BA Debacle Puts Spotlight on Airlines’ Old IT Systems, Cuts

The catastrophic IT failure at British Airways that ruined travel plans for 75,000 people has raised questions about some older airlines’ focus on costs to the detriment of investment in new computer systems.

As British Airways resumed full service Tuesday, shares in its parent company, International Airlines Group, dropped 3 percent as investors appeared to worry that the company’s quality of service may have been undermined by recent efforts to save money.

 

Disaster struck on Saturday, when the company’s computer systems went down and there was no functioning back-up. The airline cancelled all flights and only managed to resume full service on Tuesday.

 

“Although cost cutting has been good for the share price in the last year, it will come back to bite IAG if it stops them from doing what they are supposed to do: Fly passengers to their destinations,” said Kathleen Brooks, the research director at City Index.

 

IAG has been battling tough competition, even as it has faced pressure on its earnings from a weaker pound following Britain’s decision to leave the European Union. The company issued a profit warning following the Brexit vote nearly a year ago.

 

Cost pressures aggravated an already complicated situation. Renewing IT systems is complex, time-consuming and expensive — a factor that prompts many companies to put it off as long as possible, said Loizos Heracleous, a professor of strategy at Warwick Business School.

 

The problem with IT systems is recurring across the industry, particularly among established airlines. In August, Delta Air lines cancelled hundreds of flights when a power outage likewise knocked out its computer systems worldwide.

 

Airlines face challenges with their IT systems also due to linkages across their systems. There’s further demand on the system when companies consolidate — as has been the case among airlines — since “IT issues get heightened and any vulnerabilities are exposed.”

 

Such troubles give an advantage to newer airlines such as Ryanair, a cost-cutting BA rival that focuses on short haul budget flights.

 

“The ability to set up an airline from scratch by-passes a lot of the legacy issues, because you can go for state-of-the-art systems,” Heracleous said. “Newer airlines can also invest in IT systems that are more easily upgradeable and scaleable. An airline such as Ryanair, that is also financially successful, has more leeway to divert needed resources towards upgrading its IT systems.”

 

Capitalizing on BA’s troubles, Ryanair said it had seen “strong bookings” over the weekend. Its Twitter account rubbed salt into the wound with tweets that poked fun and added the hashtag “ShouldHaveFlownRyanair.”

 

The company’s chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs, admitted on the BBC “we had a bit of fun on social media.”

 

“We don’t take social media seriously but we do take IT very seriously and that is why we’ve never had an outage,” he told the BBC.

 

Ryanair posted a 6 percent increase in annual profits Tuesday to 1.3 billion euros ($1.4 billion) despite “difficult trading conditions,” caused by terror attacks in European cities and a sharp decline in the British pound.

 

BA, meanwhile, is counting up the cost of an IT debacle that some have estimated could run into the tens of millions. There are also all those news clips of passengers swearing they will never fly the airline again.

 

“The whole sorry episode has undeniably put a dent in BA’s reputation for delivering a premium service,” said George Salmon, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

 

 


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Goldman Sachs Criticized for Venezuelan Bond Deal

The head of Venezuela’s opposition-led congress on Monday blasted U.S.-based bank Goldman Sachs for a financial transaction that he said would prop up his country’s unpopular socialist government while exacerbating difficulties for ordinary Venezuelans.

National Assembly President Julio Borges denounced the bank for “trying to make a quick buck off the suffering of the Venezuelan people,” he said in an open letter to the bank’s leader, criticizing last week’s deeply discounted purchase of $2.8 billion in Venezuelan bonds.

Borges said in the letter that he would recommend “to any future democratic government of Venezuela not to recognize or pay on these bonds.”

As The Wall Street Journal first reported Sunday, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. last Thursday closed a deal in which it agreed to pay Venezuela’s Central Bank $865 million for the bonds issued by state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA (Pdvsa) in 2014. That’s a rate of 31 cents on the dollar. A London-based intermediary, Dinosaur Group, handled the transaction, The Journal noted in a follow-up story.

In seeking money to satisfy creditors such as Russia and China, the Venezuelan government was considering “all options,” The Journal quoted the country’s oil minister as saying last week.  

Borges said the assembly would begin a probe into the deal. Venezuela’s opposition leaders repeatedly have asked foreign governments and investors not to do business with the Maduro administration, which it has accused of human rights abuses.

 

Venezuela has been wracked by nearly two months of street demonstrations, sparked by the jailing of Maduro’s political rivals, delayed elections and widespread shortages of food, medicine and other basics. At least 60 people have died in the protests.

Goldman Sachs defended its actions in a statement it emailed to Voice of America:

“We bought these bonds, which were issued in 2014, on the secondary market from a broker and did not interact with the Venezuelan government. … Many investors make similar investments daily through mutual funds, index funds and ETFs which also hold Pdvsa bonds. We recognize that the situation is complex and evolving and that Venezuela is in crisis. We agree that life there has to get better, and we made the investment in part because we believe it will.”

Keeping score

Borges warned that any future Venezuelan government “would not forget where Goldman Sachs stood when it had to choose between supporting the Maduro dictatorship and democracy for our country,” The Wall Street Journal quoted the lawmaker as saying.

Venezuelan economist Ángel García Banchs, a Central University of Venezuela professor and Econometrica think tank director, said the bank “is making a financial bet [that] the government is going to fall. This bet, I think, is correct” – and will pay off for the institution and its investors, he predicted.

But García questioned the ethics of the deal, calling it “a very serious mistake.”

Similarly, José Méndez, a Venezuelan petroleum engineer who studied at the George Washington University in Washington, described the investment as “criminal behavior.”

“Really, these are criminal operations against the republic,” Méndez said. “How is it possible that Goldman Sachs is [paying] 31 cents for every dollar that must be extracted from the bloodstream of the Venezuelan nation? That cannot be.”

VOA Spanish Service correspondent Alvaro Algarra contributed to this report from Caracas, Venezuela.


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Workers Wanted: French Jobs Unfilled Despite High Unemployment

France, troubled for years by high unemployment, is now grappling with a lack of qualified workers. While it still has 3.5 million registered jobseekers, a growing number of positions lie unfilled because companies can’t find the right people.

Many company bosses are pinning their hopes on newly-elected President Emmanuel Macron, and specifically his labor reform plans, to help find willing and able workers.

One such employer is Philippe Girard, who heads the French subsidiary of British construction equipment maker JCB. Despite offering above market pay rates for entry level jobs, his firm has been unable to fill 50 posts for maintenance technicians in its dealership network for more than a year.

“It’s becoming a brake on our development because clients increasingly want maintenance service on construction sites and without technicians we can’t meet their needs,” he told Reuters.

Girard has also been looking in vain for six months for three sales executives at the JCB France headquarters in Sarcelles, a satellite town of Paris where unemployment is in double digits.

Critics of the current regulatory regime say rigid labor rules and poorly adapted training unnecessarily keep the unemployment rate close to 10 percent.

Macron hopes to fix the mismatch of supply and demand for workers by pouring billions of euros into training while simplifying the labor code.

The object is to make it easier for employers to hire but also to shed staff, should their business turn down in the future. To sweeten the pill, he also wants to expand unemployment benefits for people seeking a career change.

Similar but less ambitious measures to free up the labor market have in the past run into resistance in parliament, and provoked sometimes violent protests on the streets.

Undaunted, Macron has made the reforms his top priority, starting talks with trade unions last week. He is also seeking a majority for his party in legislative elections next month to strengthen his hand in pushing them through parliament.

Skills gap

Companies’ demand for workers is surging as the economy slowly picks up. Government employment agencies had received 274,000 unfilled job offers as of April, up 14 percent in a year and close to levels not seen since November 2011.

Demand for workers on longer-term contracts — which French firms often avoid, fearing they will be unable to get rid of staff in the future — is growing faster than for short-term hires. More than half of the offers received were for contracts of over six months.

Recruitment group Manpower found in a recent survey that nearly one in four French employers was struggling to find workers.

“We clearly have a skills gap between what our customers are looking for and people’s real skills,” Manpower France head Alain Roumilhac told Reuters.

With even relatively lowly-paid industrial workers usually needing to use digital technology, Manpower is investing millions and receives public subsidies to train workers up to meet employers’ expectations.

Eric Labaye, a senior partner at the McKinsey consultancy, said that while 90 percent of jobs require at least basic proficiency with digital technologies, 40 percent of the workforce did not have such elementary skills.

“Adapting the labor market and skills is clearly a priority. The primary focus should be on getting more people with the right skillset into growing sectors. Second is the development of these growing sectors themselves,” Labaye told Reuters.

One example is booming demand for data specialists. France employs fewer of them as a proportion of its workforce than any other OECD country except Turkey, despite a world-class reputation for higher mathematics, according to figures from the 35-nation organization.

Big money

Macron has said he wants to invest 15 billion euros ($16.8 billion) in building up skills for a million youths and another million low-qualified, long-term unemployed people.

France already spends nearly 32 billion euros a year on professional training, equivalent to 1.5 percent of economic output, but only 15 percent goes to training job seekers, according to data from the Labor Ministry.

“France puts a lot of money into the training system but it is very, very complex,” said OECD economist Nicola Brandt, who is preparing a report on France for the organization.

“More money is always better, but we have an issue of money not being used in the right way, basically not going to the people who need it most,” she said.

Extra money for training, as well as extending unemployment benefits to cover people who want to leave jobs for a new profession, could help make Macron’s reforms more palatable to critics.

Eager to push ahead on labor reform quickly, Macron launched talks with unions last week knowing he will have to overcome resistance to his plans to ease regulation.

Though it would help if he wins a parliamentary majority, labor reform is always a deeply sensitive issue in France, where high job security is cherished.

His Socialist predecessor, Francois Hollande, tried to introduce more working time flexibility and rein in labor tribunal challenges and payouts last year, leading to violent student protests in French cities.

Eventually Hollande’s government – in which Macron served as economy minister — invoked special powers to impose the reforms by decree due to a lack of support in parliament.

“Only one mistake could break everything. Macron is trying to be as clever as possible, especially with the unions because even if he has a majority in parliament he has a very narrow path to deploy the program,” Manpower’s Roumilhac says.


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Could Big Data Help Solve Hunger in Africa?

Computer algorithms power much of modern life from our Facebook feeds to international stock exchanges. Could they help end malnutrition and hunger in Africa? The International Center for Tropical Agriculture thinks so.

 

The International Centre for Tropical Agriculture has spent the past four years developing the Nutrition Early Warning System, or NEWS.

The goal is to catch the subtle signs of a hunger crisis brewing in Africa as much as a year in advance.

 

CIAT says the system uses machine learning. As more information is fed into the system, the algorithms will get better at identifying patterns and trends. The system will get smarter.

 

Information Technology expert Andy Jarvis leads the project.

“The cutting edge side of this is really about bringing in streams of information from multiple sources and making sense of it. … But it is a huge volume of information and what it does, the novelty then, is making sense of that using things like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and condensing it into simple messages,” he said.

 

Other nutrition surveillance systems exist, like FEWSnet, the Famine Early Warning System Network which was created in the mid-1980’s.

 

But CIAT says NEWS will be able to draw insights from a massive amount of diverse data enabling it to identify hunger risks faster than traditional methods.

 

“What is different about NEWS is that it pays attention to malnutrition, not just drought or famine, but the nutrition outcome that really matters, malnutrition especially in women and children. For the first time, we are saying these are the options way ahead of time. That gives policy makers an opportunity to really do what they intend to do which is make the lives of women and children better in Africa,” said Dr. Mercy Lung’aho, a CIAT nutrition expert.

 

While food emergencies like famine and drought grab headlines, the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture says chronic malnutrition affects one in four people in Africa, taking a serious toll on economic growth and leaving them especially vulnerable in times of crisis.

Senior policy officer Olufunso Somorin is with the Africa Development Bank.

“In 2030, 13 years from now, Africa is going to have 200 million children below the age of five. Now once a child is stunted or misses a level of nourishment at that age, it affects that child psychologically, economically, socially. So a stunted child in the future is actually a stunted economy. So linking issues of nutrition at individual level to Africa’s development and transformation on a broader scale is important,” said Somorin.

 

CIAT says African governments will be able to access NEWS via “nutrition dashboards” where they can get risk assessments, alerts, and recommendations.

The system is expected to become operational in four African countries, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia and Nigeria, by year’s end.


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Could Big Data Help End Hunger in Africa?

Computer algorithms power much of modern life from our Facebook feeds to international stock exchanges. Could they help end malnutrition and hunger in Africa? The International Center for Tropical Agriculture thinks so.

 

The International Center for Tropical Agriculture has spent the past four years developing the Nutrition Early Warning System, or NEWS.

The goal is to catch the subtle signs of a hunger crisis brewing in Africa as much as a year in advance.

 

CIAT says the system uses machine learning. As more information is fed into the system, the algorithms will get better at identifying patterns and trends. The system will get smarter.

 

Information Technology expert Andy Jarvis leads the project.

“The cutting edge side of this is really about bringing in streams of information from multiple sources and making sense of it. … But it is a huge volume of information and what it does, the novelty then, is making sense of that using things like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and condensing it into simple messages,” he said.

 

Other nutrition surveillance systems exist, like FEWSnet, the Famine Early Warning System Network which was created in the mid-1980s.

 

But CIAT says NEWS will be able to draw insights from a massive amount of diverse data enabling it to identify hunger risks faster than traditional methods.

 

“What is different about NEWS is that it pays attention to malnutrition, not just drought or famine, but the nutrition outcome that really matters, malnutrition especially in women and children. For the first time, we are saying these are the options way ahead of time. That gives policy makers an opportunity to really do what they intend to do which is make the lives of women and children better in Africa,” said Dr. Mercy Lung’aho, a CIAT nutrition expert.

 

While food emergencies like famine and drought grab headlines, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture says chronic malnutrition affects one in four people in Africa, taking a serious toll on economic growth and leaving them especially vulnerable in times of crisis.

Senior policy officer Olufunso Somorin is with the Africa Development Bank.

“In 2030, 13 years from now, Africa is going to have 200 million children below the age of five. Now once a child is stunted or misses a level of nourishment at that age, it affects that child psychologically, economically, socially. So a stunted child in the future is actually a stunted economy. So linking issues of nutrition at individual level to Africa’s development and transformation on a broader scale is important,” said Somorin.

 

CIAT says African governments will be able to access NEWS via “nutrition dashboards” where they can get risk assessments, alerts, and recommendations.

The system is expected to become operational in four African countries, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia and Nigeria, by year’s end.


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US Home Prices Rising 2 Times Faster Than Wages

U.S. home prices climbed in March at the strongest rate in nearly three year as a dwindling supply of houses for sale is causing prices to significantly outpace income growth.

The Standard & Poor’s CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index released Tuesday rose 5.9 percent over the past 12 months ended in March, the most since July 2014. Home values are increasing at more than double the pace of average hourly earnings, making it more difficult for many people to afford to buy a home.

 

“Over the last year, analysts suggested that one factor pushing prices higher was the unusually low inventory of homes for sale,” said David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “People are staying in their homes longer rather than selling and trading up.”

 

A steady job market has bulked up demand among many would-be buyers, but there are fewer properties on the market. Sales listings have plummeted 9 percent over the past year to 1.93 million, according to the National Association of Realtors. The shortage of homes to buy has caused prices to rise sharply in many metro areas.

 

The largest annual gain was in Seattle, where prices have surged 12.3 percent. Portland, Oregon recorded a 9.2 percent increase, while Dallas prices rose 8.6 percent.

Of the 20 cities in the index, the weakest gain was in New York City — an area where home prices are already high relative to median incomes. Home prices in New York City have risen 4.1 percent in the past year, still much higher than U.S. average hourly earnings that have increased 2.5 percent over the past 12 months, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

 

 


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Chicago Startup Founded by Military Veterans ‘Cultivating Peace’ in Afghanistan

At Café Bar-Ba-Reeba on Chicago’s north side, there is one key ingredient that could make or break Executive Chef Matt Holmes’ menu.

“We feature it in our paeallas, which are our signature dish here at Café Bar Ba Reeba, as well as use it in a dessert and some other dishes as well, so its incredibly important to have high quality saffron,” Holmes explained to VOA from his test kitchen above the restaurant, where he was preparing one of those signature dishes.

Saffron has long been one of the world’s most expensive spices, at times traded as currency. The saffron “crocus” that produces the spice grows mostly in parts of Europe, Iran and India.

It is a staple in cuisine throughout Asia, the Middle East and the Mediterranean, but less so in the United States, where saffron — while a $60 million market  has limited appeal.

But Rumi Spice, Holmes’ saffron supplier, is hoping to change that.

“We are named after Juhalladin Rumi, he was a 13th century poet and philosopher who was born in present day Afghanistan, and a Sufi mystic,” says founder Kimberly Jung.  “One of his most famous sayings is, ‘Where there is ruin, there is hope for treasure.’”

Veterans inspired by relationships

Kimberly Jung, Keith Alaniz and Emily Miller are three of the founders of Rumi Spice, U.S. military veterans who served in Afghanistan who returned with more than just combat experience.

“I was never able to resolve just going to Afghanistan, spending time, and then leaving and never thinking about the place again, especially when you form relationships with people who live there,” says Alaniz.

Those relationships inspired the business strategy for Rumi Spice — increasing demand in the U.S. for saffron produced by Afghan farmers they met in Herat province. Saffron has very limited demand in Afghanistan, leaving the market for it outside the country.

“Afghanistan has essentially been cut off from the international market for 30 years,” says Alaniz.  “They are producing a great product but they aren’t able to get a fair value for their goods because they are not able to export it anywhere.”

Another challenge

Afghanistan’s enduring instability isn’t the only challenge to getting Afghan saffron to market.

“Near to 20 years we’ve been growing saffron, there are still no certificates for our saffron product,” says Abdullah Faiz, chancellor of Heart University, which is working with Purdue University in Indiana to develop a “department of food technology,” with Afghan saffron farmers in mind.

“The department of food technology will teach and give training for the farmers to produce the saffron with hygiene quality,” says Faiz, adding that it could help increase demand for Afghan saffron in new markets.

Quality, taste is key

A lack of international certification hasn’t stood in the way of Rumi Spice, which conducts rigorous tests to make sure the saffron it is importing is clean and pure before arriving in the United States.

The quality and taste of Rumi Spice saffron is what attracted Matt Holmes as a customer.

“It’s much higher potency,” says Holmes.  “So while we pay a premium to use Rumi, it actually goes a longer way, so that’s another benefit of using a higher quality product  you can stretch how much you are using each time.”

Famous investor

“Our supply is outpacing our demand,” says Alaniz, “which is good for us because it keeps our prices low at the moment, but we hope to increase more demand here in the U.S. so we can purchase more saffron.”

“The good thing about Rumi is they have a premium product that’s fantastic to use,” says Chef Matt Homes.  “You are kind of doing double duty with the program that they have with helping farmers in Afghanistan and helping women, being a positive influence instead of just selling a product, so you really get the best of both worlds.”

These are qualities investors also are noticing.  Rumi Spice was recently featured on the U.S. reality television show “Shark Tank,” where entrepreneur Marc Cuban committed $250,000 for a 15 percent stake in the company, signaling his faith in Rumi Spice, and the future potential for saffron grown in Afghanistan.

 


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Border Closure Hurts Afghan-Pakistan Produce Trade

Cross-border fighting between Afghanistan and Pakistan has suspended trade worth millions of dollars and stranded hundreds of trucks loaded with fruits and vegetables at the border, where the produce stands to spoil in the rising heat.

Pakistan had temporarily closed the Chaman border crossing, across from Afghanistan’s Spin boldak, after a frontier skirmish earlier this month between Afghan and Pakistani border guards left more than 10 people dead. Global economic institutions say South Asia is one of the world’s least economically connected regions, and the periodic closures of border crossings complicate things further.

Summer is peak time for fruit and vegetable production in the two countries. Under normal circumstances around this time of the year, a significant portion of Afghanistan’s grapes and pomegranates is ferried overland to Pakistan.

Pakistan’s mangoes and vegetables go the opposite direction, along with bilateral trade in many other commodities — some legal and some otherwise.

Part of the Afghan fruit produce is sold in Chaman and nearby villages; the remainder finds its way to markets across Pakistan.

It’s a long-established system that relies heavily on trust: Pakistani fruit traders send advance payments to their Afghan counterparts, who then send the fruit after it’s harvested. But so far this year, the Chaman businessmen say they have not cut the usual deals because the border closure have created the risk of coming up empty-handed.

Amant Khan, a fruit trader in Chaman, said he suffered losses last year as tensions rose between the two countries.

“This season we did not give the grape or melon dealers anything,” he said. “In fact, we decided not to do business with Afghanistan.”

For traders in Waish Mandi, a thriving Afghan market town across from Chaman, these are hard financial times, too. Hundreds of people, who used to benefit from border trade, have lost work. Unable to move their merchandise across the border, goods worth millions of dollars are stranded in truck containers.

Apart from the fruit trade, bilateral trade between Afghanistan and Pakistanonce worth $3 billion a year has dropped to $1.2 billion, said Khan Jan Alkozai, president of the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Pakistan’s own fruit exports to Central Asia via Afghanistan, which usually average 2 million pounds, also suffer because of border closures, Alkozai said.

Daro Khan, former vice president for the Afghanistan-Pakistan Joint Chamber of Commerce, said Pakistani farmers and businessman have not recovered from losses due to border closures last year.


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India’s Limits on Selling Cattle Could Hurt Industry, Diets

A new ban imposed by India’s government on the sale of cows and buffaloes for slaughter to protect animals considered holy by many Hindus is drawing widespread protests from state governments and animal-related industries.

Many state governments criticized the ban as a blow to beef and leather exports that will leave hundreds of thousands jobless and deprive millions of Christians, Muslims and poor Hindus of a cheap source of protein.

 

The rules, which took effect Friday, require that cattle traders pledge that any cows or buffalos sold are not intended for slaughter.

 

At least one state government is planning a challenge in court. Some have said the ban infringes on states’ commercial autonomy and are calling for a nationwide protest.

 

Others say the ban will hurt farmers who will be forced to continue feeding aged animals, and that millions of unproductive cattle will be turned out on the streets.

 

The new rules also propose the setting up of a vast animal monitoring bureaucracy, including animal inspectors and veterinarians, to ensure the rules are followed. Traditionally, cattle fairs and markets allow the sale of animals headed to abattoirs to provide raw materials used in dozens of industries, including leather making, soap and fertilizer.

 

The state governments have appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to repeal the order, which they say was issued without consultations with them. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party has been pushing a Hindu nationalist agenda since it came to power in 2014.

 

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, the top elected official in southern Kerala state, wrote to Modi on Sunday describing the restrictions as a “drastic move” that would have “far-reaching consequences and would be detrimental to democracy.”

 

He said the move amounts to “an intrusion into the rights of the states” in India’s federal structure and violates the principles of the Indian Constitution.

 

The government of West Bengal state also protested the move, saying the Modi government cannot make such decisions unilaterally.

 

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the state would not accept the imposition of such restrictions on its commercial authority. She described it as a step by the Modi government to “destroy the federal structure of the country.”

 

“We won’t accept the decision. It is unconstitutional. We will challenge it legally,” Banerjee told reporters Monday.

 

Hindus, who form 80 percent of India’s 1.3 billion people, consider cows to be sacred, and for many eating beef is taboo. In many Indian states, the slaughtering of cows and selling of beef is either restricted or banned. India has the highest number of vegetarians in the world as a result of Hinduism’s predominance, although not all Hindus are vegetarians.

 

While the eating of beef is not a crime in many states, slaughtering a cow carries a punishment of up to seven years in jail throughout the country. In Gujarat state, lawmakers have approved a bill increasing the punishment for killing a cow to life imprisonment.

 

Critics say the new rules, ostensibly to protect the way animals are treated and transported, are in keeping with demands of Hindu nationalists, who have long been pressing for a nationwide ban on the sale of beef. The past two years have also seen a rise in vigilante attacks on Muslims and lower caste Hindus involved in the cattle trade. Several deaths have occurred.

 

On Monday, police arrested seven people on suspicion of assaulting two Muslim men who were transporting meat in western Maharashtra state. The men were beaten and forced to chant Hindu slogans by a vigilante group on Sunday, police said.

 

Meanwhile, leather and meat industry groups said the ban could push them out of business.

 

Fauzan Alavi of the All India Meat and Livestock Exporters Association said beef exports, which had been growing rapidly, have already been affected. “Such a drastic move is bound to hit the industry,” Alavi said Sunday.

 

The government “has handed a death certificate to us,” said Ramesh K. Juneja of the Council of Leather Exports.

 

 


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US Considering Laptop Ban on All International Flights

The U.S. Homeland Security chief says he’s considering banning laptop computers from the passenger cabins of all international flights to and from the United States.

John Kelly says there are signs of a “real threat” against civilian aviation from carry-on electronic devices.

Speaking on the Fox News Sunday television program, Kelly said terrorists are “obsessed” with the idea of “knocking down an airplane in flight.”

The ban would expand a March order that affects about 50 flights per day to the United States from 10 cities, in the Middle East and North Africa. The ban requires all electronics larger than a smartphone to be checked in.

About 3,250 flights a week are expected this summer between European Union countries and the United States, according to aviation industry figures.

Britain has taken similar measures targeting flights from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.

In Europe last week, during President Donald Trump’s nine-day foreign trip, Kelly met with European Commission officials in Brussels to discuss a possible laptop ban in airplane cabins.

 

 


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