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Taiwan tensions spur US and Philippines to cement military cooperation

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With Chinese extensive military deployment around Taiwan rattling the region, the Philippines is eager to strengthen defence cooperation with the US. The US, which already has troops in bases on Filipino territory, has assured the south-east Asian nation of protection in case of an armed attack.

In the Philippines on Saturday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the Philippines is an “irreplaceable ally” while the Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. reflecting on the Taiwan Strait tensions said: “…the visit of your House Speaker Nancy Pelosi coming here… I did not think it raised the intensity; it just demonstrated how the intensity of the conflict has been…”.

China’s aggressive posturing towards Taiwan, in the wake of US Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei, has shaken up the region. Countries in south-east Asia are worried as Beijing has territorial conflicts with many in the South China Sea (SCS).

In Blinken’s visit, the highest-ranking US official to visit Manila after Ferdinand Marcos Jr became President this June, the two nations reaffirmed their decades-old defence alliance. They are governed by the Mutual Defence Treaty (MDT)–an agreement signed on 30 August 1951 that states that if either of the allies faces an armed attack, the other would come to its defence.

Emphasising that the US would defend its allies in south-east Asia, Blinken told journalists: “An armed attack on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, and aircraft will invoke US mutual defense commitments under that treaty. The Philippines is an irreplaceable friend, partner, and ally to the United States.”

US and the Philippines relations had come under strain under previous President Rodrigo Duterte, who was opposed to the continued presence of US troops on Filipino soil. Duterte had tried to move closer to China at the cost of bilateral relations with the US. That scenario changed as Beijing began to assert itself in the region.

Duterte even watered down the historic arbitration case that the Philippines had won against Beijing over islands in the disputed SCS that belonged to Manila rather than Beijing. During his rule he also decided to unilaterally end the US-Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement that allowed for the deployment and rotation of American soldiers on bases in the country.

For almost a hundred years, the country has fallen back on the US for its security and defence needs. To that extent, Ferdinand Marcos Jr has restored the nation’s foreign policy to what it had been for a long time–go back to the US.

The new president seems keen to restore ties with the US not just in the fields of defence but also in areas of technology and health cooperation.

With China unleashing live-fire drills with a vengeance and a blockade of Taiwan, the public mood in the Philippines which has largely always been positive towards the US is now beginning to swing further to the US. For President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. it will be a tight rope walk – doing the balancing act between two warring powers.

Crime

UP Woman Critically Injured After Sub-Inspector Accidentally Shoots Her In Head At Aligarh Police Station

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A police officer in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh accidently shot a woman in her head from close range. A CCTV footage of the freak accident was circulated on social media on Friday.

In the video, the woman, who was accompanied by a man, was seen sitting at the police station for passport verification at the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) office of Aligarh Kotwali Nagar. A police officer handed over the pistol to sub-inspector Manoj Sharma, who proceeded to load the gun. Suddenly, a bullet was fired and hit the woman’s head. She was taken to Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College for urgent medical attention.

Law enforcement officials, including the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) and other police officers, arrived at the medical centre to inquire about the victim’s condition and oversee the ongoing treatment, according to reports.

Sub-inspector Sharma reportedly fled the scene following the accidental shooting. “We are actively pursuing all necessary legal measures, including the immediate suspension of the accused inspector. The motive behind the accidental firing is currently unknown, and our priority is ensuring the victim receives the necessary medical care,” said Kalanidhi Naithani, SSP, Aligarh.

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Crime

Indore: 22-Year-Old Delivery Boy Ends Life After Alleged Girlfriend Forces Him To Leave Parents

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Indore (Madhya Pradesh): A 22-year-old delivery man committed suicide after consuming a poisonous substance at his residence in the Banganga police station area on Thursday. The exact reason behind his extreme decision could not be established as no note was recovered from his place.

However, the family members alleged that he consumed the poisonous substance after his girlfriend forced him to leave his parents. She began living with him at his house after her family members threw her out. The police are investigating the case and recording statements from the family members.

According to the police, the deceased was identified as Sachin aka Kamal Jhala, a resident of Bhawani Nagar, who worked as a delivery boy. Sachin’s father, Govind, alleged that Sachin committed suicide after a dispute with his girlfriend, who had been living at his house for the past month.

They had attempted a court marriage, but family members filed a complaint at the police station, stating that the girl is a minor, preventing the marriage.

His girlfriend lived in the same colony, and her parents had thrown her out after the incident. She began to live at Sachin’s house from last one month. She was pressuring him to leave his parents and live elsewhere.

Sachin was tense over the dispute for a couple of days. He had a sister who is married in Rajasthan and he was the only son of his parents. The police have initiated an investigation to know the exact reason behind his decision to end life after sending the body for autopsy.

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National News

Ethics Committee Report On TMC MP Mahua Moitra Tabled In Lok Sabha; House Adjourned Till 2 PM

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New Delhi: The Ethics Committee report on TMC MP Mahua Moitra was tabled in Lok Sabha on Friday by the panel’s chairperson and BJP MP Vijay Sonkar.

Rajendra Agarwal was chairing the session in the Lower House. The opposition led by members of the Trinamool Congress raised slogans against the Central government, shouting ‘Modi Sarkar Haye Haye’.

Amid the ruckus created by the opposition, the House was adjourned till 2 PM.

The report was mentioned in the agenda of the list of business of Lok Sabha for the opening day of the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament. However, it could not be taken up.

Mahua Brings Mahabharata Reference

Earlier before the commencement of the session, Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra said that now the people will see the battle of Mahabharata.

Speaking to the media, Mahua said “Mother Durga has arrived, we will see. These people who have started snatching clothes will now see the battle of Mahabharata.”

Mahua Moitra is facing the heat of the “cash-for-query” allegations against her. The Lok Sabha Ethics Committee recently recommended her expulsion from the Lower House.

The draft report was adopted by a 6:4 majority in the panel last month.

As per the sources, the draft report on Mahua Moitra’s cash-for-questions case reveals that she visited the UAE four times from 2019 to 2023 while her login was accessed several times.”On 47 occasions, her member portal login credentials were accessed from Dubai,” sources said citing the draft report of the ethics committee.

BJP’s Nishikant Dubey Speaks On The Issue

Reacting to the oppositon demands to hold debates and discussions on the Ethics Panel report which is being tabled in Lok Sabha today, BJP MP Nishikant Dubey on Friday asked why the opposition has already decided on what action the Lok Sabha Speaker would take against TMC Mahua Moitra in the alleged “cash-for-query” case.

“Whether it will be discussed or not, who will speak on it – all of this will be decided by the Speaker. That is what the rules say. So how will the Speaker act on this issue, why are we anticipating that? The Constitution is clear on this issue. Whatever will happen in the House is the prerogative of the Speaker. If the party nominates my name on the issue and the Speaker goes against this, then I won’t be able to speak. Let it be done first (tabling of report), I will answer all the questions after that,” Nishikant Dubey told reporters.

Ethics Committee On Moitra’s Expulsion

The Ethics Committee, which investigated the allegations made by BJP MP Nishikant Dubey, adopted its 500-page report on November 9 recommending Moitra’s expulsion from the 17th Lok Sabha in view of her “highly objectionable, unethical, heinous and criminal conduct.”

Moitra had appeared before the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee on November 2 over the cash-for-query allegations against her. Along with opposition members of the panel, she had “walked out” of the meeting. The opposition members who were part of the Ethics Committee raised questions over the line of questioning and alleged that “personal questions” were posed to the Trinamool Congress MP.

Earlier on November 10, Trinamool Lok Sabha MP Mahua Moitra alleged that the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee which was probing her role in the ‘Cash for Query’ case was functioning like a ‘Kangaroo’ court.

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