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SUNDAY, MAY 31, 2015

Modi land order pits investors against farmers n Reuters, New Delhi The Indian government has issued an executive order for the third time to make it easier to buy farmland for large projects after failing to win parliamentary for a controversial land bill championed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The ordinance was approved at a cabinet meeting yesterday chaired by Modi. It will replace an existing ordinance that implemented the bill pending parliamentary approval, and needs the president’s signature to take effect. “The land ordinance has been cleared again by the cabinet to maintain continuity and we will ensure that farmers don’t face hardship on compensation,” cabinet minister Ravishankar Prasad told reporters after the meeting. Making it easier for investors to buy land has been a key focus of the Modi govern-

ment’s reform efforts. He first passed a decree last December to ease land acquisition rules that require the consent of 80 percent landowners for a deal to happen. Lawmakers in the upper house of the parliament, led by the opposition Congress party, have repeatedly blocked the bill which they say is anti-farmer. Modi’s nationalist government lacks a majority in the second chamber. To build consensus over the bill, the government has introduced several amendments and formed a parliamentary committee to examine compensation clauses and resettlement of farmers. Billions of dollars of investment in industrial projects across India are tied up due to conflicts between farmers and companies trying to buy land across India. But farmers have criticised Modi’s government for eyeing their land at time when unseasonal rains have damaged the crops. l

Yemen car bomb kills 12 n AFP, Aden

A bomb-laden vehicle parked near an arms depot exploded killing 12 Iran-backed rebels and wounding eight others in southern Yemen’s Abyan province yesterday, a local official told AFP. The official said the attack in the coastal city of Shoqra was carried out by local anti-rebel fighters, who are backed by a Saudi-led coalition pounding Shiite Huthi militia and their allies since March 26. Anti-rebel forces are made up of pro-government fighters, Sunni tribes and southern separatists, collectively known as Popular Resistance Committees. In the southern port city of Aden, coalition warplanes launched deadly airstrikes against rebel positions, a military official said, without giving a toll.

Aden has been the scene of deadly clashes between the rebels, who include troops loyal to ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh, and Popular Resistance fighters. A health official in the city told AFP that “nine people, among them four civilians, were killed and 132 people wounded during the past 48 hours.” The casualties were caused by “random Huthi shelling of residential areas” using mortar rounds and Katyusha rockets, as well as ongoing clashes, the spokesman of the Popular Resistance leadership in Aden, Ali al-Ahmedi, told AFP. According to the World Health Organization, the Yemen conflict has since March killed almost 2,000 people and wounded 8,000, with hundreds of women and children among the casualties. l

US to bring Japan under its cyber defense umbrella n Reuters, Tokyo The United States will extend its cyber defense umbrella over Japan, helping its Asian ally cope with the growing threat of online attacks against military bases and infrastructure such as power grids, the two nations said in a joint statement yesterday. “We note a growing level of sophistication among malicious cyber actors, including non-state and state-sponsored actors,” they said in a statement released by the US-Japan Cyber Defense Policy Working Group, which was established in 2013. Cybersecurity is a key area where Japan and the United States are deepening their military partnership under a set of new security guidelines released in April, that will also integrate their ballistic missile defense systems and give Tokyo a bigger security role in Asia as China’s military power grows. Both the United States and Japan are wary of cyber threats, including potential attacks

from China or North Korea. While the United States is investing heavily in building a force to counter and retaliate against online attacks, Japan, which hosts the biggest US military contingent in Asia, has been slower to buttress its cyber defenses. The Japanese military’s cyber defense unit has around 90 members, compared to more than 6,000 people at the Pentagon, a Japanese Defense Ministry official said at a briefing on Thursday. In the statement yesterday, Japan’s defense ministry pledged to “contribute to join “efforts for addressing various cyber threats, including those against Japanese critical infrastructure and services utilised by the Japan Self-Defense Forces and US Forces.” China’s Defense Ministry expressed concern about the new strategy saying it would worsen tension over Internet security. China is frequently accused by the US of being engaged in widespread hacking attacks, charges Beijing denies. l

A file photo of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaking at a conference in New Delhi, India on February 15 REUTERS

31 May, 2015  
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