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Federal government sues Ferguson, Missouri

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(DIYA TV) — The federal government sued Ferguson on Wednesday, one day after the city council voted to revise an agreement aimed at improving the way police and courts treat poor people and minorities in the St. Louis suburb.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Indian-American Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta made the announcement, saying Ferguson’s decision to reject the deal offered by the Department of Justice left them no choice but to file a civil-rights lawsuit.

“The residents of Ferguson have waited nearly a year for the city to adopt an agreement that would protect their rights and keep them safe.… They have waited decades for justice. They should not be forced to wait any longer,” Lynch said during the D.C. news conference, held jointly between her and Gupta.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch pauses as she speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington about Ferguson, Missouri. The federal government sued Ferguson on Wednesday, one day after the city council voted to revise an agreement aimed at improving the way police and courts treat poor people and minorities in the St. Louis suburb. (Carolyn Kaster / AP)

Attorney General Loretta Lynch pauses as she speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington about Ferguson, Missouri. The federal government sued Ferguson on Wednesday, one day after the city council voted to revise an agreement aimed at improving the way police and courts treat poor people and minorities in the St. Louis suburb. (Carolyn Kaster / AP)

In the complaint, the Justice Department accuses Ferguson of routinely violating residents’ rights and misusing law enforcement to generate revenue for the city — something which the the government has alleged was “ongoing and pervasive.” The city’s leaders “had a real opportunity here to step forward, and they’ve chosen to step backward,” Lynch said.

The scrutiny Ferguson has face from the Justice Department began with the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Black and unarmed, Brown was shot by officer Darren Wilson 18 months ago. Wilson dodged prosecution from Justice and a grand jury indictment before his ultimate resigning in Nov. 2014. A scathing Justice Department report has since followed, critical of the Ferguson police and an alleged profit-driven municipal court system. Following months of negotiations, an agreement between the federal agency and Ferguson was announced in January.

Recent audits of Ferguson’s financials determined the agreement between the city and Justice would cost the city’s struggling budget nearly $4 million in the first year alone — the city council voted 6-0 to accept the deal, but with seven amendments attached. Just hours before Lynch and Gupta announced the lawsuit, Ferguson city leaders made clear their intentions to sit down with Justice and renegotiate the agreement.

“We ask that if they (the Justice Department) feel there needs to be some additional changes to the agreement, we sit down and talk,” Ferguson mayor James Knowles III said.

In this Feb. 2, 2016 file photo, Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III speaks during a city council meeting in Ferguson, Mo. As Ferguson leaders consider a lawsuit filed against the city by the U.S. Department of Justice, the town's effort at an amended agreement with DOJ acknowledged that losing the police department is a possibility. (Jeff Roberson / AP)

In this Feb. 2, 2016 file photo, Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III speaks during a city council meeting in Ferguson, Mo. As Ferguson leaders consider a lawsuit filed against the city by the U.S. Department of Justice, the town’s effort at an amended agreement with DOJ acknowledged that losing the police department is a possibility. (Jeff Roberson / AP)

He added that the seven amendments were formulated after the analysis of the Justice Department deal revealed how elaborate the economic effect would be — so expensive in fact, that it could lead to the dissolution of the city, he said. The analysis suggested that the first-year cost of the agreement would be $2.2 million to $3.7 million, with second- and third-year costs between $1.8 million and $3 million in each year.

Ferguson currently operates with a $14.5 million budget, and currently carries a $2.8 million deficit. Even if voters approve the tax hikes they are being asked to in April, the city would still fall short of the necessary finances.

That invitation appeared as if it would go unnoticed — Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said in a statement that the department would take “the necessary legal actions” to guarantee Ferguson’s police and court practices comply with the Constitution and federal laws.

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Trump impeachment inquiry hearings begin

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Trump Impeachment inquiry

WASHINGTON (Diya TV)  — On the first day of the public Trump impeachment inquiry hearings over the President’s dealings in Ukraine, Bill Taylor, the acting US ambassador to Ukraine, testified one of his aides heard from EU ambassador Gordon Sondland that the President was focused on triggering investigations into Joe Biden and his son. The aide, David Holmes, reportedly also overheard a conversation between Trump and Sondland, where they discussed ‘the investigations.’ Holmes will appear for a closed-door deposition with impeachment investigators Friday. Republican allies of Trump painted the testimony of Taylor and George Kent as hearsay.

More than 100 Indian CEOs, political leaders and even Bollywood stars like Deepika Padukone will head Davos in January for the 50th anniversary of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting to discuss making ‘cohesive and sustainable world.’ President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin are also expected to be there.

The Food and Drug Administration granted Shreis Scalene Sciences (Shreis), an American company, a ‘Breakthrough Device Designation’ for the CYTOTRON, a cancer treatment, developed in India, by scientist Dr. Rajah Vijay Kumar in Bengaluru.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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India, Pakistan trade quips at UNESCO

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UNESCO

PARIS (Diya TV)  — At UNESCO’s general conference in Paris, both Pakistan and India traded quips over Kashmir. Pakistan’s Minister of Education and newly elected President of UNESCO’s Education Commission Shafqat Mehmood efforted to convince UNESCO leadership to confront India over their recent constitutional change affecting Jammu and Kashmir, claiming 1.5 million Kashmiri students who have not been able to attend schools since August 5th. In response, India’s UNESCO delegate Ananya Agarwal countered that “Pakistan is the world’s largest producer and exporter” of terrorism, calling Pakistan’s charges “fabricated falsehoods.”

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Notable executives from the worlds of private investing, industry and nonprofits came together to talk about impact investing at Akshaya Patra’s TAP Forum in the Bay Area. The goal is to take the diasporas success to build a foundation for the next generation.

The Indian women’s hockey team will get the chance to go for the gold in Tokyo, qualifying for the 2020 Olympics after beating team USA in a qualifying match.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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House holds hearing on human right violations in Jammu & Kashmir

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Jammu

WASHINGTON (Diya TV)  — The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, a bipartisan caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives, examined the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir. Seattle Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal was among those on hand hearing testimony from experts offering widely different narratives. The commission plans to take these perspectives into account before offering recommendations for action by Congress.

In a line of questioning during the impeachment inquiry lauded by many political analysts, Democratic Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi focused on the timeline of the Ukraine affair, confirming through witness testimony that once Congress began investigating quid pro quo by the Trump administration, security funds were released to Ukraine two days later.

American tech firms are increasingly sponsoring green cards, or permanent US residency, for their employees from India and elsewhere in an effort to hold on to their skilled talent at a time when work visa extensions have become unpredictable.

India will fund at least 250 defense startups over the next five years as it seeks new technologies for their armed forces. The plan is obtain at least 50 ‘tangible innovations’ by the startups for military use.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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