Indian-origin donors in UK cash-for-honours row
London, 16 June: Two Indian-origin donors to Britain’s Liberal Democrat party have become embroiled in a cash-for-honours controversy. Rumi Verjee, a multi-millionaire who brought the Domino’s pizza chain to Britain, and Sudhir Choudhrie, who heads a major business empire, have donated thousands to the UK’s coalition partner over the years and have now been named on the party’s list of those in line to receive honours. According to a Sunday Times report, Verjee, a Ugandan-born Indian, has given 770,000 pounds to the party since May 2010 and is now top of a list of seven names compiled by the Lib Dems to be awarded a peerage in the House of Lords within weeks. pti
Saudi slashes number of Hajj pilgrims
Riyadh, 16 June: Saudi Arabia has slashed the number of Hajj pilgrims, including from India, by 20 per cent this year, citing massive ongoing construction work aimed at expanding grand Mecca mosque as a reason behind the decision. “The decision to reduce the numbers of pilgrims at home by 50 per cent and abroad by 20 per cent is exceptional and temporary until the completion of the expansionist projects at the Holy Sites,” Saudi Minister of Hajj Bandar bin Mohammed Hajjar was today quoted as saying by Saudi news agency SPA. pti
Kuwait court approves electoral law
Kuwait City, 16 June: Kuwait’s top court today scrapped last December’s parliamentary election, which was boycotted by the Opposition, but approved the controversial electoral law that sparked the boycott. The constitutional court, whose rulings are final, dissolved the current loyalist-dominated parliament and ordered a fresh election, in the verdict read out by presiding judge Yousef al-Mutawah. It was the second time in a year that the court had ordered a dissolution of parliament. afp
Biker culture comes to Vatican
Vatican City, 16 June: Biker culture has come to the Vatican. Pope Francis today blessed thousands of Harley Davidsons and their riders as the American motorcycle manufacturer celebrated its 110th anniversary with a loud parade and plenty of leather. Thundering Harley engines nearly drowned out the recitation of the “Our Father” prayer in Latin that accompanied Pope Francis as he greeted the crowd before Mass. ap
Plane carrying George W Bush diverted
Washington, 16 June: A plane carrying former President George W Bush was diverted to Louisville after the pilot reported the smell of smoke, media reports said today. The Gulfstream IV aircraft was travelling from Philadelphia International airport to Dallas Love Field airport when the pilot reported the smell of smoke in the cockpit last night, spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration, Holly Baker said. She said the plane landed safely in Louisville, Kentucky, CNN reported. pti