India launches largest rocket and unmanned capsule

India launches largest rocket and unmanned capsule

India has successfully launched its largest rocket and an unmanned capsule which could send astronauts into space.

The 630-tonne Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (MK III) blasted off from Sriharikota in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh on Thursday morning.

The new rocket will be able to carry heavier satellites into space.

India has successfully launched lighter satellites in recent years, but has faced problems sending up heavier payloads.

The new rocket is capable of carrying communication satellites weighing 4,000kg, reports say, meaning India will not have to rely on foreign launchers to do so.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted after the launch: “Successful launch of GSLV MK-III is yet another triumph of brilliance & hard work of our scientists. Congrats to them for the efforts.”

K Radhakrishnan, chairman of the Indian Space and Research Organization (Isro), said the launch marked a “very significant day in India’s space history”.

The rocket’s main cargo was an Indian-made capsule capable of carrying two to three astronauts into space.

Read more » BBC
Learn more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-30527602

Swiss National Bank will cut interest rate to minus 0.25%

Switzerland’s National Bank (SNB) will bring in a negative interest rate cutting the value of large sums of money left on deposit in the country.

The Bank is imposing a rate of minus 0.25% on “sight deposits” – a form of instant access account – of more than 10m Swiss francs ($9.77m).

It is trying to lower the value of the Swiss franc, which has risen recently.

Russia’s market meltdown and a dramatic plunge in the oil price have led investors to seek “safe havens”.

The announcement sent the franc lower, and in early trading the euro was buying 1.2095 Swiss francs, fewer than the 1.203 it was worth before the news, just within the target.

Switzerland typically sees money flow in during economic uncertainty.

The new rate will be introduced on 22 January and will only affect banks and large companies who use the “sight account” to transfer funds quickly and without restrictions.

A negative rate means depositors pay to lend the bank their money.

Read more » BBC
Learn more » http://www.bbc.com/news/business-30528404

Pakistani spy agency’s relations with militants blamed for school massacre

Some see ISI’s ambiguous approach towards different groups in effort to counter Indian influence as fuelling attacks

By , south Asia correspondent, The Guardian

Within days of a militant attack earlier this year on the Indian consulate in the western Afghan city of Herat, intelligence officials in Kabul and Delhi were told by their US counterparts that communication intercepts indicated that the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba group (LeT) was responsible.

A lucky shot from a guard had hit the leader of the assault team, giving defenders time to prepare and the four attackers had all been killed. US officials said they had aimed to take hostages and cause a drawn-out crisis intended to destabilise India’s new prime minister, Narendra Modi, just days after his landslide election win.

The new details of the operation will be seen as further evidence of the close relationship between LeT and Pakistan’s security establishment.

LeT was responsible for a 2008 attack on the Indian commercial capital of Mumbai in which around 170 people were killed by militants who had arrived by boat from the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi. A key figure in the attack told US and court officials that middle-ranking officials from the Pakistani military’s Directorate of InterServices Intelligence (ISI) had at very least facilitated the assault.

Western intelligence officials also believe the ISI has close relations with the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network, an insurgent faction which has repeatedly struck international targets in Afghanistan.

“There have been intelligence reports that link the ISI particularly to the Haqqani network,” Joseph Dunford, the commander of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan, said in April.

The ISI also maintains links with a range of sectarian groups within Pakistan and outfits primarily focussed on fighting Indian security forces in Kashmir.

Some blame these continuing relationships for the carnage at the army-run school in Peshawar on Tuesday.

The link is indirect. Few say that there is any connection between the Pakistan Taliban (TTP), the rough coalition of groups that has claimed responsibility for the attack, and the country’s security establishment.

“The military formally and institutionally considers the TTP as an enemy of the state as it has killed many soldiers over the years,” said Michael Kugelman of the Woodrow Wilson centre in Washington.

Pakistan’s use of certain militant groups as strategic assets, however, makes concerted action against others impossible, according to Ajai Sahni, an Indian security analyst.

“If you allow space for armed Islamist groups you can’t really distinguish one from another,” Sahni said.

The policy of using militants as auxiliaries goes back to the earliest days of the new Pakistani nation and its partition from India following independence from Britain. Such forces were seen by the new country’s military commanders as an effective way of countering their eastern neighbour’s huge demographic, economic and military advantage. They have played a key role in Pakistan’s four wars with India. Auxiliaries were also deployed in Kashmir in the 1990s. When hundreds of Pakistani militants infiltrated across the de facto frontier in the disputed Himalayan territory in 1999, they sparked the most recent overt conflict.

Read more » The Guardian
Learn more » http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/17/pakistan-spy-agency-isi-relations-militants-blamed-school-massacre

Pakistan Army, ISAF to target Mullah Fazlullah in drone attack: Report

By PTI

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan army and US-led forces in Afghanistan have decided to target Tehreek-e-Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah using drones rather than a ground operation in the areas where he is believed to be taking sanctuary.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was informed about the decision to take out Fazlullah nicknamed the “Radio Mullah”, who is said to be in contact with the Peshawar school attackers during the assault which left 148 people dead, mostly school children, The Express Tribune reported today.

Citing sources, the paper said that although Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif and ISI chief Rizwan Akhter have provided Afghan authorities the audio proof of attackers talking to Fazlullah during the assault, Army is currently refraining from chasing targets across the border.

“The audio recording, handed to Afghan authorities, was in Pashto,” he paper said, citing sources.

Read more at: The Economic Times

 

Infuriated civil society demands arrest of Lal Masjid cleric

ISLAMABAD: A large number of civil society protesters gathered outside the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in protest against remarks of the mosque cleric who declined to condemn the barbaric Peshawar attack that claimed lives of over 130 children,ARY News reported.

The protesters said they would got the FIR registered against Red Mosque cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz for his hate remarks.

The peaceful protesters said the capital administration must immediately arrest the cleric for his remarks supporting Taliban who massacred innocent children.

Read more » ARY News
Learn more » http://arynews.tv/en/infuriated-civil-society-demands-arrest-lal-masjid-cleric/