Bhupinder Singh Hooda: Industrial Plot allotment scandal: Former Haryana CM Hooda charge-sheeted by ED


New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has filed a prosecution complaint (equivalent of a charge sheet) against former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and 21 others in an alleged land scandal.

The agency has filed a charge sheet in the Panchkula Industrial Plot Allotment scandal. The case involves allocation of 14 Industrial plots worth Rs. 30.34 crores to the acquaintances of Hooda in the year 2013.

The federal agency launched an investigation on an FIR registered by the State Vigilance Bureau, Haryana in the year 2015. The said FIR was transferred to CBI which registered a case in 2016 on charges of alleged illegal allotment of 14 industrial plots in Phase – 1 & 2 of Panchkula, Haryana.

The agency, in a press release, said that further probe revealed that as a result of criminal conspiracy, the then Chief Minister, Haryana and ex-officio Chairman, HUDA, four retired IAS officers and other office bearers of HUDA, Panchkula, Haryana illegally benefited pre-selected acquaintances of the then CM, Haryana by allotting them 14 Industrial Plots denying allotment to more worthy applicants.

Besides Hooda, four retired IAS officers namely Dharam Pal Singh Nagal (the then Chief Administrator, HUDA); Surjit Singh (the then Administrator, HUDA; Subhash Chandra Kansal (the then Chief Controller of Finance, HUDA) and Narinder Kumar Solanki (the then Zonal Administrator, Faridabad Zone, HUDA) and other HUDA official Bharat Bhushan Taneja (the then Superintendent, HUDA) and all the 14 allottees and beneficiaries of the Industrial Plots Allocation case have been named in the charge sheet by ED.

The agency has alleged that it has come out during the investigation that the price fixed for the subject allotment were kept 4-5 times below circle rate and 7-8 times market rate. The criteria for allotment was altered 18 days after the last date of application and when all the applicant data was in possession of HUDA. “Criteria was altered in such a way to favour the pre – selected applicants by increasing the discretion at the hands of the interview committee. The entire interview process was vitiated and compromised as no formal record of marks allocation was kept”, the agency has claimed.

It added “hence, worthy applicants were driven out of merit and applicants who were closely connected to Bhupender Singh Hooda, in terms of his personal capacity and also in terms of the political party he belongs to, were allotted these plots. All 14 industrial plots stand attached as per the provisions of PMLA, 2002 by Enforcement Directorate in August 2019 and the attachment was confirmed by the PMLA Adjudicating Authority in February 2020”.



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Alexei Navalny says Russian agent admitted to poisoning plot – POLITICO



Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny tricked one of the agents allegedly involved in an operation to poison him into confessing to the plot, investigative site Bellingcat reported Monday.

Navalny, pretending to be a senior official, phoned a member of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) — which has been accused of trying to murder him in August — and demanded to know why the assassination attempt had failed.

The operative, Konstantin Kudryavtsev, seemed to believe Navalny’s cover and spoke in detail about the effort to poison the opposition leader, apparently confirming the FSB’s involvement.

Navalny fell ill during a flight and was rushed to a hospital in Siberia following an emergency landing. He was eventually evacuated to Germany, where toxicology tests showed that he was poisoned with the Russian nerve agent Novichok.

“If [the plane] had flown a little longer and they hadn’t landed it abruptly somehow and so on, maybe it all would have gone differently,” Kudryavtsev said during the 49-minute phone call. “If it hadn’t been for the prompt work of the medics, the paramedics on the landing strip, and so on.”

He also said that the Novichok was put onto Navalny’s underwear in his hotel room: “They told us to work on the inner side of the underpants.”

Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in Navalny’s poisoning. Last week, President Vladimir Putin told reporters that if Russian operatives had been behind the attempted murder, “probably they would have finished it.”





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Sun Hung Kai Properties, Chinachem Group may bid in rare ‘two-envelope’ tender for prime commercial plot next to Hong Kong’s IFC




Hong Kong’s biggest developer by value, Sun Hung Kai Properties, and Chinachem Group said they may bid for a prime plot of commercial land to be sold via a rare tender process that takes into account participants’ design plans as well as cash bids.The government is using a “two-envelope” approach for the sale of New Central Harbourfront Site 3, meaning the winner will be determined by assessing both price and design proposal. This deviates from the practice of awarding sites based on the…



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The Republican plot to overturn JFK’s election victory


On Monday, the electoral college will meet to ratify the victory of Democrat Joe Biden over President Donald Trump, who has refused to concede. Some Trump backers are pressing states to release electors pledged for Biden. At least 33 states prohibit such “faithless” electors and most other states void switched votes.

The 1960 presidential election set off a political storm, much like this year’s contest. Kennedy wound up winning by only about 113,000 votes out of 69 million cast.

President Dwight Eisenhower and President-elect John F. Kennedy are pictured at the White House on December 6, 1960.Credit:AP

Republicans suspected voter fraud in 11 states and filed suits in two of them, Texas and Illinois, which Kennedy won by fewer than 9000 votes. The suit in Illinois charged that the Democratic stronghold of Cook County had dug up Kennedy voters from the cemeteries of Chicago.

Judges threw out both suits and the action moved to the Electoral College. Nixon took no part in the vote challenges and told a reporter that “our country cannot afford the agony of a constitutional crisis.”

Immediately after the 1960 election, electors from Alabama and Mississippi agreed not to cast their votes for Kennedy, who had won both states. All of Mississippi’s eight electors and six of Alabama’s 11 electors were unpledged. The electors lobbied their counterparts in the electoral college to follow their lead.

July 15, 1960: Senator John F. Kennedy gets a standing ovation as he steps up to accept the Democratic Party's nomination for president during a Los Angeles Coliseum rally.

July 15, 1960: Senator John F. Kennedy gets a standing ovation as he steps up to accept the Democratic Party’s nomination for president during a Los Angeles Coliseum rally.Credit:AP

Organisers of the movement came up with the three-point “Plan To Give the South a Partial Vote in the Affairs of the Nation.”

Plan A was for electors from 11 Southern states to use their clout to persuade Kennedy to stop US aid to communist countries and to support “states’ rights” – a code for resisting racial integration.

If Kennedy refused, the electors would move to Plan B: a resolution calling for “reversing the position of candidates” in the election. That is, Vice President-elect Lyndon Johnson of Texas would be president and Kennedy would be vice-president.

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Finally, there was Plan C: Republican electors from all 50 states would be invited to meet in Chicago to pick a president from a list of “outstanding Southern men.” Among the choices were Byrd, segregationist governors Orval Faubus of Arkansas and Ross Barnett of Mississippi, and Georgia Senator Richard Russell.

The goal was to have electors elect the president within the electoral college, said Lea Harris, a Democratic lawyer in Alabama. If that failed, the electors would seek to switch enough votes to keep Kennedy from getting the 269 electoral votes needed for election and throw the race into the House of Representatives.

This had happened twice before in US history. In 1800, the House picked Thomas Jefferson as president over Aaron Burr when the Electoral College vote ended in a tie. In 1825, the House chose John Quincy Adams over Andrew Jackson, who had won the popular vote.

Over the years, there have been only about 165 “faithless” electors. The US Supreme Court recently upheld the rights of states to reject the votes of such electors.

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The rebel Southern electors wrote to Republican electors urging them to switch their votes from Nixon. Republican Henry Irwin of Oklahoma, a pledged Nixon elector opposed to what he called Kennedy’s “socialist-labour” views, was receptive. It soon “became apparent to a shrewd observer that a possibility existed to deny the presidency to Kennedy,” he said later.

Irwin sent telegrams to 218 Republican electors urging them to switch from Nixon to Byrd. He also wrote all the GOP state chairmen. He got about 40 replies, but no commitments. “Feel obligated to Nixon,” one Kansas elector responded.

Oklahoma’s Republican Party chairman blasted Irwin’s scheme. “He apparently feels his opinion is superior to the judgment of one-half million Oklahoma voters who chose Richard Nixon,” the chairman said.

The rebellion spread in the South. Mississippi Governor Barnett wrote to electors in Southern states urging them to cast their votes for Byrd and Goldwater. In Alabama, the Mobile Press declared in an editorial that “Southerners deeply concerned over racial mixing should lift their voices in an appeal to all their presidential electors.”

Efforts to release electors to vote for whomever they wished sprung up in Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, Virginia and South Carolina. “This had been a real threat,” JFK biographer Theodore Sorensen wrote later.

Two weeks before the Electoral College vote, organiser Harris predicted that Kennedy wouldn’t receive enough votes to be elected. The White Citizens Council newspaper in Mississippi assured its readers that a Southerner would win the presidency.

The rebel yells of revolt ended in a whimper, however. No part of the Southern “plan” was ever carried out. Most electors felt morally obligated to cast their votes based on their state’s election results.

One South Carolina elector for Kennedy said he ignored numerous “crackpot” requests to change his vote, including an offer from the “Flying Tigers Rights Party” to give him stock in a company in the Philippines.

Kennedy won 303 Electoral College votes to Nixon’s 219. Byrd got only 15 votes, one from Oklahoma’s Irwin and 14 from the Alabama and Mississippi electors. All 14 electors voted for South Carolina Democratic Senator Strom Thurmond for vice-president.

After the overwhelming defeat, the Alabama electors complained that Southerners could have controlled the election, but “their sycophantic political leaders failed them miserably.”

Ironically, as Vice-President to Eisenhower, it fell to Nixon to announce the Electoral College vote and his own defeat in early January in the House chamber. After starting alphabetically with the first votes from Alabama for Byrd, Nixon dryly remarked, “The gentleman from Virginia is now in the lead.”

Later that year, the Senate conducted hearings into proposals to revamp the Electoral College. The system needed to be “brought out of the horse and buggy era and into the jet age,” said Senator Mike Mansfield, of Montana.

Sixty years later, the horse and buggy version is still up and running.

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Belgium Tries Iranian Diplomat Over Bomb Plot


An Iranian diplomat goes on trial in Belgium on Friday accused of plotting to bomb an Iranian opposition rally outside Paris, in a case that has stoked tensions with Tehran.

The case shines an uncomfortable light on Tehran’s international activities just as it hopes for a thaw in relations with the West as US President Donald Trump, who pulled Washington out of the Iran nuclear deal, is due to leave office.

In June 2018, Belgian authorities thwarted what they said was an attempt to smuggle explosives to France to attack a meeting of one of Iran’s exiled opposition movements which was attended by close allies of US President Donald Trump.

Later that year, the French government accused Iran’s intelligence service of being behind the operation, a charge the Islamic republic has furiously denied.

Assadollah Assadi, a 48-year-old Iranian diplomat formerly based in Vienna, faces life in prison if convicted.

The National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI), which includes the People’s Mojahedin of Iran or (MEK), organised a rally in Villepinte outside Paris on June 30, 2018.

Several well-known international figures — including Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and former British officials as well as Franco-Colombian former senator Ingrid Betancourt — and NCRI leader Maryam Rajavi were to attend.

On the same morning, Belgian police intercepted a Belgian-Iranian couple driving from Antwerp and carrying half-a-kilo of TATP explosives and a detonator.

“We can’t imagine the scale of the disaster averted,” said lawyer Georges-Henri Beauthier, who is representing the interests of the NCRI, along with French colleague William Bourdon.

Outside the court, Bourdon declared: “It’s an unprecedented, historic trial. It the first time that, symbolically, the mullahs’ regime is in the dock and will be judged through the case against its so-called diplomats.”

The arrested couple, 36-year-old Nassimeh Naami and 40-year-old Amir Saadouni, join Assadi in the dock, alongside another alleged accomplice, Mehrdad Arefani, 57.

All four are charged with attempting to carry out a terrorist attack and taking part in the activity of a terrorist group. All face life sentences.





Thousands of Iranian opposition supporters from all over Europe, many of them bussed in, attended the annual meeting of the NCRI a couple of years ago
 AFP / Zakaria ABDELKAFI

Assadi was arrested while he was travelling through Germany where he had no immunity from prosecution, being outside of the country of his diplomatic posting.

Arefani, an Iranian poet who had lived in Belgium for more than a decade, was arrested in France in 2018 after Belgium issued a European arrest warrant.

Counsel representing those targeted by the alleged attack say Arefani was close to Assadi, said to be the architect of the plot, and point to an Austrian SIM card found in his possession.

The two men deny any connection.

Dimitri de Beco, defence counsel for Assadi, has accused the civil plaintiffs of trying to turn the case into a political trial on behalf of the opposition movement.

According to Iran expert Francois Nicoullaud — a former French ambassador to Tehran — Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani was surprised to learn about the failed attack.

“Visiting Europe at the time, he was absolutely furious to learn about this intelligence service operation, on which he hadn’t been consulted,” the diplomat told AFP.

At the time of the alleged plot, Rouhani was trying to maintain the support of European capitals for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which was abandoned by the Trump administration but remains on life-support as European capitals try to keep Iran on board.

When Paris pointed the finger at Iranian intelligence, an Iranian spokesman voiced denial and alleged that opponents of the deal in “certain quarters” were attempting to frame Tehran.

The trial is scheduled to take two days, Friday and then Thursday next week. The court is then expected to adjourn to consider its verdict before ruling early next year.

It also comes a day after a prisoner swap that saw the release of three Iranians jailed over a 2012 bomb plot in Thailand, in exchange for the freeing of an Australian-British lecturer imprisoned by Tehran for alleged spying.





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Can you foil the love tonight? – India’s ruling party invents a Muslim plot against Hindu women | Asia




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Rishi Sunak must plot a route out of the economic devastation caused by COVID | Politics News


The last nine months have been dominated by the health emergency of coronavirus.

We’ve stocked up on hand sanitiser and searched for the most comfortable face mask.

We’ve become so horribly familiar with the weekly choreography that we know which days of the week have the highest death tolls and when to expect a news conference from the prime minister.

Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance make such regular appearances in our living rooms that we feel on first name terms (or in the case of JVT, initials are enough).

And the politics, too, has been dominated by the health crisis – ordering lockdowns, spending billions on contracts, furloughing, shielding the NHS at all costs.

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Sunak warns of ‘hard choices’ on debt

But this week, the previously all-encompassing health emergency will have to shift to make space. It won’t be a pivot – the situation is still too perilous for that – but the developing economy can be ignored no longer.

On Sophy Ridge on Sunday this week we’ll be speaking to Chancellor Rishi Sunak ahead of next week’s Spending Review, which will lay bare the full extent of the economic crisis.

UK debt is now bigger than the entire economy and now stands at over £2trn – or 100.8% of GDP.

Around 10 million jobs have been furloughed throughout the crisis – with the government stepping in to directly pay up to 80% of their wages. The scheme has been extended – at significant cost – until the end of March.

Wednesday, when Mr Sunak will put forward the one year spending review, will be dominated by the appalling public finance figures.

And his immediate challenge will be to at least begin to set out a plan to rebalance the books, with an expected public sector pay freeze and spending restraints across government departments (not an easy sell for a prime minister and a chancellor who promised an end to austerity).

Rebalancing the finances is a colossal task. But there is an even bigger challenge for the chancellor: charting a road for the economy out of the devastation that coronavirus has caused.

The Treasury is increasingly worried about the longer-term economic consequences of the pandemic.

Some industries – airlines being the obvious example – may never fully recover. Others such as hospitality and events will take time to get back on their feet. Where will the jobs of the future come from instead?

There is also a concern about the unprecedented move to home working – a situation that many are embracing.

But if major corporations have proved that their staff can effectively work remotely, there will be consequences.

If proximity to the office is no longer an issue, British workers will no longer be competing for jobs against people who can base themselves in the UK, but those in Beijing, Bangladesh or Brazil as well.

What will this mean for employment in the future? How do we build an economy fit for the post-COVID world?

They are questions that at some point the chancellor must answer.

Watch Sophy Ridge On Sunday live from 8.30am on Sunday, followed by Sophy Ridge: The Take at 9.30am.



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Armenian politician arrested over alleged prime minister assassination plot following Azerbaijan peace deal



Armenia has prevented an assassination attempt on Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and the seizure of power by a group of former officials, the National Security Service (NSS) says.

Mr Pashinyan had come under pressure with thousands of demonstrators protesting since Tuesday and demanding he resign over a ceasefire that secured territorial advances for Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh after six weeks of fighting.

The NSS said its former head Artur Vanetsyan, the former head of the Republican Party parliamentary faction Vahram Baghdasaryan and war volunteer Ashot Minasyan were under arrest.

“The suspects were planning to illegally usurp power by murdering the prime minister and there were already potential candidates being discussed to replace him,” the NSS said in a statement.

Mr Pashinyan’s lawyers Lusine Sahakyan and Ervand Varosyan called the detention a “persecution” and denied the allegations against their client – that he was preparing to seize power after the prime minister’s murder.

Mr Pashinyan has faced violent street protests and fierce criticism from Armenia’s political opposition since he signed a peace deal with Azerbaijan to end fighting over the disputed region of Nagorny Karabakh, which erupted in September.

Earlier this week he said he had no choice but to sign the agreement to prevent further territorial losses. He said he was taking personal responsibility for the setbacks, but rejected calls to step down.

Armenia faced heavy losses by technologically superior Azeri troops and Mr Pashinyan agreed to cede large parts of the mostly Christian and ethnically Armenian region to Muslim-majority Azerbaijan in order to bring an end to the hostilities.

The ceasefire halted military action in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but populated by ethnic Armenians.

Under the agreement, 2,000 Russian peacekeeping troops are being deployed to the region.

Since the early 1990s, ethnic Armenians have held military control over all of Nagorno-Karabakh and substantial swathes of Azeri territory surrounding it. They have now lost much of the enclave itself as well as the surrounding territory. 



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Stephen Anthony Dunne avoids jail for ‘Mission Impossible’ ATM plot


A man used “Mission Impossible-style” tactics to break into cash-loaded automatic teller machines by entering through roofs and cutting into the machines with a grinder, a court has been told.

The court heard Irishman Stephen Anthony Dunne started as the scout for a group primarily targeting Suncorp ATMs across Brisbane and the Gold Coast, but ended up committing the crimes on his own and roping a friend into his final string of offences.

The attacks were described as protracted, organised and persistent, causing nearly half a million dollars’ worth of damage and lost profits.

Dunne, who had pleaded guilty earlier this year to six counts of enter premises and commit indictable offence by break, sat quietly through his sentencing at Brisbane District Court on Tuesday.

Crown prosecutor Clayton Wallis said the ATM attacks, which occurred between January 2017 and 2018, targeted the machine’s “bunker” – a locked room behind the interface that housed the cash-loaded safe.

Mr Wallis said offenders would gain entry by entering through the roof cavity of shopping centres and using a grinder to cut their way into the bunker.

Dunne, 41, became involved in the offending in June 2017, acting as a lookout for one of the break and enters.

The court was told he began to act on his own when he became aware of the methods and the potential yield he could gain.

After one successful break, Dunne targeted ATMs in places that include Arana Hills, Labrador and Palm Beach using the same methods but was thwarted due to equipment malfunctioning.

“It’s Mission Impossible-style, making his way into bunkers, trying to cut it open with grinders,” Mr Wallis said.

“It was organised, there was planning and deliberation.”

On one occasion, Dunne broke through a wall to gain access to the ATM.

He was arrested after successfully breaking into another ATM at a shopping centre in Aspley in January 2018.

Defence lawyer Angus Edwards said Dunne, from Dublin, led a good life prior to his offending and had worked as a telco rigger across Ireland, Scotland, Nicaragua and Australia.

The court heard he said his client fell into drugs and alcohol abuse and became involved with “criminally-minded men” after learning of his father’s sexual abuse.

Mr Edwards said Dunne wanted to be a better father to his children.

The court was told Dunne’s cocaine use was “largely the catalyst” for the offending.

Chief judge Brian Devereaux sentenced Dunne to five years’ jail but wholly suspended his term.

More than 300 days spent in pre-sentence custody was declared as time served.

Dunne also received a three-year probation order.



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The Plot to Kidnap Me


Look no further than the president calling me a “dictator” on Fox News, Mitch McConnell laughing on the debate stage as his Democratic challenger called on him to save lives by passing a COVID-19 relief bill, or Republican legislative leaders right here in Michigan fraternizing with those who stormed the Michigan capitol, long guns in hand. From the White House all the way down to state and local governments, these leaders have shown a disdain for unity and have failed to rally fellow Americans against a common enemy: COVID-19.

Even now, as leaders from both sides of the aisle call on him to tone down his violent rhetoric, Trump just keeps going, hostile as ever. He is trying to distract Americans from his failure to protect our families and trying to divide us further to win the election. He has taken to Twitter to spread lies and launch cheap insults against those with whom he disagrees. Eight months into the pandemic, he still does not have a plan to protect our frontline workers or rebuild our economy. He has only lies, vitriol, and hate. And as we saw earlier this month, his violent rhetoric puts leaders across the country in danger.

We cannot count on President Trump to rebuild America. We cannot expect him to unite us against violence and hate. Fueling the deep divisions within our country is a tactic he has been using for years, often with the help of social-media platforms like Facebook, which domestic terrorists used to organize the plot against me.

I grew up during a time when Republicans and Democrats routinely worked across the aisle to get things done, whether it was at the federal level or at the state level right here in Michigan. I grew up in a bipartisan household, with a dad who worked for a Republican governor and a mom who worked for the Democratic state attorney general. This was a time when, as the late Representative John Dingell wrote in his last words to America, leaders “observed modicums of respect even as we fought, often bitterly and savagely, over issues that were literally life and death.” Our leaders knew that at the end of the day, we are all Americans; we all deserve to be treated with humanity and respect. And they were bound by their calling to public service. Those were the values I learned when I sat down at the dinner table with my parents every night.

That is what this election is about. This election is about looking our kids in the eye and proving to them that we did everything in our power to build a stronger, safer, more sustainable America for everyone.

The past four years have been the worst version of America. Ever since Donald Trump first stepped foot in the White House, we have moved away from the common ideals and values that are supposed to unify us as a country, putting leaders across the country—including me—in danger. This president has failed our country, and it is on all of us to come together to turn things around. We deserve better.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.



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