A former director of the technology giant Cisco Systems, Prithviraj R Bhikha, has been charged in a $9.3 million fraud using shell companies, according to federal prosecutor David L Anderson. He was arrested at the San Francisco International Airport on March 1. Bhikha has been charged with wire fraud, Anderson announced after the former director was produced in a federal court in San Francisco following his arrest. He was released on a $3 million bail. According to the FBI, Bhika, who was a director in the global supply unit of Cisco until mid-2017, set up shell companies abroad to negotiate with third-party vendors on behalf of Cisco and he directed payments to those shell companies.
Padma Lakshmi appointed as UNDP Goodwill Ambassador
In its fight against inequality and discrimination, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has appointed Indian-American television personality and food expert Padma Lakshmi as its Goodwill Ambassador. In its new role, the award-winning author will mobilise support for the Sustainable Development Goals with a focus on fighting inequality, discrimination and empowering the disenfranchised. “As we celebrate International Women’s Day let’s remember that women and girls face some of the worst discrimination and hardships in the world,” Lakshmi said. She said her main focus would be to shine a spotlight on the fact that inequality can affect people in rich and poor countries alike.
Hindu woman chairs Pak Senate session
Krishna Kumari Kohli aka Kishoo Bai, Pakistan’s first female senator from the Hindu Dalit community, chaired the session of the upper House of Parliament on occasion of International Women’s Day. Krishna, 40, was elected as senator in March 2018 after spending many years working for the rights of bonded labourers in Muslim-majority Pakistan. She is the first Thari Hindu woman to be elected to the Pakistan senate. She belongs to the Kohli community from Dhana Gam in Nagarparkar area of Sindh province where a sizeable number of Hindus live. “I consider myself very fortunate today to be sitting on this seat...,” she said before starting the session.
Indian-origin dentist found murdered in Australia
A 32-year-old dentist of Indian origin, whose family hails from Telangana, was found dead with multiple stab wounds in Sydney, Australia, days after she went missing from a busy area. Police investigations into the death of Preethi Reddy, whose body was found in a suitcase in the boot of a car in the Kingsford area of Sydney, have zeroed in on a 34-year-old man, who was killed in a head-on collision on the New England Highway. Cops said the man, Harshwardhan Narde, was Preethi’s former boyfriend and a fellow dentist. They added that they had spoken to Narde as part of their investigation after they were alerted by Preethi’s family about her disappearance.
US deports Indian pilot over child pornography
An Indian pilot was handcuffed and deplaned from the aircraft by US authorities soon after his flight from Delhi landed in San Francisco airport over charges of downloading child pornography. The Mumbai-based pilot is employed as a first officer with an Indian carrier and frequently operates flights to US. Under current regulations, air carriers operating US-bound flights must transmit to the US Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, the passenger manifest and crew details no later than 15 minutes after the departure of the flight. “The FBI agents must have waited for him to re-enter the US. He was arrested, his passport seized, his US visa cancelled. He was then put back on a flight to Delhi and deported from the US,” the source said adding that the said pilot would not be able to visit the US again.
116-year-old Japanese woman honoured
The Guinness Book of World Records has recognised Kane Tanaka, a 116-year-old Japanese woman, as the world's oldest living person. She was honoured in a ceremony at the nursing home where she lives in Fukuoka, in southwest Japan. Her family and the mayor were present to celebrate. Tanaka was born 2 January, 1903, the seventh among eight children. She married Hideo Tanaka in 1922, and they had four children and adopted another child. She is usually up by 6 am and enjoys studying mathematics. The previous oldest living person was another Japanese woman, Chiyo Miyako, who died in July at age 117.
China hikes defence budget by 7.5% to $177.6 bn
China announced a 7.5% increase in its defence budget for this year, hiking it to a whopping $177.61 billion, over three times that of India. The 2019 defence budget will be 1.19 trillion yuan, according to a draft budget report submitted at the National People’s Congress (NPC). The increase this year is lower than that of last year’s 8.1% which amounted to $175 billion. China, which increased its defence budget in double digits till 2015, has been lowering it to single digit hikes since 2016. China’s budgeted defence spending growth rate stood at 7.6% in 2016, 7% in 2017 and 8.1% in 2018. With this year’s hike, China’s defence spending moved closer to the $200 billion mark, making it the highest spender on defence after the United States.
Thai court dissolves party over Princess' PM bid
Thailand's constitutional court ordered the dissolution of an opposition party that nominated the King's elder sister as its prime-ministerial candidate for the March 24 general election. The court ordered the dissolution of the Thai Raksa Chart party and banned the members of the party's executive committee from taking part in politics for 10 years. Thai Raksa Chart announced Princess Ubolratana Mahidol's candidacy on February 8, but hours later her brother King Maha Vajiralongkorn issued a royal communique calling his sister's nomination "highly inappropriate," effectively ending her candidacy. Members of Thailand's royal family have traditionally refrained from participating in politics.
Man’s dying wish fulfilled with call from Trump
A terminally ill Connecticut man who’s a big supporter of President Trump got a last wish fulfilled with a call from the White House. Jay Barrett of West Haven received a call from Trump. “Mr President, through thick and thin, you know there’s been a lot of thick, and there’s been a lot of thins, I support you,” Barrett said. Trump told Barrett he’s a “champ,” and that a personal letter is coming his way. “You’re my kind of man, Jay... I’m very proud of you,” Trump said. “I’ll talk to you again, Jay, OK? You keep that fight going. We both fight.”