Apple puts India iPhone plant ‘on probation’ after mass food poisoning

Apple said on Wednesday it has put the Indian plant of its main supplier “on probation” after a mass food poisoning and protests over workers’ living conditions.

Some 250 women working at Foxconn’s iPhone factory in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu were treated for food poisoning this month, 159 of whom were hospitalized.

This prompted demonstrations against living conditions at company hostels that have kept the factory at Sriperumbudur near Chennai closed since December 18.

Apple said it has placed the plant “on probation” and is working with the supplier to rapidly implement “a comprehensive set of corrective actions”.

The factory employs some 17,000 people. It makes iPhones for the Indian market and for export, as well as other gadgets.

Foxconn said it was “very sorry for the issue our employees experienced and are taking immediate steps to enhance the facilities and services we provide at the remote dormitory accommodations.”

“We are also restructuring our local management team and our management systems to ensure we can achieve and maintain the high standards that are needed,” a Foxconn spokesperson said.

The Taipei-based company said employees will continue to be paid while improvements are made.

Apple has long faced criticism about the treatment of workers at its partner factories in China, particularly after a spate of suicides at the industrial park of Foxconn in Shenzhen in 2010.


Five dead, two wounded in a shooting spree in the US: police

The death toll from a shooting spree across multiple locations in the US state of Colorado, which ended when the gunman was himself shot dead, has risen to five, police said on Tuesday.

The trail of shooting began around 5:00pm on Monday and unfolded across at least four different locations in the cities of Denver and Lakewood, said police, who had initially put the death toll at four.

Two women were killed and a man was wounded in the first location in Denver, police said, with another man shot dead outside his residence.

The gunman then traveled to neighboring Lakewood, where he fatally shot another man in the Lucky 13 tattoo parlor and wounded another individual.

Working off information gathered from the previous assaults, Lakewood officers were able to identify the shooter as he moved locations.

The shooter entered a shopping center where he fatally shot a female employee, police said.

He then encountered a police officer in the shopping center who ordered him to drop his weapon. In the subsequent exchange of fire, the officer was wounded but shot dead the suspect.

The gunman was “pronounced dead on the scene” said Lakewood police spokesman John Romero. He added the police officer was “doing well” but that she would need further surgery.

The shooter’s motivations were unknown, but police said that “based on what we know, it does appear that the offender was targeting specific people.” Two weapons were recovered by police.

Gun violence is a huge problem in the United States and gun control advocates say the issue is fuelled by the prevalence of firearms as well as by relatively lax gun laws.

‘Injustice with youth’: Senators seek details of retired army officers employed by Nadra

The Senate saw a debate on Wednesday over the recruitment of armed forces personnel in the National Database Registration Authority (Nadra), with members of the opposition benches calling for specific details.

“I had questioned how many people are on deputation in Nadra and how many retired armed forces personnel are working in Nadra,” said Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) Senator Mushtaq Ahmed.

He added that the answer he had been provided was unsatisfactory and explained that he was asking about the number of retired armed forces personnel that were re-employed in Nadra.

“According to my perception and information, a great number of retired armed forces personnel have again been employed in Nadra despite unemployment increasing in Pakistan and no jobs for our large number of graduates from educational institutions.

“I think giving such jobs again with great privileges and perks to those who have reached retirement age is an injustice with the youth,” Ahmed said. Reiterating his question, he said he should be informed about the number of retired armed forces personnel employed in Nadra and the positions they were employed at.

Responding to the JI senator, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan said six people were employed on deputation in Nadra and they have not retired members of the armed forces.

The minister said a fresh question needed to be submitted for Ahmed’s concerns to be fully addressed since the current question was regarding people employed through deputation.

PML-N Senator Azam Nazeer Tarar then further shaped the question and asked for precise details of the number of retired army officers employed, their date of appointment, their responsibilities and whether they had additional qualifications meriting their employment.

“Around two months back, I read in a newspaper that closes to two dozen directors and deputy directors — all retired army officers — were [employed] in one day,” Tarar said.

The parliamentary affairs minister termed Tarar’s query a “very good question” and said it would be responded to in detail.

“No one is being given special privilege. These people are employed according to the job specification,” Khan said.

Ruckus over National Security Policy

The Senate session was also marred by sloganeering and protests by the opposition benches over the National Security Policy (NSP) not being brought to parliament.

PPP Senator Sherry Rehman said matters of “life and death” were related to national security. While commending the policy’s focus on economic security, she criticised the manner in which it was unveiled.

Rehman said it was expected that the policy would be brought to the Senate since it was the upper house of parliament which was the “biggest forum for legislation and policymaking”. She said the draft policy was presented in the National Security Committee meeting on December 6 which the opposition had boycotted and explained the reasons for doing so.

Rehman said that while the opposition leaders had been called to the meeting, the prime minister did not want to appear in that meeting and unless he took input and critique, then any such meeting would be “meaningless”.

She said input should have been taken from parliament, civil society, think tanks and other stakeholders. Rehman criticised the discrepancy between the economic focus of the NSP and what she said were “ground realities” — pointing to the government’s action such as introducing a mini-budget or taking loans.

“What NSP is this which didn’t come in front of parliament and wasn’t debated on and which parliament has no role in,” she thundered while PTI Senator Mohsin Aziz interrupted her speech.

“You want to resurrect those groups who are announcing jihad against Pakistan and the state and mainstream them and accept them? What NSP is this which is economically centred that IMF (International Monetary Fund) will run?”

The session then saw a heated exchange between, Rehman and Aziz with the former calling on the Senate chairman to control the house.

“Black laws are being brought in their tenure and they’re being given the cover of National Security Policy. This is a disgusting joke with Pakistan and the parliament,” Rehman hit out before calling on the opposition benches to stage a walkout.

Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani repeatedly called on the treasury and opposition benches to return to their seats, ultimately succeeding in convincing the lawmakers to do so after some time

Dharma Sansad row: Hate speeches in Mahatma’s land unacceptable, says Rajasthan CM Gehlot

Gehlot said it was surprising that the prime minister, home minister and the chief minister of Uttarakhand were silent on the issue and the government did not take any action against them.

Targeting the prime minister and other leaders for their ‘silence’ over alleged hate speeches at a Dharma Sansad in Haridwar, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Sunday said such acts in the land of Mahatma Gandhi cannot be tolerated.

He said the ‘language of violence’ allegedly used by the speakers is against the Indian culture and is unacceptable.

Gehlot said it was surprising that the prime minister, home minister and the chief minister of Uttarakhand were silent on the issue and the government did not take any action against them.

“The Dharma Sansad held in Uttarakhand has shaken the country. Use of the language of violence is against our culture. The prime minister and the chief minister are silent, and the home minister is keeping mum. Why is action not being taken?” Gehlot told reporters after attending the party’s training camp at Shivdaspura near here.

He said while Gandhi’s birth anniversary is observed across the globe as the International Day of Non-Violence, it is unfortunate that such hate speeches were delivered in his country.

“If we do not live with love and harmony, how will the country remain united? Whether it is Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Jain, Parsi… everyone has to live together,” he said.