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George Orwell’s birthplace in India to become Gandhi memorial

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The long-neglected birthplace of British novelist George Orwell in eastern India is to be developed into a memorial — just not one dedicated to the writer, officials said Monday.

Instead, the land attached to Orwell’s house in Bihar’s Motihari city will be developed in memory of independence hero Mahatma Gandhi, said local officials who laid a foundation stone at the site over the weekend.

The U-turn caused consternation among fans of the writer of such novels as Animal Farm and 1984, who said they could not understand the decision.

“It is strange to develop it as a Gandhi memorial instead of an Orwell memorial,” Deo Priya Mukherjee, who heads an Orwell commemorative committee in the state, told AFP.

Orwell, born as Eric Arthur Blair on June 25, 1903, lived in Motihari for a year as a child before leaving for England in 1904 with his mother and sister.

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His father, Richard W. Blair, worked for the Indian Civil Service during the time of British rule over the subcontinent.

For years, the family’s simple white colonial bungalow has been left to decay.

It was damaged in an earthquake in 1934 and has since served as an occasional home to stray animals, and more recently Orwell’s statue at the site of the house was vandalised.

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In 2009, the state government announced a makeover for the site but nothing was done.

Then at the weekend, Prakash Asthana, chairman of the local municipal council, announced a park would be developed at the site to commemorate Gandhi.

Gandhi loyalists said they were also surprised by the move.

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Razi Ahmad, secretary of a museum housing Gandhi memorabilia in Patna, said using the birthplace of Orwell to honour Gandhi would be contrary to the ideals of the Indian freedom fighter.

“Land which has been long associated with the birthplace of George Orwell should not be disturbed to develop a park in memory of Gandhi,” he told AFP.

Orwell wrote admiringly of Gandhi in his 1949 essay “Reflections on Gandhi” but also criticised his famously spartan lifestyle.

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“No doubt alcohol, tobacco and so forth are things that a saint must avoid, but sainthood is also a thing that human beings must avoid,” Orwell wrote.


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Trump: Iran claim to break up CIA network ‘totally false’

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US President Donald Trump on Monday denied Iran's claim that it dismantled a CIA spy ring and arrested 17 suspects with alleged links to the US intelligence agency.

"The report of Iran capturing CIA spies is totally false. Zero truth," Trump tweeted.

"Just more lies and propaganda (like their shot down drone) put out by a Religious Regime that is Badly Failing and has no idea what to do."

"Their Economy is dead, and will get much worse. Iran is a total mess!" Trump added.

Earlier Monday a top Iranian counter-intelligence official told local reporters that the 17 suspects were all Iranians working in "sensitive centers" and the private sector who had acted independently of each other.

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Trump’s Commerce Dept plagued by low morale and ‘disarray’ as chief Wilbur Ross falls asleep in meetings: report

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For months, there has been speculation in Washington, D.C. that Wilbur Ross, secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce for the Trump Administration, is on his way out. Reports that Ross falls asleep in meetings don’t exactly instill confidence in his leadership. And Politico’s Daniel Lippman, in a troubling report, describes the Commerce Department as being in a state of chaos and disorganization.

Lippman reports that according to his sources, the 81-year-old Ross “spends much of his time at the White House” in order to “retain President Donald Trump’s favor.” And the Commerce Department is suffering, Lippman observes, because of Ross’ “penchant for managing upward at the expense of his staff.”

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When radioactive wastes aren’t radioactive wastes

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The U.S. Department of Energy wants to redefine what constitutes high-level radioactive waste, cutting corners on the disposal of some of the most dangerous and long-lasting waste byproduct on earth—reprocessed spent fuel from the nuclear defense program.

The agency announced in October 2018 plans for its reinterpretation of high-level radioactive waste (HLW), as defined in the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA) of 1982, with plans to classify waste by its hazard level and not its origin. By using the idea of a reinterpretation of a definition, the DOE may be able to circumvent Congressional oversight. And in its regulatory filing, the DOE, citing the NWPA and Atomic Energy Act of 1954, said it has the authority to “interpret” what materials are classified as high-level waste based on their radiological characteristics. That is not quite true, as Congress specifically defined high-level radioactive waste in the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, and any reinterpretation of that definition should trigger a Congressional response.

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