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US President signs budget bill into law to prevent government shutdown

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US President signs budget bill into law to prevent government shutdown

December 30, 2013

US President Barack Obama has inked a two-party federal budget bill, preventing the risk of a government shutdown for two years in the country.

The legislation was passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives after a prolonged stand-off between the Democrats and the Republicans. The bill had been drafted by a cross-party budget panel set up after October’s 16-day government shutdown.

The Defence Bill, among others, provides $527 billion in base defence spending and $80 billion for the war in Afghanistan, in addition to a crackdown on assault* in military and relaxes restrictions on transferring detainees from the federal prison at Guantanamo Bay.

Why did the US government shutdown happen?

The US Congress failed to pass the government budget due to disagreement between the Republicans, who have majority in the lower house – the House of Representatives – and the Democrats, who control the upper house, the Senate.

Since President Barack Obama’s election, the parties have never come to a resolution on a US budget that extends further than a few months. They’ve just negotiated around the margins and come up with short-term fixes.

Now, the Republicans are using budget deadlines to gain political leverage over contentious policies.

This time the issue was Mr. Obama’s healthcare reform programme- the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) which continues to be very controversial for a range of reasons. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives though approved budgets but eliminated funding of this programme or wanted it delayed by one year. The Senate rejected these demands. It led to a deadlock situation and no budget bill could be agreed by both houses, resulting into the shut down.

China offers its Beidou Navigation System free of cost to neighbours

December 30, 2013

In a strategic move, China is ready to offer its neighbouring nations use of its indigenously developed Beidou Satellite Navigation System (BDS) free of charge. The offer has generated interest from a number of nations includingPakistanSri LankaBangladesh and Thailand.

As per the Chinese government, the country wants to expand the use of the BDS, which already has 16 satellites operating for the Asia-Pacific and is being promoted as an alternative to the US’ Global Positioning System (GPS). China intends to offer BDS to nations in the Asia-Pacific region, and particularly in South and Southeast Asia, where the satellites can provide the highest accuracy.

Countries interested in Beidou Navigation System:

China has already reached agreement with Pakistan and Thailand on use of the Beidou network. It is in talks with Sri Lanka, for which it has already launched a satellite, and Bangladesh, over cooperation on satellite use. In early2014, Thailand will become the first country to set up a satellite station based on Beidou, with both nations signing a $ 319 million deal.
What is Beidou Satellite Navigation System (BDS)?

Beidou Satellite Navigation System (BDS) is a Chinese satellite navigation system. It consists of two separate satellite constellations:

Beidou-1: A limited test system that has been operating since 2000

Beidou-2 : A full-scale global navigation system which is also known asCOMPASS and is currently under construction as of January 2013 . Beidou-2 will have 35 satellites in its network.
Objective of Beidou Satellite Navigation System (BDS):

Initially, when the BDS was launched in 2011, it was serving only the government and military. However, over the past year the navigation system is being widely used for civilian purposes domestically. In China, around 80% of passenger buses and trucks use the BDS.  Now China intends to expand its satellite navigation services to Asia-Pacific and to South and South-East Asia regions.

Legal wing of CBI brought under agency director

December 29, 2013

In a bid to provide more autonomy to CBI, government has brought the agency’s directorate of prosecution or the legal wing, which used to report to Law Ministry, under the command of the CBI director, making his orders final in probes.

With this change, the agency director will not only oversee the promotions and postings but also write the Annual Confidential Reports (ACRs), as done earlier by law ministry.

What is the responsibility of Directorate of Prosecution (DoP) in CBI?

The DoP in CBI is responsible for conducting and supervising cases pending trial, appeal and revision in courts. It oversees and monitors the conduct of prosecution in courts and gives advice to CBI officers on all legal matters of general or specific importance and on issues coming up during probe or trial.

The DoP was the chief functionary of CBI’s prosecution wing and was vested with powers of direction and control over prosecuting officers. Those powers have now been transferred to the CBI director.

How would placing the legal wing of CBI under the command of CBI director change things?

It was observed that in a number of cases, the investigation by the CBI was overturned by the DoP; but under the new structure the CBI director will have the authority to take a final view on probes and, subsequently, the charge sheets.

The Lokpal Bill, which has been passed by both Houses of Parliament, also provides for the DoP chaired by the DoP to be placed under the CBI director. As per the Lokpal Bill, the DoP will be appointed in consultation with the Lokpal and CVC.

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