The UP was hit incredibly hard during the recession back in 2008, and we’re still slowly recovering from that. A lot of areas in the UP, the primary industry is tourism,” which is fine, but the area needs to diversify its economy, he said.

The pitch for the project has in large part been about jobs and economic development, not just in the Marquette area but across the state. The man spearheading the effort, Gavin Brown, executive director of the Michigan Aerospace Manufacturers Association, said the project could generate 40,000 direct and spin-off jobs in an industry now highlighted by the names of companies like SpaceX, Blue Origin and Virgin Orbit. The site near Marquette would host the vertical launch site, while a horizontal launch site would be located at the Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport, a former Air Force base in the Lower Peninsula. The location of a command and control center is expected to be announced later this year.

The state of Michigan contributed $2 million for a feasibility study, and Brown said he expects to secure as much as $1.2 billion in private equity money for the project by the end of the year.

Brown said Michigan makes perfect sense to join the handful of states with active space launch sites because of its ties to the auto industry, which, he said, need more satellites in orbit to provide constant communications for the self-driving vehicles of the future.

State Rep. Sara Cambensy, D-Marquette, is one of a number of voices asking for patience, a theme highlighted in a story in the local newspaper, The Mining Journal, before people make up their minds. Cambensy told the Free Press it’s too early to reject this kind of a project. It would be years before completion and would require many reviews, and most key, approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.

More: From the UP to space: Site near Marquette picked as rocket launch site

More: Michigan wants to become next site for space launch facility

More: Fiat Chrysler, Waymo to put self-driving tech in Ram vans

“I think as Yoopers and people that live in the Upper Peninsula we’re very protective of our environment, but I have to say I was taken aback by all the protesting of the opportunity” to take advantage of this. Traditional industries like timber and mining are not what they were, she noted.

“We’re always looking for an opportunity to bring good-paying, high-quality jobs to the area, so this seemed perfect. I think a lot of people are making assumptions,” she said. “This is going to be nothing like Cape Canaveral. The disruption in terms of noise and nuisance is going to be minimal.”

Brown has said there could be a few dozen launches at the site near Marquette, with as many as 300 in Oscoda, each year. A fact sheet on the effort said noise from vertical launches would be audible, but “temporary, infrequent, and only loud enough to result in minor impacts like disruption of conversations.”

The fact sheet put the range for some aerospace engineering positions from about $98,000 to almost $104,000 and touted economic revenue spikes tied to launches in Brevard County, Florida, home of Cape Canaveral.

The location on the shores of the lake, however, is the real problem, according to Carl Lindquist, executive director of the Superior Watershed Partnership and Land Conservancy.

“We couldn’t imagine a worse location. This is a sensitive coastal area. It’s virtual wilderness so there’s a whole host of potential environmental impacts,” Lindquist said, mentioning the effect on water and air quality, threatened and endangered species as well as migratory patterns for animals, including moose. “It’s hard to imagine such an operation in such a sensitive area. … If it were to be a shopping mall development there it would be incredible, irreversible environmental damage.”

But the biggest impact would be on the lake itself, the world’s largest freshwater lake by surface area and the headwaters of the Great Lakes, with tens of millions of people living downstream, Lindquist said. He noted the consequences if something were to fall into the lake with its tremendous depth of more than 1,300 feet.

Lindquist, who noted the danger of forest fires as well, said his organization does support sustainable economic development but that would not happen in the specific location along the lake. Sawyer International Airport, the former K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base, which is south of Marquette, had been considered for the site but rejected because flights would be over more populated areas.

“This sudden switch accounts for a lot of the local outrage,” Lindquist said, noting that although there would be some environmental concerns with launches at the airport, many locals believe it’s a much better option.

Mirko Gamba, an associate professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Michigan, said concerns about the project should not be dismissed.

“The issue of environmental impact is very, very important and noise is part of that. I think the people are right in raising these questions, and we need to address it in a formal process,” he said, noting that the FAA would make that happen.

When weighing the impact, though, Gamba said he’d focus on three areas. The local environmental impact, including from propellants, which could include a mixture of liquid oxygen and a fuel like kerosene or liquid hydrogen (that would be cleaner than kerosene for instance but isn’t as commonly used in these types of operations) would be one area. The customers who use the site and the payloads they’d bring would be another.

But Gamba said the launch itself and the area the rockets would travel over are the main areas of impacts he envisions from this type of site. The risk to people and property in the event of a launch failure would need to be weighed. You need to determine where things would fall, he said.

And of course the people on the other side of the lake, those who live in Canada, would want to weigh in.

Whether the site is appropriate, it’s not clear, and Gamba said it’s not for him to say. If the state really wants this, it should consider it, he said.

Gamba noted, however, that even if a launch site never materializes, Michigan already has a vibrant aerospace industry through its many suppliers, in large part because of connections to the automotive industry, and one that can continue to grow.

Contact Eric D. Lawrence: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @_ericdlawrence.

Future of India-China ties depends on reaching ‘some kind of equilibrium’: Jaishankar

New Delhi, August 8

The world has a lot riding on India and China given their size and the impact, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Saturday, suggesting that the future of ties between the two countries would depend on reaching “some kind of equilibrium or understanding”.

In an online interaction at a CII summit, Jaishankar said there are “problems” between the two countries which are “well laid out”.

He was replying to a question on whether India and China will be able to become friends in the next 10-20 years just like the way France and Germany overcame their past to forge a new relationship.

Jaishankar did not give a direct reply, but briefly delved into broader historical aspects of the relationship.

“We are neighbours of China. China is already the second largest economy in the world. We will be one day third. You can argue when. We are demographically two very unique countries. We are the only two countries in the billion plus (population) category,” he said.

“The period of our difficulties were similar which really started at least vis-a-vis the Europeans around the same timeframe,” he said.

The external affairs minister said the period of re-emergence of the two countries in a very strong way in international politics is also not that far apart.

“We are seeing a sort of parallel but differential rise of the two countries. But all of this is also happening when we are neighbours. To my mind what it does is, it puts a huge premium on reaching some kind of equilibrium or understanding between the two,” he said.

“Because not just in my interest, equally in their interests, and how to do that, I think is, one of the big challenges that we face. In their own way, somebody at their end would be saying something,” he added.

India and China are currently locked in a bitter border row in eastern Ladakh.

“And I would argue that the world actually has a lot riding on us given our size and given our impact that would be the case. It is not an easy question to answer. There are problems; problems are well laid out. But certainly I feel, you know, (it) is very central to our foreign policy calculations,” Jaishankar said.

Referring to evolving geo-politics, the external affairs minister also mentioned how the era of western dominance is diluting in the wake of rebalancing of global power with the rise of countries like India and China.

About the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a free trade agreement, Jaishankar said trade pacts should serve the national economic growth and suggested that it would be a key condition on India’s decision whether to go for such agreements.

Talking about India’s foreign policy, the external affairs minister said the country will continue to strive for a just and equitable world as not advocating for international rules and norms could lead to the “law of the jungle”.

He also touched upon a range of key geo-political issues like changing character of global alliances, how technology and connectivity are becoming key parameters of global power and India’s strategic autonomy in foreign policy and importance it commands for its values and ethical approach.

Highlighting centrality of India’s foreign policy, Jaishankar said the country is recognised for moral leadership globally and that it strongly stands for its quest for a more just and equitable world with strong commitment for international laws and norms.

If we do not advocate for a world which is based on law and norms, “then frankly, it will be the law of the jungle,” the external affairs minister said adding virtues of Lord Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi are still recognised globally.

“We have an ability to handle, manage and internalise diversity in a very very unique way,” said Jaishankar.

Referring to current geo-politics, changing dimension of alliances and diplomacy, he pitched for a less dogmatic and much more open-minded and pragmatic approach in dealing with various countries and situations.

Jaishankar said though military and economic powers used to symbolise global clout in the past, technology and connectivity are becoming new parameters of power and influence.

After unannounced return, Georgian coach startles SAI with late night Sonepat visit

Vinayak Padmadeo

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 8

Georgian coach Temo Kasarashvili, who is employed by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) to coach the Greco-Roman team, has become a bit of a headache for the sports authorities.

Kasarashvili returned to India unannounced, despite being told to stay in Georgia. His stay in India has only problems for the authorities and the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI).

SAI has been working overtime to keep him safe. Besides being his employer, SAI is concerned as Kasarashvili is a foreign national and the authorities are worried about keeping him and his Indian contacts safe in the times of Covid.

Kasarashvili was first assigned to stay at the Jagjeet Wrestling Academy in Jalandhar, which is a Khelo India accredited centre. But when SAI officials were told that there are no wrestlers there, he was cleared to stay in Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. Since there are no national camps planned in the near future, his services will be used in SAI’s e-pathshala programmes.

Kasarashvili came to India along with Bajrang Punia’s personal coach Shako Bentinidis on July 30 without getting the approval of either SAI or WFI. After serving the quarantine period, Kasarashvili is staying with Bentinidis in Bajrang Punia’s Sonepat flat.

Late night visit

The unscheduled return of Kasarashvili has been causing a lot of headaches for the authorities.

The Georgian coach entered the SAI Sonepat complex on Thursday night to clean out his room without getting approval or consent from the SAI authorities, including from the regional director of the centre.

“He should have at least spoken to us or those in the office of regional director. I am sure no one would have objected. But he has been doing things on his own without informing us,” WFI assistant secretary Vinod Tomar said.

“He came here unannounced too. He should have told either the federation or SAI. We are in the middle of a pandemic and he is old… If he gets ill, who do you think will be blamed? WFI or SAI, right? And despite all this, we are trying to help him,” Tomar added.

Sources: Big Ten commissioner prefers spring college football season

Big Ten presidents are expected to meet Saturday afternoon to discuss the future of the conference’s fall sports seasons, multiple sources with direct knowledge of the situation told the Free Press.

And it’s possible a spring football season could be on the table.

Both sources were briefed about the call but were not authorized to speak publicly about it. The call was previously scheduled, and was not an emergency call, the sources said. However, the topic of conversation has shifted to the college football season. 

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Going into the call, the sources were told Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren preferred a spring football season, although no decision had been made.

An email to the Big Ten was not immediately returned. 

The presidents meeting comes hours after the Mid-American Conference — which includes Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan and Western Michigan — became the first from the FBS to cancel its fall college football season in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The MAC will instead pursue a spring football season, commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said Saturday in a conference call.

Michigan and Michigan State opened fall camp on Friday. On Saturday, after the MAC’s announcement, the Big Ten announced all schools must remain in the helmets and shorts phase of practice. It’s unclear when full-padded practice will begin.

Contact David Jesse: 313-222-8851 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @reporterdavidj