Soyuz space capsule carrying American, Russian blasts off to ISS

Baikonur [Kazakhstan], Apr 20 (ANI): Russia’s Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft has been launched to International Space Station (ISS) from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The spacecraft carries two crew members including NASA (U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration) astronaut Jack Fischer and Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin, reports the Sputnik.

The launch was carried out from the Russian-leased launch facility of Baikonur, carrying 70 kilograms of food products.

The Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft has an upgraded navigation system, new communications system and a modernized docking system. The spacecraft also has a larger solar cell area, which enables it to generate more energy.

The launch of the Soyuz capsule was initially scheduled for March 27 but was postponed to conduct more safety checks.

‘Not Our President’: Protests Spread After Donald Trump’s Election

The demonstrations, fueled by social media, continued into the early hours of Thursday. The crowds swelled as the night went on but remained mostly peaceful.

Protests were reported in cities as diverse as Dallas and Oakland and included marches in Boston; Chicago; Portland, Ore.; Seattle and Washington and at college campuses in California, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.

In Oakland alone, the Police Department said, the crowd grew from about 3,000 people at 7 p.m. to 6,000 an hour later. The situation grew tense late Wednesday, with SFGate.com reporting that a group of protesters had started small fires in the street and broken windows. Police officers in riot gear were called in, and at least one officer was injured, according to other local news reports.

It was the second night of protests there, following unruly demonstrations that led to property damage and left at least one person injured shortly after Mr. Trump’s election was announced.

The protests on Wednesday came just hours after Hillary Clinton, in her concession speech, asked supporters to give Mr. Trump a “chance to lead.”

One of the biggest demonstrations was in Los Angeles, where protesters burned a Trump effigy at City Hall and shut down a section of Highway 101. Law enforcement officials were called out to disperse the hundreds of people who swarmed across the multilane freeway.

In New York, crowds converged at Trump Tower, on Fifth Avenue at 56th Street in Midtown Manhattan, where the president-elect lives.

They chanted “Not our president” and “New York hates Trump” and carried signs that said, among other things, “Dump Trump.” Restaurant workers in their uniforms briefly left their posts to cheer on the demonstrators.

The demonstrations forced streets to be closed, snarled traffic and drew a large police presence. They started in separate waves from Union Square and Columbus Circle and snaked their way through Midtown.

Loaded dump trucks lined Fifth Avenue for two blocks outside Trump Tower as a form of protection.

Emanuel Perez, 25, of the Bronx, who works at a restaurant in Manhattan and grew up in Guerrero, Mexico, was among the many Latinos in the crowd.

“I came here because people came out to protest the racism that he’s promoting,” he said in Spanish, referring to Mr. Trump. “I’m not scared for myself personally. What I’m worried about is how many children are going to be separated from their families. It will not be just one. It will be thousands of families.”

Protesters with umbrellas beat a piñata of Mr. Trump, which quickly lost a leg, outside the building.

The Police Department said on Wednesday night that 15 protesters had been arrested.

Bianca Rivera, 25, of East Harlem, described Mr. Trump’s election as something that was “not supposed to happen.”

“We’re living in a country that’s supposed to be united, a melting pot,” she said. “It’s exposing all these underground racists and sexists.”

After Mr. Trump’s victory speech, more than 2,000 students at the University of California, Los Angeles, marched through the streets of the campus’s Westwood neighborhood.

There were similar protests at the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles; University of California campuses in Berkeley, San Diego and Santa Barbara; Temple University, in Philadelphia; and the University of Massachusetts.

High school students also walked out of classes in protest in several cities.

As U.C.L.A. students made their way to classes on Wednesday, they talked about how to make sense of an outcome that had seemed impossible a day earlier.

“I’m more than a little nervous about the future,” said Blanca Torres, a sophomore anthropology major. “We all want to have conversations with each other, to figure out how to move forward. There’s a whole new reality out there for us now.”

Chuy Fernandez, a fifth-year economics student, said he was eager to air his unease with his peers.

“I’m feeling sad with this huge sense of uncertainty,” Mr. Fernandez said. The son of a Mexican immigrant, he said it was difficult not to take the outcome personally.

“We’re all just kind of waiting for a ticking time bomb, like looking around and thinking who will be deported,” he said. “That’s the exact opposite of what most of us thought would happen.”

On Facebook, a page titled “Not My President” called for protesters to gather on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, in the nation’s capital.

“We refuse to recognize Donald Trump as the president of the United States, and refuse to take orders from a government that puts bigots into power,” the organizers wrote.

“We have to make it clear to the public that we did not choose this man for office and that we won’t stand for his ideologies.”untitled-2

New York Times

Texas college student takes topless selfie, hits police car, gets arrested

A 19-year-old Texas A&M University student taking a topless selfie while driving slammed into the rear of a stopped police car and was arrested, police said on Thursday.

The student, Miranda Rader, also had an open bottle of wine in a cup holder next to her, the Bryan Police Department said.

The accident on Wednesday, near the university about 100 miles northwest of Houston, caused the airbag to deploy. Police said that when the officer whose car had been hit approached Rader, she was trying to put on her blouse.

“I asked her why she was not dressed while driving and she stated she was taking a Snapchat photo to send to her boyfriend while she was at a red light,” the arresting officer wrote in an affidavit.

Rader did not respond to an email seeking comment.

She was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated and released on a bond of $2,000, police said.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz)

New Delhi (CNN)When India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi concludes his three-day visit to Washington on Wednesday, he will likely reflect on how the relationship between the world’s two biggest democracies is becoming ever closer, a step towards fulfilling U.S. President Barack Obama’s prophesy that India and the United States would form “one of the defining partnerships” of the 21st century.

At the very least, Modi deserves credit for generating an impressive amount of air miles. This week marks his fourth U.S. visit since assuming office in 2014. It is also the seventh time he has met Obama.
But there is an important first this week too: Wednesday will mark the first time Modi has been invited to address a Joint Meeting of Congress in the House Chamber — an honor bestowed on just a few world leaders every year.
Wednesday’s address to Congress will complete an unlikely turnaround for Modi, going from outcast to prize in just over two years.
The clouds hanging over Modi’s reputation date back to 2002 when he was Chief Minister of the western state of Gujarat. More than a thousand Muslims were killed by rampaging Hindus in the final act of an ugly spate of riots. Human rights activists have long alleged that Modi was complicit; India’s courts have been unable to prove any truth to those claims.
Reacting to the controversy over Modi’s alleged role, U.S. officials denied him a visa in 2005 on the grounds of a little-used clause of the Immigration and Nationality Act barring foreign officials from entry if they were deemed responsible of what the Act calls “violations of religious freedom.”
When Modi became Prime Minister the clause was rendered irrelevant. The leader of the world’s biggest democracy was simply too important.
ALSO READ: Does India like Donald Trump?

On his first visit to New York Modi stunned the city by drawing a crowd of twenty thousand supporters to his speech at Madison Square Gardens. Modi had arrived. He appeared at another rally in the company of ‘Wolverine’ actor Hugh Jackman. In subsequent visits he was seen with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and SpaceX founder Elon Musk.

Come Wednesday, the rehabilitation will be whole. Modi is now known around the world mostly for his electrifying oratory, for being decisive on foreign policy, and for talking up domestic successes – even while some of his main projects are stymied by political gridlock.

Why Washington?

This is largely a win-win visit for both leaders.
For Obama, India could be seen as a foreign policy success, far away from the crises of Syria and Libya, the unease with Russia, or the competition with China. New Delhi has emerged as a partner in the Indian Ocean and a hedge against China’s ambitions. U.S.-India ties in defense, intelligence sharing, trade, and investment have gotten stronger. A steady stream of U.S. CEOs make their way to India every month, looking to cash in on a country that is increasingly seen as a rare growth spot in a bleak global economy.
Inviting Modi to Washington is Obama’s way of sealing one part of his foreign policy legacy.
As India’s Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar put it to reporters at a briefing in New Delhi last week, there are very few world leaders Obama wants to see in his remaining months in office. Modi is clearly one of them.
Modi, meanwhile, can’t get enough of the United States. Modi’s global travels get unprecedented coverage at home, but none more so than his visits to America. The Indian media has often trumpeted the so-called chemistry between the two leaders, branding it a “bromance.” In reality, Modi has been wise to be effusive in public while keeping private any lingering resentment and embarrassment from his erstwhile travel ban.
For Modi, the benefits of a strong American friendship are clear: being aligned closer to Washington means he can attract more business and trade, which has always been his top priority. As the Brookings Institution’s Tanvi Madan points out, U.S.-India trade has jumped from $60 billion in 2009 to $107 billion in 2015; sales of U.S. defense equipment to India now reach $14 billion, up some 50-fold from a decade ago. The U.S. is also expected to help India join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), a club of countries trading materials for nuclear energy.
Crucially for India, which has in the past flirted more with the Soviet Union than the United States, New Delhi’s friendship with Washington hasn’t cost it its own independent views. While cozying up to the White House, India has continued to forge ahead with investments in Iran, for example, such as its recent development of the Iranian port, Chabahar.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

What to expect

As with many pow-wows between big leaders, don’t expect too much of substance to emerge. This week is more about symbolism and ironing out plans long in the works, such as military cooperation and minor shifts in energy policy.
It is significant that Modi will be arriving in the U.S. from Switzerland, and traveling onwards to Mexico — both are countries that are members of the NSG, and crucial to rallying support for India’s bid to join the group.
America’s support will be vital too. In return, Obama may push Modi to advance his climate change agenda following the Paris Agreement signed in 2015.

Looming controversies?

While Modi is clearly no longer an outcast in Washington, he may yet have to answer some uncomfortable questions. He is expected to meet with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, some of whom have been vocal about Modi’s human rights record, including what many see as a rising climate of hostility towards Muslims in India.
More publicly, a congressional commission will hold a hearing on Tuesday examining human rights in India. The session is expected to take place right as Modi and Obama meet.
Modi will not have a chance to project beyond Obama just yet. This will likely be Modi’s final meeting with President Obama as the world wonders who Modi’s next counterpart will be.

U.S. nervously watches Canada’s massive refugee plan

Fear of the Canadian border as a gateway for terror — a recurring theme in U.S. politics since the attacks of 9/11 — appears to be stirring anew as the sheer heft of the Canadian plan takes shape,

By: Mitch Potter Foreign Affairs Writer,

Toronto Star

It should come as something less than a shock that the United States is watching closely — and in some quarters, nervously — as Canada’s new government moves with bold, audacious speed on Syrian refugees.

Fear of the Canadian border as a gateway for terror — a recurring theme in U.S. politics since the attacks of 9/11, despite all evidence to the contrary — appears to be stirring anew as the sheer heft of the Canadian plan takes shape, with expectations of as many as 1,000 refugees a day arriving in Canada starting Dec. 1.

A telltale clue on the jittery thinking among U.S. officials came even before Friday’s attacks in Paris, when a senior officer with the U.S. embassy in Ottawa was overheard at a public gathering on Remembrance Day bluntly discussing Washington’s anxieties that some among the 25,000 refugees may come intending to travel south and wreak American havoc, ISIS-style.

“The message was very clear and not couched in diplomatic language — I heard, ‘My government is highly concerned’ about the potential threat at the border,” a witness to the U.S. official’s remarks told the Star on condition of anonymity. The official in question, Peter Malecha, a first secretary at the embassy, did not respond to the Star’s request for comment.

It is unclear whether it’s the speed or size of Ottawa’s refugee mobilization — or perhaps both — that rankles most. Either way, the fact that Canada is about to punch far above America’s weight on Syrian refugees is not going unnoticed. The Canadian pledge to absorb 25,000 people by year’s end vastly overshadows anything contemplated in Washington, where officials are looking at opening the door to an additional 10,000 refugees by the end of 2016. In per capita terms, Canada’s target is 25 times more generous than what Washington envisions. And it will happen 12 times faster.

Close watchers of the Canada-U.S. file in Washington say they are unsurprised by the added U.S. scrutiny, given how border security dominates American political conversation. Unlike in Canada, the Syrian refugee debate south of the border has been subsumed into the already overheated political battle over immigration, with Republican frontrunner Donald Trump warning any large influx of refugees represents a “Trojan Horse” security threat.

“These kinds of American anxieties speak to the borders-first mindset that prevails. And at the same time, Ottawa is being watched down here because it is not just a new government but a young government,” said Washington consultant Paul Frazer, a former Canadian diplomat specializing in cross-border issues.

“At the same time we need to keep in mind that we are a long way from 9/11 and the enhancements in border security have grown year after year, with an array of protections, coming and going. Is it presumptuous to sound the alarm about 25,000 people when Germany is dealing with 700,000 refugees as we speak? It probably is.

“But it also speaks to the stakes of this plan,” said Frazer. “If you’re the Canadian minister in charge of the file, you’re going to make sure everything is done with incredible thoroughness. But when all is said and done you will still go to bed at night crossing your fingers.”

Republican candidate for president wants to put up a wall at Canada-U.S. border

By Haydn Watters, CBC News

Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin a Republican contender for the president’s job, has been ridiculed online since raising the idea of building a mammoth security wall along the Canada-U.S. border.

Walker entertained the idea during an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, where he called the wall a “legitimate issue.”

It’s rare to see the Canadian border being discussed during a presidential campaign, as candidates more often talk about the southern border. Walker’s fellow presidential candidate, Donald Trump, has called for a “real wall” to be put up between the U.S. and Mexico. And he plans to get the Mexican government to pay for it.

The possibility of a Canadian wall, on the other hand, got a whole lot of laughs online.