Video of youth tied to army jeep evokes anger


Srinagar, April 14 (IANS) A video of a youth tied to the front of a moving army jeep as a shield against stone pelters has evoked anger and shock in Kashmir. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the incident, if true, will be looked into, while the army said it is verifying the contents of the video.

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Asked about the video that surfaced on social media on Friday, Rajnath Singh said in Kolkata: “Whatever and wherever any such thing happens, it will be looked into. I have not received any such information. When I get the information, then I will answer this question.”

Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh questioned the veracity of the video, and said, “What is the video about? Who has posted the video?”

“Until the video’s veracity is established, it is difficult to react,” the former Army chief said on the sidelines of a seminar in Mumbai.

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, tweeting his shock over the video, wrote: “This young man was TIED to the front of an army jeep to make sure no stones were thrown at the jeep? This is just so shocking!”

Omar called for an inquiry. “A warning can be heard (in the video) saying stone pelters will meet this fate. This requires an urgent inquiry and follow up NOW.”

Defence Ministry spokesperson, Colonel Rajesh Kalia, in a statement said: “The contents of the video are being verified and investigated.”

With internet services restored in Kashmir Valley on Thursday night after Sunday’s deadly violence that led to the death of eight civilians in firing by security forces, many such videos emerged on social media sites on Friday.

Commenting on the video, Wasim Dar, a Kashmiri youth, posted on Twitter: “A boy killed from point blank range and another boy tied to the army jeep. What to do after seeing these videos.”

Another Twitter handle said the army’s actions were “dehumanising a whole population to cultivate total submission”.

“The strategy, that has recoiled back, spectacularly,” ProjectKashmir tweeted.

However, some twitter users defended the army’s action and said it helped to avoid the stone pelting.

“Find a pelter, tie him up, let his pelter brothers scratch their heads. What’s not to love? Should’ve thought of this since beginning,” said a tweet from “FrustratedIndian.

Rajnath Singh, asked about purported videos of human rights violation by forces in Kashmir, said: “I can say the security forces are providing security putting their own life at stake in the crisis situation in Kashmir.”

He said an FIR has been lodged and action was on regarding the treatment meted out to the Central Reserve Police Force troopers who were carrying the Electronic Voting Machines during the election.

Video clips, which went viral, showed a group of youths heckling and even pushing the troopers as they wound their way.

“The way the CRPF troopers carrying the EVMs were treated, I had ordered that FIR be lodged. The FIR has been lodged now. Interrogation is on,” said Rajnath Singh.

–IANS

China to build first underwater platform in South China Sea


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BEIJING: China will build its first long-term underwater observation platform in resource-rich South China Sea, where it has territorial disputes with many south-east Asian countries including Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

The platform aims to observe underwater conditions in real time.

“Construction work on the long-term observation platform covering key areas in the South China and East China seas will be done with the help of Shanghai’s Tongji University and the Institute of Acoustics,” Wang Pinxian, an academic at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) said.

Building the observation network showcases that China is actively joining in the international competition, Wang told scientific forum in Shanghai last Saturday, state-run Global Times reported.

Institute of Acoustics refused to reveal the exact location and further details of the researches on the platform due to its sensitive nature, it said.

China has maritime disputes in the South China Sea and East China Sea.

It claims almost all the waters, which carry a third of the world’s maritime traffic and has huge amounts of oil and natural gas BSE -0.15 %.

The waters are also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. China also contests Japan’s hold over the islands in the East China Sea.

Quoting a report from ‘sciencenet’, Global Times report said the observation platform will probe the undersea physical, chemical, and geological dynamics, and will also be used for other purposes.

At an offshore drilling project led by Chinese scientists, 33 scientists from 13 countries including the US, France, Italy and Japan left Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong on February 7 for the South China Sea.

The scientists have completed the first drilling task of the expedition to the South China Sea.

The first hole, identified as U1499A, has reached 3,770 meters below sea level, for collection of sediment samples, state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

According to Sun Zhen of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, chief scientist of the research expedition team, a preliminary lithologic study was conducted on sediment believed to have been formed eight million years ago.

The study will contribute to understanding how marginal basins grow.

A total of 66 scientists from 13 countries will participate in the expeditions, as part of the International Ocean Discovery Programme.

Source

Why is the US spending so much on the F-35 fighter?


As the Pentagon prepares to unveil its proposed budget for 2015, the F-35 fighter jet program's survival is not in doubt but it remains unclear how many planes will be built in the end and how many foreign partners will be willing to buy.

As the Pentagon prepares to unveil its proposed budget for 2015, the F-35 fighter jet program’s survival is not in doubt but it remains unclear how many planes will be built in the end and how many foreign partners will be willing to buy.

Washington:  Despite incessant technical problems and delays, the US military has no plans to cancel the new F-35 fighter jet, the costliest weapons program in Pentagon history.

The Joint Strike Fighter has been touted as a technological wonder that will dominate the skies but it has suffered one setback after another, putting the project seven years behind schedule and $167 billion over budget.

As the Pentagon prepares to unveil its proposed budget for 2015, the program’s survival is not in doubt but it remains unclear how many planes will be built in the end and how many foreign partners will be willing to buy it.

– Why has the F-35 program reached the point of no return? –

After more than a decade since it was launched, officials insist there is no going back on the program, as the plane is supposed to form the backbone of the future fighter jet fleet.

The US Air Force and the Marine Corps have not invested in an alternative, having put all their eggs in the F-35 basket. The Navy, in theory, could bail out if it wanted and opt to buy more F-18 jets, but it is under intense pressure to keep in line.

The project has become “too big to fail,” said Gordon Adams, a professor at American University and former White House official.

The F-35 enjoys broad backing in Congress, as contractor Lockheed Martin has spread the work for the plane across 45 US states.

Foreign allies also have committed to the program, and Washington has promised to deliver a game-changing plane.

– How much does it cost? –

As a one-size-fits-all plane, and with US allies invited to take part, the program originally was touted as a money-saving idea.

But the program’s costs have snowballed, for an estimated 68 percent increase over its initial price tag. The Pentagon now plans to spend $391.2 billion on 2,443 aircraft, with each plane costing a staggering $160 million.

When taking into account the cost of flying and maintaining the F-35 over the course of its life, the program could surpass a trillion dollars, according to the Government Accountability Office.

– Why is the F-35 touted as a “revolutionary” warplane? –

The aircraft is billed as the ultimate stealth attack plane, with a design enabling it to evade radar detection.

When the F-35 confronts an adversary in the air, the enemy plane “will die before it even knows it’s even in a fight,” Air Force chief General Mark Welsh told CBS television’s “60 Minutes” show.

Equipped to fly at supersonic speeds and outfitted with elaborate software, the F-35 resembles a flying computer. Through the visor of a hi-tech helmet linked up with cameras on the plane, the pilot can see through the floor of the cockpit to the ground below — providing the pilot an unprecedented 360-degree picture.

– Why is the program behind schedule and what is the effect of the delays? –

The aircraft will not enter into service before 2016, ten years after its first flight.

The main cause of the delay was a decision to start building the plane before testing was finished. As a result, bugs and other technical glitches keep forcing repairs and redesign work, slowing down production.

The 24 million lines of code for the plane’s software have posed a persistent headache, and the jet has yet to attain the level of performance and reliability expected.

On Friday, the program office acknowledged to AFP that the F-35B, the short-takeoff variant for the Marine Corps, suffered cracks in its bulkheads during stress tests. As a result, the durability tests have been suspended and the plane may have to be modified.

Like other weapons programs in the past, the technical problems are driving up the cost of each plane, and that is forcing Washington to scale back the number of aircraft it will buy.

The Pentagon already has announced plans to purchase only 34 of the jets in fiscal year 2015, instead of the 42 originally planned.

– What countries plan to buy the aircraft? –

Apart from the United States, eight countries are taking part in the program: Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and Turkey.

Israel has expressed an interest in the plane, as has Japan, South Korea and Singapore.

Some governments have ordered their first aircraft but with the cost of each plane rising, purchase plans remain tentative.