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  1. Today
  2. AML leader Sheikh Rashid ISLAMABAD: Awami Muslim League (AML) leader Sheikh Rashid hailed the accountability court?s indictment of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam and son-in-law MNA Capt (retd) Safdar on Thursday. Speaking to Geo News following the indictment of the three in the Avenfield properties case, Rashid said such verdicts are witnessed when the Constitution and law are alive. He said he never doubted the National Accountability Bureau?s (NAB) proceedings in the case. ?Today, the Constitution and law have been implemented,? he said, adding, ?I have never criticised the courts. I did not even criticise the court which handed out punishment to me.? Rashid pointed out that no country in the world had said Nawaz Sharif was unfairly treated. Former PM Nawaz, daughter and son-in-law indicted The Sharif family is facing three corruption references filed by NAB in light of the Supreme Court's verdict in the Panama Papers case The accountability court hearing corruption cases against the Sharif family indicted Nawaz Sharif, Maryam and Safdar after dismissing pleas of the three to suspend proceedings and halt their indictment. Nawaz, through his representative, Maryam and Safdar rejected the charges by pleading 'not guilty'.
  3. LONDON: A new exhibition celebrating the 20th anniversary of the first Harry Potter book?s publication is offering ?muggles? with an interest in magic the chance to view rare memorabilia, combined with historic artifacts referenced in the popular series. ?Harry Potter: A History of Magic,? held in the British Library in London, features Potter memorabilia including author J.K. Rowling?s first annotated sketch of Hogwarts school, as well as her handwritten list of its teachers and subjects. As well as the items associated with Rowling and the book series, the exhibition also features historic artifacts from the library?s collection, including alchemists? scrolls from the 1500s and Chinese oracle bones from the 12th century. ?Our exhibition explores the history, mythology and folklore behind the Harry Potter stories,? Julian Harrison, the exhibition?s lead curator, told Reuters. ?We investigate broomsticks and cauldrons and unicorns and dragons. We?ve organized the exhibition around some of the subjects that students would study at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, from potions to charms to astronomy and divination.? The seven Harry Potter books have been translated into 68 languages and have sold more than 400 million copies worldwide, Rowling?s publishers say. The final book in the series was published in 2007, but the series spawned a series of hit films, a US theme park and a hit stage play that have kept the franchise in the public eye. Rowling herself appears to have enjoyed the blend of her fictional world with the library?s collection. ?Encountering objects for real that have in some shape or form figured in my books has been quite wonderful,? she said in a statement. The exhibition runs from October 20 until February 28 2018.
  4. File photo/ Reuters KANDAHAR: Militants carried out suicide bombing attack on an Afghan National Army base in Maiwand district in Kandahar late on Wednesday night, killing at least 43 military personnel, said Afghan media reports. Of 60 soldiers manning the base in the southern province of Kandahar, 43 were killed, nine were wounded and six were missing after Taliban militants stormed the base in the middle of the night, the ministry said in a statement. The militants sought entry into the base through explosive-laden Humvee vehicles and detonated them at the gate. Following the suicide blast, the other militants entered into the military base and opened fire. The security forces fired in retaliation, while foreign troops carried out aerial firing to neutralise the enemy, killing at least 10 militants. The attack was confirmed by Gen. Abdul Raziq, provincial police chief of Kandahar. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
  5. NEW YORK: Thirty years ago, before heading to work at the New York Stock Exchange, Peter Kenny left his home in lower Manhattan and made a detour to the nearby Our Lady of Victory church to pray to St. Jude, the Roman Catholic patron saint of desperate and lost causes. The reason was the stock market crash known as ?Black Monday? on October 19, 1987. ?Blessed mother get me through this,? he prayed. Kenny, now senior market strategist at Global Markets Advisory Group in New York, was a newly minted member of the New York Stock Exchange, having joined the exchange in February that year. He was stunned by the events that unfolded the previous day, the worst trading day in US history. ?I don?t think anyone was prepared for what actually transpired in the overseas markets, which led to the bloodbath on Monday,? said Kenny. When it was over, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI had lost 22.6 percent in one day, equivalent to a drop of about 5,200 points in the index today. The benchmark US S&P 500 index .SPX plunged 20.5 percent on Black Monday, equal to a drop of over 520 points today, and the Nasdaq dropped 11.4 percent, comparable to a drop of about 750 points. In 1987 US stock prices had climbed steadily all year, as they have in 2017, with each of the three major US indexes hitting record highs in late August. But September turned into a difficult month, with each index falling more than 2.0 percent, though not by enough to raise alarm bells among investors. But as the calendar flipped to October, the selling in US equity markets intensified. The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI and S&P 500 .SPX fell more than 9.0 percent in the week before Black Monday. On the morning of Monday, October 19, 1987, Art Hogan, then a floor broker at the Boston Stock Exchange, expected a possible rebound for stock prices. Nothing had prepared him for what was to unfold. ?It was clear in that first hour... this was going to be as bad as we?ve seen in our lifetimes,? said Hogan, now chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities in New York. Many describe the events of Black Monday as the first instance of computer trading gone haywire, caused by the use of portfolio insurance, a hedging strategy against market declines that involves selling short in stock index futures. The prior week?s fall in US stocks led to selling by investors in Asian markets to limit losses. Those losses then signaled investors in Europe to sell, which caused increased selling by the time US markets were to open on Black Monday. ?It was like nobody wanted to question the computer,? said Ken Polcari, director of the NYSE floor division at O?Neil Securities in New York, who was a 26-year-old in his second year as a member of the NYSE. ?Then what happens is it feeds on itself because as the prices got worse the risk management software kept spitting out a new message - You need to sell more,? said Polcari. Portfolio insurance, the short selling of stock index futures to protect against a decline in value, caused computerized program trading to issue sell orders as a safeguard against more losses. Instead, losses intensified, causing even more sell orders in a feedback loop. With computer trading in its infancy, the floor of the NYSE was filled with more members than today, with trades executed by hand on paper. Thousands of traders scrambled to handle the tidal wave of selling, with volumes so extreme prices were delayed by hours, further complicating the process. ?The opening was 90 minutes (delayed), so you knew there was a lot of influx of orders, the futures (contracts) were down, everything was down, so we knew we were in for a rough ride,? said Peter Costa, president at Empire Executions Inc in New York, who has been working on the trading floor since 1981. The widespread selling and delay in reporting prices also hit the stock options market, said Gordon Charlop, a managing director at Rosenblatt Securities in New York who was trading options on the American Exchange at the time of the crash. ?The options market slowed down to a crawl because nobody could really figure out how to derive options prices from equities because we weren?t sure what the equity prices were,? said Charlop. Of the 30 companies whose stocks are in the Dow today, slightly less than half were in the index at the time. American Express (AXP.N) lost 26.2 percent on Black Monday, Procter & Gamble (PG.N) plunged 27.8 percent, and Exxon Mobil (XOM.N) tumbled 23.4 percent. ?The price movements in the stocks were not like anything I had ever seen prior to that day, or since that day, in fact,? said Ted Weisberg, floor trader with Seaport Securities in New York, who has been a member of the exchange since 1969. ?It was in fact the scariest day, the most emotional day, except when we came back to work after September 11, that I have ever spent on the trading floor.?
  6. This photograph taken on October 8, 2017 shows bus driver Meher Muhammad Khalil, who drove the Sri Lankan cricket team to safety when it came under a gun and grenade attack by militants in March 2009, preparing to start his shift at a bus terminal in Lahore/AFP LAHORE: Driver Meher Muhammad Khalil became a hero when militants attacked the Sri Lankan cricket team bus on a busy street in Lahore in 2009, holding his nerve under gunfire to whisk them to safety. Eight years later he is ready to welcome Sri Lanka back for Pakistan´s first cricket match against a top international team since that terrible day. The bus ambush, in which eight people were killed and eight wounded, including seven Sri Lankan players, drove cricket and most other international sports from Pakistan for years. But security has now improved, and Sri Lanka agreed Monday to go ahead with its visit to Pakistan next week for a T20 match in Lahore, despite fears expressed by some players. Khalil says the hype surrounding Sri Lanka´s return has sharpened his memories of the assault on the morning of March 3, 2009 as he drove the team to Gaddafi Stadium. Two elite police vehicles were in front of the bus as he eased on to Liberty roundabout in the heart of Lahore when Pakistani Taliban militants opened fire, spraying bullets along the convoy. Members of the media gathered around the bus, which carried the Sri Lankan cricket team, parked outside the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore/REUTERS "First I thought it was fireworks for our guest team," he told AFP, standing in the street where the ambush began. "Then a man came in front of me (and) fired straight at me with a Kalashnikov... I realised, it´s not fireworks." The militants shot the drivers first, he said, killing the two in the lead vehicles on the spot. Khalil saw their vehicles skid one to the left and one to the right, opening a path down the centre -- and then he hit the accelerator. "They fired intensely on the vehicle, and also lobbed a hand grenade and fired a rocket," he said, but both missed. Fled the country He does not remember hitting the brakes, he said, until he had driven the bus right inside Gaddafi Stadium. A security cordon was thrown up and he and the players stayed there until a military helicopter airlifted them right out from its grassy pitch. In the harrowing aftermath, Khalil was awarded medals and given cash prizes from grateful Pakistani and Sri Lankan officials. But Pakistan´s security continued to deteriorate, and the Taliban kept gaining ground. Khalil´s newfound VIP status just made him a target, he feared, and by the end of the year he had fled the country, first to Morocco then to South Africa. By 2013, however, he had returned to Pakistan, and once more drives a bus in Lahore. Meher Muhammad Khalil/AFP The country´s fortunes, meanwhile, have improved, with a dramatic uptick in security in recent years. The growing confidence led to a visit by minnows Zimbabwe in 2015 -- a small step in cricket terms, but as the national anthem rang out in Gaddafi Stadium for the first time since 2009, a giant leap for home fans. It was followed by the final this March for the hugely popular Pakistan Super League, where fans held up banners proclaiming "Pakistan wins today". And last month a World XI side led by Faf du Plessis visited for three T20 matches, with the foreign players hailing the series as "more than cricket". International Cricket Council (ICC) officials acknowledged that Pakistan had made "tremendous strides", though there was still a long way to go. The T20 finale comes at the end of a series otherwise played in the United Arab Emirates, where Pakistan have held their "home" internationals since the ambush. ´You are my hero´ Sri Lanka´s return, officials hope, will represent another turning point. "See what a brave nation they are," Khalil said, his eyes glittering. "That this incident happened to them and still that team is coming to play in our country. "The whole of Pakistan should give them protocol (respect) and welcome them very warmly." Sri Lankan officials have said they agreed to the game after assessments by Sri Lankan and Pakistan authorities, independent security experts and the ICC. The country´s cricket chief, Thilanga Sumathipala, has previously appealed for an end to Pakistan´s isolation and urged other teams to come to play. Meher Muhammad Khalil/AFP Khalil, however, urged caution, calling for "foolproof security" for all foreign players in Pakistan. The Sri Lankan players had been nervous the night before the ambush, he said, describing a conversation with batsman Kumar Sangakkara that evening. "Sangakkara asked me: ´Mr. Muhammad, are we people safe in Pakistan?´" "I told him nothing will happen, and if, God forbid, something happens then thousands of people like me will sacrifice our lives for you." The next day, after their worst fears came true with Sangakkara among the wounded, he visited the Sri Lankan player in hospital. "He told me, ´You are a great man... You are my hero,´" Khalil said.
  7. Ambassador Aizaz Chaudhry met Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and briefed her on bilateral relations and Pakistan's successes in war against terrorism, on October 18, 2017 WASHINGTON, DC: Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States, Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry met with Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) at the Capitol Hill, where he apprised the senator, who is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, on Pakistan?s successes in the war against terrorism, besides briefing her on Pakistan?s perspective on the situation in South Asia, including Afghanistan. Ambassador Chaudhry reiterated the importance of Pakistan and the United States working together towards achieving their common strategic and regional objectives, a press release from the Pakistan embassy in Washington said. The Ambassador said Pakistan sees peace and stability in Afghanistan as being vital to its own national interests. Pakistan believes this would only be possible through a political process owned and led by Afghans themselves. Pakistan has turned the corner in the fight against terrorism through comprehensive and indiscriminate operations against militants, he said, as a result of which Pakistan?s border regions have been cleared of all terrorist groups. He said Pakistan is ready to work with Afghanistan to manage the two countries? border more vigilantly and prevent any illegal movement. Senator Warren thanked Ambassador Chaudhry for his briefing and appreciated Pakistan?s efforts and sacrifices in the war against terrorism.
  8. MULTAN: The Water and Sanitation Agency?s (WASA) plastic pipes caught fire in Multan?s Chungi No. 9 area on Thursday. Shortly after the blaze intensified, rescue teams reached the site of incident. According to rescue sources, the plastic pipes caught fire when a garbage dump was burned. Due to the intensity of the blaze, flow of traffic was halted to save the public from any untoward incident, the traffic police said.
  9. Women gather to protest against Quebec's proposed Charter of Values in Montreal, September 14, 2013/REUTERS QUEBEC CITY: Quebec will ban face coverings for people giving or receiving provincial government services under a law passed on Wednesday that rights groups have criticized as marginalizing Muslim women in the mainly French-speaking Canadian province. While the law, which takes effect by July 1, 2018, does not specify which face coverings are prohibited, the debate has largely focused on the niqab worn by some Muslim women, which covers everything but the eyes. People affected by the law would include public-sector employees such as teachers, police officers, hospital and daycare workers. Like France, which passed a ban on veils, crosses and other religious symbols in schools in 2004, Quebec has struggled to reconcile its secular identity with a growing Muslim population, many of them North African emigrants. ?We are just saying that for reasons linked to communication, identification and safety, public services should be given and received with an open face,? Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard told reporters in the province?s National Assembly. ?We are in a free and democratic society. You speak to me, I should see your face, and you should see mine. It?s as simple as that,? he said. The National Council of Canadian Muslims said it was deeply concerned by the law?s passage and was looking at its legal options. ?This legislation is an unjustified infringement of religious freedoms,? said executive director Ihsaan Gardee. The law allows for exemptions under certain circumstances, although it did not provide details. Regulations setting out how the new law will be enforced are yet to come. Asked in the federal parliament whether he would challenge the law, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who represents a Montreal district, said he would continue to ensure all Canadians are protected by the country?s charter of rights and freedoms, ?while respecting the choices that different legislative assemblies can make.? France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Bulgaria and the German state of Bavaria have imposed restrictions on the wearing of full-face veils in public places, with Denmark on track to set its own ban. Right-wing extremist groups and some local French-speaking media in recent years have targeted Quebec?s Muslims as part of a broader debate on the accommodation of religious and cultural minorities in the province. Incidents of hate crimes have increased in Quebec in recent years. In January, six people were killed in a shooting at a Quebec City mosque. A French-Canadian university student has been charged as the sole suspect.
  10. Maryam Nawaz appears before the accountability court on Oct 19, 2017. Photo: Geo News ISLAMABAD: Maryam Nawaz said on Thursday that it is for the first time the ?Sicilian Mafia? is appearing before the courts. The former prime minister's daughter was likely referring to a reference to the notorious mafia by the Supreme Court in June this year while hearing a contempt case against the then ruling party member Senator Nehal Hashmi. Hashmi, in a leaked video, had threatened those "investigating the prime minister's son". Talking to members of the media inside the courtroom where a corruption hearing against her and family is under way, Maryam said, ?First they awarded us a punishment and then the trial started?. Govt regrets SC judge's 'mafia' remarks in Nehal Hashmi case ?The honourable judge leveled baseless allegations against govt, She said Nawaz Sharif is likely to come back at the end of this week or next week, adding that her mother Kulsoom?s health is improving and she is undergoing chemotherapy. The hearing is presently under way. Mafia reference The apex court, which took suo motu notice of the remarks, came down hard on Hashmi over his controversial speech, with Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed commenting that only mafias and terrorists threaten children in the way that he [Hashmi] did. Justice Azmat also 'congratulated' the attorney general for being part of a 'mafia' government. Panama verdict: Justice Khosa's dissenting note references 'The Godfather' The Godfather reference in Panama Case verdict Moreover, Supreme Court Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, in his dissenting judgment of April 20, 2017 in the Panama Papers case, had begun his judgment with a quote from The Godfather.
  11. Past hour
  12. geo_embedgallery ANGOOR ADDA: Pakistan's military took the rare step of flying international media to the border with Afghanistan Wednesday to showcase its efforts to harden the porous, militancy-wracked frontier: a chain-link fence shrouded in barbed wire. The roughly 10-foot tall fence ? which Pakistan announced it had begun building in March ? stretches through parts of the rugged tribal districts of North and South Waziristan along the Afghan border. Over recent decades militants from the Afghan Taliban, al-Qaeda, and other groups have operated with impunity in the region, crossing the colonial-era frontier at will. A top Pakistani officer in South Waziristan told foreign media at Angoor Adda's Hamza Fort that the fence was an "epoch shift" in control of the border. To date, only 43 kilometres of the border have been separated by the fence, but the officer said the entire length would be covered by the end of next year. "There'll not be an inch of the international border that shall not remain under observation by December of (20)18," said the officer, who the military requested not be named. Trump backs off Afghan withdrawal, slams Pakistan over ?terrorist safe havens? Trump warns vital aid could be cut if Pakistan does not stop "By the time we are done, Inshallah (God willing), we'll be very sure of one thing, that nobody can cross this place." Pakistani soldiers at the forts spaced along the frontier scanned the rolling, bush-covered hills on the other side. Inside the forts, more troops monitored CCTV cameras trained on the fence, illuminated by solar power at night. The military also took reporters by helicopter to Kitton Orchard Fort near Ghulam Khan in North Waziristan, more than 200 kilometres away. Pakistan and Afghanistan have long accused one another of offering safe havens in the border region, from where militants could launch devastating cross-frontier attacks. In August, US President Donald Trump lambasted Islamabad for harbouring "agents of chaos" on its soil. Washington has for years accused Pakistan of allowing Afghan Taliban fighters to regroup inside its borders and target NATO and Afghan troops inside Afghanistan. Islamabad has repeatedly denied the accusations and claimed the US has ignored the price it has paid in thousands of lives as it grapples with militancy. Fencing Problems: Torkham border remains closed for third day LANDIKOTAL: The Torkham border between Pakistan and Afghanistan remained closed for the third consecutive day on Thursday after talks between Pakistani and Afghan authorities failed to reduce... Kabul, meanwhile, has denounced the fence, which threatens to upset the daily lives of communities who have traditionally paid little mind to the border. Afghanistan has refused to recognise the Durand Line ? a 2,400-kilometre frontier drawn by the British in 1896 ? as it splits the Pashtun ethnic group between the nations. Some villages straddle the frontier, with mosques and houses with one door in Pakistan and another in Afghanistan. Residents there now face stricter controls and are obliged to use official crossing points, which are subject to delays and frequent closures, including one that was lifted last week after a full month. The media visit to the fence came after a US drone targeted a compound along the border used by Taliban-allied Haqqani fighters late Monday, killing over two dozen militants. The barrage was initially reported to have struck inside Pakistan but this was later refuted by Islamabad, highlighting the opaque nature of where the border exactly lies.
  13. ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam and son-in-law MNA Capt (retd) Safdar are expected to be indicted today in the corruption references filed against them in an accountability court. The references were filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in light of the Supreme Court's July 28 verdict in the Panama Papers case. Though Maryam and Safdar are reportedly in the country, the former premier is in London with his sons ? who, too, are accused. However, Nawaz is likely to still be indicted today as a representative on his behalf will plead the charges against him. Nawaz's plea to halt proceedings Nawaz Sharif pleads SC to file one corruption reference instead of three Petition terms illegal filling of three similar corruption references; calls on SC to halt trials until single reference is filed On October 13, the former prime minister filed a plea in the Supreme Court seeking the quashing of the 'concurrent' corruption references against him. It also calls upon the Supreme Court to halt the accountability court proceedings of the three references against the Sharif family until a single reference is filed. Indictment deferred At the last hearing on October 13, the former prime minister did not appear in court as he is in London, along with his sons, to be with his wife who is undergoing treatment for lymphoma. Lawyers' commotion delays Nawaz, Maryam and Safdar's indictment until Oct 19 Maryam Nawaz and Capt (retd) Safdar were both in court today but the judge halted the proceedings after lawyers protested against police high-handedness The former premier's legal team nominated Zafir Khan as the "pleader" ? the person who will stand for Nawaz in court during his indictment. Moreover, Judge Mohammad Bashir also approved NAB's plea to declare Hussain and Hasan Nawaz proclaimed offenders and separated their proceedings in the three references filed against them. Commotion at last hearing A commotion by members of the legal fraternity on Friday forced the accountability court judge to adjourn proceedings minutes after they began. As the hearing went under way, the lawyers began protesting inside the court for beind disallowed to enter the premises by security personnel. They claimed the Islamabad High Court has allowed lawyers to be present inside the judicial complex as well as the accountability court as "it is an open court". Punjab AAG Khawar Bhatti assaulting a police officer on Oct 13, 2017. Photo: Geo News The lawyers also argued with the deputy attorney general and created a commotion, forcing Judge Mohammad Bashir to leave for his chamber and abort the proceedings. NAB officials said that they were manhandled by the lawyers as well and the head of their prosecution team, Sardar Muzaffar, was pushed from the dais. After Punjab Additional Advocate General Khawar Ikram Bhatti was caught on camera slapping a police officer outside the court premises, the Punjab government on October 16 dismissed him from service. The references The NAB has in total filed three references against the Sharif family and one against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in the accountability court, in light of the Supreme Court's orders in the Panama Papers case verdict of July 28. The anti-graft body was given six weeks, from the date of the apex court's order, to file the reference in an accountability court while the accountability court was granted six months to wrap up the proceedings. The references against the Sharif family pertain to the Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metals Establishment, their London properties and over dozen offshore companies owned by the family. Court approves Maryam, Safdar's bail; separates cases of Nawaz's sons The hearing has been adjourned until Oct 13 when Nawaz, Maryam and Safdar are expected to be indicted Maryam and Safdar are only nominated in the London properties reference. At an earlier hearing, the court also approved Maryam and Safdar's bail in the Avenfiled properties case and ordered them to submit surety bonds worth Rs5 million each. Safdar was also directed to take the court's permission before leaving the country from now on. The judge also provided a copy of the reference ? spread over 53 volumes ? to Maryam and Safdar. NAB's Rawalpindi branch prepared two references regarding the Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metals Establishment, and the nearly dozen companies owned by the Sharif family. Its Lahore branch prepared a reference on the Sharif family's Avenfield apartments in London and another against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for owning assets beyond his known sources of income. If convicted, the accused may face up to 14 years imprisonment and lifelong disqualification from holding public office including the freezing of bank accounts and assets.
  14. KIEV: Five people were killed Wednesday when a car ploughed into a crowd of pedestrians in the northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, local police said, ruling out a terror link. The Kharkiv police department said six others were hurt, although the extent of their injuries remained unclear. But local police spokesman Yaroslav Trakalo told the Ukrainska Pravda news site that two women's condition was "very serious". The police statement said the female driver of the SUV vehicle had been detained, adding that a criminal case involving driving safety violations had been launched. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail, the police statement said. Photographs published on various Ukrainian news sites showed the remains of a black SUV vehicle scattered across a crosswalk where the accident occurred. Kharkiv is located less than 300 kilometres (190 miles) northwest of Ukraine's eastern war zone in which more than 10,000 have died in fighting between government soldiers and Russian-backed insurgents. The city itself was briefly the site of pro-Russian protests after Ukraine toppled its Kremlin-backed leadership in a February 2014 revolt. But the city of about 1.4 million people has avoided being dragged into the conflict and remains firmly under the Ukrainian government's control.
  15. Aristolochia clematitis, a plant that contains aristolochic acids. Image Courtesy: National Cancer Institute MIAMI: Researchers have uncovered widespread evidence of a link between traditional Chinese herbal remedies and liver cancer across Asia, a study said Wednesday. The findings suggest stronger measures are needed to prevent people from consuming chemicals called aristolochic acids (AA), which are derived from the woody vines of the Aristolochia plant family, said the report in the journal Science Translational Medicine. The acids can be found in some traditional Chinese medicines that are given during childbirth, to prevent parasites and promote healing. Researchers tested 98 liver tumours that were stored at hospitals in Taiwan, and found that 78 percent contained mutation patterns that indicated the cancers "were likely due to contact with the chemicals," said the study. Since these acids cause "a well-defined mutational signature," researchers also looked at 89 samples of liver cancer in China and found that 47 percent showed a link to this traditional medicine component. In Vietnam, five out of 26 tumours studied were a match (19 percent), along with five out of nine from other countries in Southeast Asia (56 percent). The link to traditional Chinese medicine was far less common in North America (five percent of 209 liver cancers studied) and 1.7 percent of the 230 looked at from Europe. Taiwan banned in 2003 some herbal preparations using the plants after it was discovered that aristolochic acids could cause kidney failure and urinary tract cancers. However, there is no outright ban in China or Taiwan, and "only specific plants, rather than any plant and product containing AA or its derivatives, are regulated," making it hard for consumers to avoid them, said the report. Researchers found that the prevalence of AA-associated mutations in liver cancers in Taiwan did not drop after the ban was implemented. This could be because it would take more time for a drop in cancers to be noticeable in the data, as was the case with tobacco-related cancers after smoking was revealed to cause lung tumours. Or it could be that people continue to be exposed to these acids through other products and herbal mixtures that still contain them.
  16. Today
  17. This photo ? released on October 18, 2017, by Airbus DS and taken by Constellation DMC satellite ? shows wildfires in California, with the black zones highlighting areas devastated by the fire, October 15, 2017. AFP/Handout via Airbus DS/DMC Constellation/UK-DMC 2 SAN FRANCISCO: The death toll from California's wildfires rose to 42 on Wednesday, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) said, as rescuers found another body. The latest victim was found in Sonoma County, the worst-hit part of California's wine-growing region that has been scorched by multiple infernos raging since October 9 but now largely under control. Cal Fire said almost 10,000 firefighters were still battling 13 major fires, however, with more than 850 square kilometres (325 square miles) burned across the state. More than 22,000 people have still not been able to return home, down from 75,000 a few days ago. "Cooler temperatures and increased humidity overnight have aided firefighters in their efforts," Cal Fire said in a statement. "Weather conditions this week will continue to help in the containment progress. In fact, light rain in northern California is forecast for Thursday night," it added. Around 5,700 homes and businesses have been destroyed by the fires, the deadliest in California's history.
  18. Chelsea and AS Roma served up a rip-roaring 3-3 draw at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday as both clubs stayed firmly on course for a place in the last 16 of the Champions League. Edin Dzeko scored twice on his 100th appearance for Roma in an enthralling contest as the Italians stormed back from 2-0 down to lead 3-2 with 20 minutes remaining, only for Eden Hazard to salvage a point for Group C leaders Chelsea with a header. The goal flow began in the 11th minute when David Luiz?s curler put Chelsea ahead and when Hazard doubled the home side?s advantage in the 36th, it looked like being a routine night for Antonio Conte?s side. Aleksandar Kolarov fired Roma back into contention before the interval though and Dzeko?s double in the space of six minutes, the first a scorching volley, looked to have earned Roma only their second win in 16 attempts on English soil. Hazard?s equaliser kept Chelsea top with seven points from three games with Roma on five -- three ahead of Atletico Madrid who were surprisingly held to a 0-0 draw by Qarabag. ?It is a good result for both teams but when you are 2-0 up at home you must win the game,? Hazard said. ?Now we have to play in Rome but we will try to win the game. After two defeats it?s not easy to bounce back.? Chelsea, reeling from successive Premier League defeats, spent much of the first half on the back foot but were clinical when it mattered as they moved into a 2-0 lead. The hosts went ahead when Luiz, playing in central midfield in place of the injured N?Golo Kante, produced a stunning curler from 25 metres past Roma keeper Alisson Becker. Radja Nainggolan and Diego Perotti wasted gilt-edged chances for Roma and those misses looked terminal for Roma?s hopes when Chelsea struck again with a 36th-minute counter-attack. Alvaro Morata and Hazard combined before Morata?s cross spun off a Roma defender and into the path of Hazard who rammed home his side?s second. Conte said he never felt his side were ?in control? and the tide began to turn Roma?s way when Kolarov was allowed to burst into the area before firing a shot that nicked off Andreas Christensen on its way past Thibaut Courtois and into the net. Roma began the second half full of purpose and Dzeko looked poised to tap-in Kolarov?s low cut back only to see the ball diverted off his toes by the alert Courtois. A disgruntled Luiz was replaced by Pedro but Roma had taken a stranglehold and levelled in stunning fashion as Dzeko belted an unstoppable left-foot volley beyond Courtois. Six minutes later Dzeko took his tally for the season to 12 goals in all competitions for club and country, the Bosnian hitman left unmarked to head in Kolarov?s free kick. Roma?s lead lasted only four minutes though as Hazard glanced in Pedro?s cross with a superb header. There was still time for both sides to win a classic encounter, the best falling to Dzeko who inexplicably headed wide from point-blank range. Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco praised his side?s character. ?We were two goals down after two individual mistakes but we had 70 percent of the ball in the first half,? he said. ?We tried to win with the right mentality.?
  19. Eric Reid #35 and Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers kneel in protest during the national anthem prior to their NFL game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, October 23, 2016. AFP/Getty Images North America/Ezra Shaw/Files WASHINGTON: National Football League (NFL) commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday that the league believes players should stand for the national anthem but he stopped short of endorsing US President Donald Trump's demand that they be forced to do so. "We respect our country, we respect our flag, we respect our national anthem," Goodell told a news conference in New York several hours after Trump expressed disappointment that the NFL was not obliging players to stand for "The Star-Spangled Banner." "We believe that our players should stand for our national anthem," Goodell said. "We want our players to stand. We're going to encourage them to stand." But Goodell did not announce any changes to existing NFL policy, which says players "should" stand for the anthem but does not make it mandatory. The NFL commissioner also declined to reply when asked what he would do if owners moved to punish players who refused to stand for the anthem, saying he would not discuss "hypotheticals". Trump waded back into the controversy over NFL players kneeling in protest during the national anthem with an early morning tweet on Wednesday. "The NFL has decided that it will not force players to stand for the playing of our National Anthem," Trump said. "Total disrespect for our great country!" Trump's tweet came after a meeting of NFL team owners and player representatives in New York on Tuesday. Goodell also said that only "six or seven players" were taking part in protests and "we're going to continue to work to try to put that at zero". "But we want to make sure that we're understanding what the players are talking about, and that's complex," he said. Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick launched the protests in 2016, refusing to stand for the national anthem to draw attention to racial injustice and police brutality against blacks. Asked if he understood what the players were protesting about, Goodell said they were "talking about equality issues." 'Stay out of politics' "These are national issues, American issues," he said. "The owners and the NFL really do care about their issues." Goodell also said the NFL is trying to "stay out of politics". "What we're trying to do is get people focused on football," he said. The protests had mostly fizzled out until last month when Trump reignited the issue by decrying any player who kneeled during the anthem as a "son of a bitch" who should be fired. Trump's remarks sparked a furious backlash amongst NFL players, team owners, and league officials, with large-scale protests by players during the anthem in the weekend following the president's tirade. Trump has maintained his offensive against the protesting athletes, on Monday calling for the NFL to suspend players who continued to kneel. Polls have found that a majority of Americans disapprove of the anthem protests but are unhappy with the way Trump has handled the issue. The protests have also created divisions amongst NFL team owners. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said any of his players kneeling during the anthem risked being benched. However, San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York has reportedly vowed to stand by players who continue to kneel.
  20. Demonstrators at a #NoMuslimBanEver rally and march "to protest discriminatory policies that unlawfully target and hurt American Muslim and immigrant communities across the country", Washington, October 18, 2017. AFP/Jim Watson WASHINGTON: A second judge ordered a freeze on President Donald Trump's newest travel ban order on Wednesday, saying it was essentially targeted at Muslims in violation of the US Constitution. Maryland federal judge Theodore Chuang said the ban affecting travellers from six majority-Muslim countries and North Korea, as well as many officials from Venezuela, essentially had not changed from the first two versions, which were shot down in lower courts as discriminating against a single religion. He pointed out, as in earlier rulings, that Trump had repeatedly promised a ban on Muslims coming into the country during last year's presidential election. Chuang was the second judge this week to order a block on the open-ended ban, issued in a White House executive order in September and which was to come into effect on Wednesday. Hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the White House Wednesday, chanting "no Muslim ban," and "no ban, no wall, freedom for all" ? referencing Trump's plans to build a wall on the Mexican border. A march to the Trump International Hotel, a few blocks away, was also planned. Yemeni Fathi al-Huthaifi, 41, told AFP his wife is stranded in Saudi Arabia as a result of the ban. "She's waiting for her visa but the travel ban makes it delayed, delayed," explained Huthaifi, who has five children, all with US citizenship. "When we allow one group to get banned, then we allow other groups to get banned," civil rights activist Linda Sarsour said, adding, "This is part of a standing campaign of this administration, a white supremacist agenda." Isra Chaker ? a refugee camp adviser for Oxfam America ? branded the ban "an affront to the American tradition". "This decision impacts life of real people... no one (chooses) to become a refugee," she said. On Tuesday, Hawaii federal district judge Derrick Watson also objected to the ban, saying it illegally discriminated against the entire populations of six countries ? Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen ? and would not, as it claimed, add to US national security. Trump has battled with the courts since the first version of the ban, and in June finally gained Supreme Court approval to implement an amended second version for 90 days, which ended last month. On Tuesday the White House said it would fight the newest ban by Watson, pointing to yet another likely fight in the Supreme Court.
  21. Lionel Messi scored his 100th goal in European competition as Barcelona moved close to qualifying for the Champions League knockout stages by outclassing Olympiakos 3-1 on Wednesday despite playing the entire second half with 10 men. Gerard Pique was sent off two minutes before halftime for two bookings, one for tugging an opponent?s shirt and the other for slapping the ball into the net, but Barca were barely threatened by a hapless Olympiakos side who are badly under-performing in their Greek title defence. The Athens club, who won three league titles and two domestic Cups under current Barca coach Ernesto Valverde, are fifth in the standings in the Greek top flight and have lost all their games in the Champions League. Barca took the lead in the 18th minute on a rainswept evening at a sparsely attended Nou Camp when visiting defender Dimitrios Nikolaou turned Gerard Deulofeu?s cross into his own net. It was the fifth own goal Barca have benefited from this season in all competitions. Messi struck his landmark goal in Europe from a free kick in the 61st minute to double Barca?s lead. It was his 97th goal in the Champions League, while his other three strikes in Europe came in the UEFA Super Cup. The Argentine then carved his way through the hapless visiting defence moments later to tee up France left back Lucas Digne to score his first goal in the Champions League for Barca. Greek defender Nikolaou put the ball in the net for the second time in the game by heading home from a corner at the other end to give Olympiakos a scantly-deserved consolation goal in the 89th minute. Barca top Champions League Group D with nine points after winning their first three games and are six ahead of Juventus. A win at Olympiakos in two weeks will seal their place in the last 16. ?We are feeling very good in the league and Champions League and we have to keep going like this,? Barca?s Sergi Roberto told reporters after his side recorded a 10th victory in 11 games. ?We are frustrated to have conceded a goal although by then the game was almost over.?
  22. Japan?s securities watchdog is investigating Toshiba Corp?s accounting practices for the last business year to see if it properly handled the losses incurred by its US nuclear unit Westinghouse, the Nikkei business daily reported on Thursday. The Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission is examining the process of how Toshiba created the financial report for the 2016/17 business year, which was released in August, the Nikkei said. The report was originally due at the end of June but Toshiba and its auditor had a conflict of opinion over when the Japanese company came to know about the losses at Westinghouse, the Nikkei said. The auditor, PriceWaterhouseCoopers Aarata LLC, in August gave a ?qualified opinion? on Toshiba?s financial results, meaning it broadly vouched for books that contained minor problems. But in a rare move, it also issued a separate ?adverse opinion? on corporate governance, saying Toshiba was late in booking Westinghouse losses. The securities watchdog will examine exchanges between Toshiba and its auditor and aims to see what led to the auditor?s decision, and why reports from previous years were postponed repeatedly, the Nikkei reported. The investigation was not due to any new discoveries or allegations, according to the Nikkei. A Toshiba spokesman declined to comment on the report.
  23. Former French minister Rachida Dati, October 19, 2016. REUTERS/Régis Duvignau/Files PARIS: Former French minister Rachida Dati on Wednesday urged tougher action against sexual harassment, saying efforts should target powerful abusers rather than "street harassment." With the issue in the headlines after a string of allegations against disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein going back decades, Dati demanded political efforts targeting "men in power" who she said should face "really heavy" punishment. "This story (concerning Weinstein) shows as ever how the elites protect their own backs," she told France's BFMTV. "We criticise those in the suburbs ? those boys who stop girls dressing the way they want. But here, we have something much more serious," Dati ? who was the minister of justice under former conservative president Nicolas Sarkozy ? said. "People want to legislate on street harassment. But frankly, when someone wolf-whistles you? you can give him a slap if you want." "What annoys me is this abuse by powerful men towards women who sometimes have no choice" but to give in, said Dati ? a lawmaker in the European Parliament (EP) and also active in Parisian politics. Dati has long called for action against sexism and elitism in French politics. She referred to the case of French former International Monetary Fund (IMF) head Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who resigned in 2011 after becoming embroiled in a sexual assault case brought by a hotel maid. Dati said she was incredulous that widely rumoured allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour had not come to light earlier via the media. "Weren't journalists aware of his behaviour? Let's be honest, everyone was talking about it." "Punishments really have to be harsh, very harsh against abusers who use their power or their money," concluded Dati.
  24. Paris St Germain?s feared attacking trio all got on the scoresheet as the French side completed a comfortable 4-0 away victory over Anderlecht in their Champions League Group B clash on Wednesday. Kylian Mbappe, Edinson Cavani and Neymar, who form the world?s most expensive frontline, all netted, while Angel Di Maria added a fourth with a late strike, in a win that maintains the Ligue 1 side?s 100 percent record in the group stage with three wins from three. They head the standings with nine points from second-placed Bayern Munich, who have six. Celtic are in third with a single victory to their name, while Anderlecht are still searching for their first points. PSG should have won by a greater margin as they spurned a number of chances and will be confident of victory when the teams meet again in their next fixture in the group in Paris on Oct. 31. ?We want to make an impression in this competition. We came here to try and win in style and are happy to go back to Paris with the three points,? Mbappe told French TV. ?We had good game but are aware there are many games still ahead and we need to keep up the intensity. It?s a competition where we need to be at our maximum.? The visitors led inside three minutes when Mbappe drilled the ball low through the legs of Anderlecht goalkeeper Matz Sels from a tight angle after being set up by Marco Verratti. It should have been 2-0 midway through the first half when Leander Dendoncker?s back-pass to Sels was woefully short and Mbappe found himself one-on-one with the keeper. Sels managed to get a hand to the ball but only pushed it as far as Neymar, who shot wide from the edge of the box. PSG did get their second just a minute before halftime though as Neymar?s bullet shot was parried into the air by Sels and Mbappe followed up to head across goal for Cavani to nod into the net. It was the seventh Champions League match in a row in which the Uruguayan forward has scored. Cavani and Mbappe then both contrived to miss chances with just Sels to beat, before Neymar got his name on the scoresheet as he drilled a low freekick under the jumping Anderlecht wall and into the back of the net. Home forward Henry Onyekuru, on loan from Everton, struck the crossbar with 10 minutes remaining, the closest Anderlecht came to a goal. The rout was complete when Di Maria saw the Anderlecht defence part in front of him and he raced through to chip the ball past an exposed Sels.
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  26. Juventus rallied from a bizarre Alex Sandro own goal to battle past Sporting Lisbon 2-1 on Wednesday and move second behind Barcelona in Champions League Group D. The Portuguese visitors surged ahead after 12 minutes in the Allianz Stadium when the ball accidentally bounced off the Brazilian left-back and into his own net after Gianluigi Buffon had saved from Gelson Martins. But Bosnian midfielder Miralem Pjanic hauled the hosts back into the game after 29 minutes before Croatian forward Mario Mandzukic headed in the winner six minutes from time. Juventus -- who lost their opening game 3-0 to Barcelona but beat Olympiakos 2-0 with late goals -- are second in Group D behind the Spaniards with six points from three games. Sporting are now third. "It was a tough game, and an important win," said Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini. "The important thing was not to concede goals but we didn't dwell on it (the own goal), we showed personality." It was a first win for the Turin club since their victory over Olympiakos as they have been frustrated in Serie A recently. Italian title-winners in the last six seasons, Juventus lost to Lazio on Saturday -- a first home defeat in over two years -- after being held by Atalanta the previous week. But they looked to be struggling for form again as they were pushed hard in Turin by a Portuguese side chasing a first win in Italy. Pjanic -- returning after almost a month out with a thigh problem -- partnered Sami Khedira in midfield with Blaise Matuidi rested. After the unfortunate own goal, Gonzalo Higuain's close-range shot five minutes later was blocked before Rui Patricio dived to keep out a Khedira effort. Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala also missed chances as Juventus poured forward in search of the equaliser. But Pjanic broke through, sending a free-kick awarded for a Rodrigo Battaglia foul on Pjanic over the wall and into the net. Mandzukic missed a chance to head in from close range off a pinpoint Higuain cross after an hour. Sporting goalkeeper Patricio then struggled to deal with Alex Sandro's cross-shot, but Juventus got the winner after Douglas Costa was introduced as a late substitute in place of Stefano Sturaro. Brazilian winger Costa had been on the pitch for less than a minute when he crossed from the left for Mandzukic to score with a low header at the back post.
  27. WASHINGTON: Police arrested a gunman suspected of killing three people and wounding two Wednesday at a suburban Maryland business park before shooting another man in neighbouring Delaware. "The suspect in this incident has been located and is in police custody," the Wilmington, Delaware police department said of Radee Prince, 37. Wilmington Police Chief Robert Tracy earlier told reporters that Prince "is a dangerous individual. This person shot six people in one day" in attacks that were not random. Prince had been sought "in connection with both multiple shooting incident early this morning in Edgewood, Maryland and another shooting incident at mid-morning today" in Wilmington, Delaware, a statement from police said. Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler said three people died in the first incident at a granite business just before 9am. He confirmed a handgun was used and two other victims were transported to trauma centres in serious condition. When the shooter was still at large, several Edgewood-area schools were placed on lockdown, officials said, while the nearby set of popular Netflix show House of Cards was also reportedly secured. Gahler said Prince was associated with the company, Advanced Granite Solutions, where the first shooting occurred, near Baltimore. "This does appear to be a targeted attack, limited to that business," he said. Latest mass shooting Police were investigating Prince's connection with the firm, where all five victims of the first shooting were employed, Gahler said, declining to give further details about them. He said other people besides the five victims were on the premises when the shooting took place. Tracy said the victim in the second shooting identified the gunman. "They're known to each other and they've had some past history," he told a news conference. The suspect fled the first attack in a car registered in Delaware, Gahler said. Variety magazine reported that the set of House of Cards, which is partly filmed in Maryland, was placed on lockdown while police searched for the shooter. The executive producer of the series, Dana Brunetti, addressed the incident in a Facebook post. "Shooting near House of Cards set," Brunetti wrote. Some of the school lockdowns were later lifted, according to Harford County Public Schools. The incident was the latest mass shooting in a country where such killings have become tragically commonplace. On Oct 1, a gunman in a 32nd-floor casino hotel room rained fire down on concert-goers in Las Vegas, killing 58 and wounding more than 500. It was the deadliest shooting in recent US history. To date in 2017 there have been 286 mass shootings ? nearly one per day ? according to the online Gun Violence Archive.
  28. Barcelona shrugged off an early Gerard Pique red card and the distractions of a first match at the Camp Nou since a violent crackdown of an independence referendum in Catalonia to beat Olympiakos 3-1 on Wednesday. A Dimitrios Nikolaou own goal and second-half strikes from Lionel Messi and Lucas Digne ensured a comfortable evening for the hosts on the field, while the political tension sweeping across Catalonia was seen in the stands despite a low turnout due to torrential rain. Barca lead Group D with a perfect record from three games, while Juventus remain three points behind thanks to a 2-1 win over Sporting Lisbon. A near 50-metre banner produced by the club called for "Dialogue, Respect, and Sport" before kick-off as Barca continued their plea for both sides of the political divide to reconcile their differences. "In such a complicated, difficult situation in Catalonia, Barcelona has to take a stand and our position is very clear - we want dialogue," Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu told Barca TV. "By speaking people understand each other and come to points of agreement. "We also ask for respect for everyone involved in such a complex situation in Catalonia and respect for Barca. "And finally sport because we are a sporting club, not just in football but basketball, hockey, handball and we will continue to compete on the field." Catalonia's separatist leader Carles Puigdemont must abandon his bid for independence from Spain on Thursday or face an unprecedented move by Madrid to seek a suspension of his region's autonomy. Barca's singing section also held up a banner reading 'Freedom for Catalonia', while there were habitual chants in favour of independence in the 17th minute of each half to mark the fall of Catalonia in the Spanish War of Succession in 1714. Those cries were briefly halted in the first period, though, as Barca went in front in the 18th minute when Nikolaou sliced Gerard Deulofeu's cross into his own net. The club have supported Catalonia's right to self-determination in a referendum, but stopped short of backing independence. Barca beat Las Palmas 3-0 behind closed doors on October 1 as a protest at the violent scenes across Catalonia, according to Bartomeu. However, the decision to go ahead with the match proved divisive as two Barca board members resigned in the aftermath and there were calls for Bartomeu to resign from supporters at the start of the second half. Barca announced on Tuesday representatives of pro-independence citizens' groups Omnium Cultural and the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) were invited after their leaders Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sanchez were detained on Monday on charges of sedition. However, both organisations refused that offer. Messi scores free-kick Pique dominated headlines for his outspoken criticism of the police brutality on the day of the October 1 referendum and his subsequent treatment when on international duty with Spain as he was jeered. However, for once it was his performance on the pitch that was left open to criticism as he was stupidly sent off for slapping the ball into the net two minutes before half-time after picking up an early booking. Barca, though, shrugged off their numerical disadvantage as Messi scored his 100th goal in European competition and 97th in the Champions League on the hour mark. The Argentine dinked a free-kick towards goal, but needed the help of a poor effort from Olympiakos 'keeper Silvio Proto, who merely helped the ball on its way into the net. Messi was involved again for Barca's third three minutes later as his cutback was drilled home by Lucas Digne. Olympiakos pulled a goal back a minute from time as Nikolaou made amends for his earlier error with a towering header, but the Greeks remain rooted to the bottom of group without a point.
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