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  1. Photo: File ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office summoned Indian Deputy High Commissioner JP Singh twice in two days to condemn yet another killing, this time of a labourer, during unprovoked firing by Indian troops along the Line of Control. According to FO, the labourer was working at a crushing plant in Rawalakot on the bank of a river in Pooch district when unprovoked firing by Indian soldiers claimed his life. A statement issued by FO on Thursday read that India continued to indulge in ceasefire violations despite calls for restraint. So far in 2018, the Indian forces have carried out more than 391 ceasefire violations along the LoC and the Working Boundary, resulting in the killing of 16 civilians and causing injuries to 65 others, the statement read. This unprecedented escalation in ceasefire violations by India has continued from 2017 when the Indian forces committed more than 1,970 ceasefire violations, it added. Pakistan lodges protest with India on killing of minor at LoC Indian deputy high commissioner summoned over unprovoked firing at the de facto border The deliberate targetting of civilian populated areas is indeed deplorable and contrary to human dignity, international human rights and humanitarian laws, the statement read. The ceasefire violations by India are a threat to regional peace and security and may lead to a strategic miscalculation. South Asia Director General Dr Mohammad Faisal has therefore urged the Indian side to respect the 2003 ceasefire arrangement; investigate this and other incidents of ceasefire violations; instruct the Indian forces to respect the ceasefire, in letter and spirit and maintain peace on the LoC and the Working Boundary. The Indian side should permit United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan to play its mandated role as per the UN Security Council resolutions, Dr Faisal added.
  2. Photo: AFP Pakistan is in the list of countries with highest mortality rates as at least one among every 22 babies faced chances of death, revealed a report released Tuesday by United Nations Children?s Fund. According to the report, most of these poor countries are in Africa, where babies still face ?alarming? risks of death that can be 50 times as high as those in the richest countries, according to a UNICEF report released Tuesday. For instance, a newborn in Japan had only a one in 1,111 risk of dying, the report said. While the last quarter-century has seen broad improvements in older children's health, ?we have not made similar progress in ending deaths among children less than one month old,? said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF's executive director. ?Given that the majority of these deaths are preventable, clearly we are failing the world?s poorest babies.? Of the 10 highest-risk countries, eight are in sub-Saharan Africa, countries where ?pregnant women are much less likely to receive assistance,? due to poverty, conflict or weak institutions, according to the report. Those eight countries are the Central African Republic (a one in 24 chance of death); Somalia, Lesotho, Guinea-Bissau and South Sudan (all with a one in 26 chance); Cote d'Ivoire (one in 27) and Mali and Chad (both with a one in 28 chance). Each year, some 2.6 million babies do not survive through their first month. Preventable deaths The report was released in conjunction with the launch of a global campaign, called Every Child Alive, aimed at ensuring ?affordable, quality health care solutions for every mother and newborn?. More than 80% of newborn deaths can be prevented, the report says, ?with access to well-trained midwives, along with proven solutions like clean water, disinfectants, breastfeeding within the first hour, skin-to-skin contact and good nutrition?. But shortages of properly trained health workers and midwives are a major problem in poorer nations. While a rich country like Norway has 18 doctors, nurses and midwives for every 10,000 people, impoverished Somalia has only one. Every year, one million babies die the day they are born. ?We know we can save the vast majority of these babies with affordable, quality health care solutions,? Fore said. Rwandan success story In general, babies born in richer countries fare far better, but there are differences within countries. Babies born to the poorest families are 40% more likely to die than those born to the least poor. Sadly typical was the story of Mary James, an 18-year-old from rural Malawi. When her labour started, she and her sister made the long trek to a health centre on foot. When her baby was delivered, he was small and terribly weak. She says an overstretched staff did its best, but by night the child was gone. ?I felt like my heart was breaking,? James told UNICEF staff. ?I had a name for the child but he never opened his eyes.? Since improvements to health care can be expensive, ?it is crucial to invest the money in a smart way?, UNICEF?s global maternity and newborn programme chief Willibald Zeck told AFP. That can mean something as simple as ensuring that a pregnant woman who has walked three days to a health care facility is received with ?dignity?, so she remains long enough to receive proper postnatal care. But the dearth of expensive equipment matters. Zeck, who worked as an obstetrician/gynecologist in Tanzania, said women were often unsure how pregnant they were, and he would have to use his hands to estimate whether a fetus was premature or seriously underweight. Still, among countries that have made dramatic improvements is low-income Rwanda, which more than halved its rate from 1990 to 2016, illustrating that ?political will to invest in strong health systems... is critical,? the report said. Education matters, too. Babies born to mothers with no education face nearly twice the risk of early death as babies whose mothers have at least a secondary education. The United States ? generally affluent, but with considerable income inequality and wide variations in access to health care ? was only the 41st safest country for newborns. The countries with the lowest newborn mortality rates, after Japan, are mostly well-off countries with strong education and health care systems: Iceland (a one in 1,000 chance of death), Singapore (one in 909), Finland (one in 833), Estonia and Slovenia (both one in 769), Cyprus (one in 714) and Belarus, Luxembourg, Norway and South Korea (all with risks of one in 667).
  3. SWAT and police are seen in Coral Springs, Florida, US, February 14, 2018. Image obtained from social media/Twitter/@Grumpyhaus At least three people died and 50 were wounded when a gunman opened fire at a Florida high school on Wednesday, local media reported, with dozens of police and emergency officials surrounding the building while students fled. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland ? about 72 kilometres (45 miles) north of Miami ? had been placed on a ?code red? lockdown but had no information on victims, a spokeswoman for the county sheriff?s office said. SWAT and police are seen in Coral Springs, Florida, US, February 14, 2018. Image obtained from social media/Twitter/@Grumpyhaus The sheriff?s office said on Twitter that the shooter was still at large. Florida?s WSVN-TV reported at least 20 people were injured. Live television showed dozens of students running and walking away from the school, weaving their way between large numbers of emergency vehicles including police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks. Image Courtesy: CNN/Screenshot Others, in the television images, were being led out of the school by heavily-armed police officers and an armoured vehicle filled with a SWAT team arriving at the scene. One injured victim was seen being placed into an ambulance on a stretcher. Local FOX-10 TV reported that five people were seen being treated by paramedics.
  4. South Korean President Moon Jae-in, his wife Kim Jung-Suk, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of North Korea Kim Young Nam and Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, watch North Korea's Samjiyon Orchestra's performance in Seoul, South Korea, February 11, 2018. ? Reuters SEOUL: A prim, young woman with a high forehead and hair half swept back quietly gazes at the throngs of people pushing for a glimpse of her, a faint smile on her lips and eyelids low as four bodyguards jostle around her. In her first appearance on the global stage, Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, had her every move closely scrutinized. Crowds applauded as she stood for the South Korean anthem during the opening ceremony for the start of the Winter Olympic Games, while her big smiles and relaxed manner left a largely positive impression on the South Korean public. But her sometimes aloof expression and high-tilted chin also spoke of someone who sees herself ?of royalty? and ?above anyone else?, leadership experts and some critics said. Kim Yo Jong?s visit to South Korea, the first by a member of the North?s ruling bloodline since their 1950-53 war, could hardly have come at a more acute time. US Vice President Mike Pence was also in town, leading international pressure on North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program and reminding the world of the Kim family?s brutal regime. When shaking hands or eating meals with officials such as South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Kim Yo Jong was all smiles, even agreeing to give a toast suddenly requested of her by the presidential Blue House?s chief of staff. ?I can?t speak very well in public,? she told guests attending a dinner at the five-star Banyan Tree Club and Spa in Seoul. ?I never thought I would visit (the South) so suddenly and believed much would be strange and different but I saw many things that were similar or the same. I hope the day we become one comes soon and hope to see all your friendly faces in Pyongyang.? Soft power With so little known about her (even her age of 28 is unconfirmed), scrutiny on Kim Yo Jong was intense, dominating local media and internet chatrooms. ?Personally I think she looked very relaxed during her visit to South Korea,? said Kang Mi-jin, a North Korean defector who works at the Seoul-based Daily NK website. ?Her facial expressions were cool and she didn?t seem flustered.? Reportedly schooled in Switzerland, the youngest daughter of former leader Kim Jong Il was promoted by her brother to the country?s top decision-making body in October. Kim Man-heum, head of the Korea Academy of Politics and Leadership, said Kim Yo Jong left a largely positive impression on the South Korean public. ?North Korea used ?soft power? this time to engage the South and her being a woman may have contributed more in that aspect,? Kim told Reuters. Even her elegant, sloping handwriting was parsed in South Korean media. Experts said it conveyed confidence, superiority and reflected a positive attitude. Not everyone was impressed, however. Kim Yo Jong?s aloof expression when she wasn?t meeting with high-ranking South Korean government officials and high-tilted chin prompted scorn from many South Koreans, who said she looked ?too haughty? or ?uppity.? ?Her neck is straight and her head is skewed to the right, automatically sending her gaze down. I think this comes from her thinking she is above everyone else,? said Bae Sang-hoon, professor of police science at Seoul Digital University and a former criminal profiler at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency. Brutal regime Critics also highlighted Kim Yo Jong?s senior role in a regime accused by a United Nations inquiry of systematic torture, starvation and killings comparable to Nazi-era atrocities. Last January, the US Treasury Department blacklisted her along with six other North Korean officials for ?severe human rights abuses? and censorship that concealed the regime?s ?inhumane and oppressive behaviour.? ?Among the upper class in Pyongyang, she is a frightening presence,? because of her relationship with her brother, said An Chan-il, a former North Korean military officer who now runs a think tank in Seoul. ?She has been thought of as royalty since she was born, and she sees herself that way as well.? The body language of the high-ranking North Korean officials who accompanied her was also telling of her status in the North, said analysts. North Korea?s 90-year-old nominal head of state Kim Yong Nam deferred to her upon arrival, asking her to sit down first ahead of tea with the South?s unification minister. It is customary in Korea and some other Asian countries for the highest ranking, usually the eldest, person in the group to sit down first for a meal or meeting. While Kim Yo Jong demurred in front of the cameras, insisting Kim Yong Nam sit first, the impression had been made. ?This showed Kim Yo Jong was the real person in power, and not just because of her lineage,? said Cheong Seong-chang, senior research fellow at the Sejong Institute.
  5. Traders from northern Hunza valley load their luggage on yaks brought from the Wakhan Corridor in northern Afghanistan WAKHAN CORRIDOR, AFGHANISTAN: Trader Afzal Baig tugs at his horse, frustrated by its stubborn refusal to take another step along a treacherous, snow-covered mountain pass that is peppered with the skeletons of those who have already failed the journey. The Irshad Pass, a narrow trail more than 16,300 feet above sea level, is part of the ancient Silk Road network, used for centuries by traders from northern Pakistan´s Hunza valley to cross the Karakoram mountains into Afghanistan´s windswept, barren Wakhan Corridor. One wrong step through the ragged mountains can end in a fall of thousands of feet, and as Baig´s horse refuses to budge a blizzard is growing. "Don´t trust this route," Baig tells an AFP reporter accompanying his group. "It can betray you anytime." They are riding to meet the Wakhi tribe, inhabitants of the remote corner of Afghanistan, who will barter yaks and cattle in exchange for the traders´ wares. It is a treacherous journey made by only a handful of people each year through the "Pamir Knot", where three of the highest mountain ranges in the world converge. Baig knocks snow from the horse´s shoe, and the party resumes their careful journey. The storm has reduced visibility to just a few feet forcing each man to follow the sound of the horse in front of him. Human skulls and other bones are scattered in caves along the route, skeletons that Baig says are the remains of other traders. He has already lost six of his travel partners, buried in avalanches along the trail. Three of them were killed in one accident, their bodies not found for nearly a year. Yaks for hats Baig´s customers in Wakhan have no money, but neither does he. The basic currency unit is livestock. Three warm hats equal one sheep, half a dozen plastic watches equal two sheep or a goat, and 10 kilogrammes of tea or five kilograms of flour equal one yak. A secondary currency is yak butter, stored in the stitched stomach lining of a dead goat or a sheep. Highly prized, one such package can be traded for ten packets of cigarettes, or three pairs of shoes, or six to eight pairs of socks. "I hope to get three yaks," Baig says after the group make camp later that night. Traders from northern Hunza valley have breakfast while travelling to the Wakhan Corridor in northern Afghanistan Trade with the people of the Wakhan Corridor is his "ancestral legacy", he explains. His elder brother and his father both walked these trails before him until old age finally brought their trading to a halt. The residents of Hunza, once a princely state that now forms part of Gilgit-Baltistan, say barter trade with Wakhan is a centuries-old tradition that has helped cement peace between them. Aziz Ali Dad, a social anthropologist who has studied the tribes of the mountainous region known as High Asia, describes the present-day barter trade as a small artery of the Silk Road. "In the old days, the tribes on the border of China, Tajiksitan, Afghanistan and Pakistan used to trade with each other," Dad tells AFP. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan ended most such interactions. But the route between Wakhan and Hunza survived, he says, largely because trails such as the Irshad Pass are one of the few ways in and it is mainly those with a historic connection that dare to travel them. "The people on both sides of the border share the same culture, the same language and kinship, which is an added advantage," Dad explains. Land time forgot As Baig reaches the first settlement in Wakhan, men and women rush to him. The men hug him and take the reins of his horse while the women kiss his hands, a traditional greeting of the Wakhi tribe. "Did you bring me the buttons that I asked you for last year," one woman asks eagerly as she serves him tea. An Afghan Wakhi family barters jewellery from a Pakistani trader in the Wakhan Corridor in northern Afghanistan The women of the Wakhan Corridor have a strange relationship with time: many of them do not know how old they are, but plastic watches brought by the traders are their most cherished ornaments. Brightly coloured objects -- from plastic buttons and bottles to nail clippers -- can all be sewn onto women´s clothes as decoration. One woman already wearing four plastic watches on one arm asks Baig if he has any more. "I need some for the other arm, may be three or four," she says. The woman´s family trade a yak, a packet of butter and four sheep for buttons, watches, six pairs of socks and some woolen hats. Two other yaks are given on credit. A male member of the family will travel to Hunza this year and return with flour and rice. He explains: "This is based on trust (that) has existed as long as the trade itself."
  6. Lahore High Court - File photo LAHORE: The Lahore High Court has been requested to discontinue and ban the screening of Bollywood movie Padmaavat as it portrays the history of Muslims in the subcontinent in a ?wrong and distorted way?. A petition submitted to the court states that the role of Muslims was shown in a negative way and that the story of Padmaavat touches the sensitivity of Islam. ?The director not only distorted the facts but also transcended the limits of expression and exhibition of the movie in Pakistan,? the petition states. The petition also objects to the portrayal of Muslim ruler Alauddin Khilji, stating that he has been shown as a beast in the movie, but the reality ?is quite different?. According to the petitioner, the movie also violates Section 6 of The Motion Picture Ordinance, 1979. Under the section, a film shall not be certified for public exhibition if it damages the glory of Islam or the integrity, security or defence of Pakistan, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality. Moreover, the petitioner has also stated that the movie badly affected the minds of his minor sons, whom he took along to watch Padmaavat, as they had read the history otherwise. Therefore, the petitioner has requested the court to make sure the movie screening is discontinued across the country. The film, Padmaavat, revolves around Rani Padmavati, who is known for her beauty in the 13th century India. She becomes the obsession of Alauddin Khilji, the ruler of Delhi.
  7. Most of our friends are bhukkads (so are we) and would never ever spare a chance to get a free treat. It doesn't have to be a new job or your birthday, even getting a tinder date or getting kicked out of class can classify as an occasion for a treat. C'mon looting friends is a part of the bro-code! But the point is, now you really don't have to think twice about splurging on your buddies. Dineout's Great Indian Restaurant Festival is here until the 28th of Feb, and you can let them hog to their hearts and still not go broke! Confused? Well, if you go to any of these restaurants, you get a flat 50% on food, drinks and buffet. Yes. For real. Check it out: 1. Social A post shared by Social - Café / Co Working (@socialoffline) on Nov 15, 2017 at 3:15am PST Location: Delhi, Bangalore & Mumbai This quirky, urban hangout is perfect to chill with friends. Their theme-based menu is loaded up for all sort of foodies. Be it English/Indian breakfast, Chinese, Goan, North Indian, or even Parsi; there's a lot to choose from! Also, the ambience in each Social is amazing and unique. For instance, it resembles a school in Odeon Social and looks like a Mumbai chawl in Cyberhub Social etc. If you guys want to just eat, drink and have fun, this place is your go-to spot. 2. Biergarten A post shared by Biergarten (@biergartenbangalore) on Dec 12, 2016 at 3:24am PST Location: Bangalore If you love spending quality time with your friends - having those long conversations about life and reminiscing memories, this relaxed outdoor ambience is perfect. Moreover, they serve Chinese, Continental, and European delicacies which are affordable and delicious. Situated right near the tech parks in Whitefield, it's a great place to go after office-hours and enjoy a fulsome meal along with a few mugs of beer. 3. Chili's American Grill And Bar A post shared by Chilis India- West & South (@chilisindia) on Jul 4, 2017 at 4:33am PDT Location: PAN India If your friends are serious junk-food lovers who go crazy with cheese, you can take them to Chili's American Grill & Bar. This casual dining place serves a wide variety of appetizers, soups and chilli, salads, burgers, sandwiches, quesadillas, chicken and seafood entrees, fajitas, ribs, steaks and desserts prepared using the authentic Meso-American style of cooking. Cool, isn't it? 4. SodaBottleOpenerWala A post shared by SodaBottleOpenerWala (@sbowindia) on Dec 14, 2017 at 11:20pm PST Location: Mumbai If you guys want to go old-school in 'Bombay', SodaBottleOpenerWala is the place! They serve some really cool dishes with quirky names, which will actually take you guys down memory lane giving you a good laugh along with its Parsi swaad. Even the ambience showcases the real legacy of the Bombay Irani Café and bar - it's humorous, colonial and extremely witty. And of course, it's Instagram-worthy too! 5. The Irish House A post shared by The Irish House (@theirishhouseindia) on Dec 22, 2017 at 9:23am PST Location: PAN India This rustic resto-pub is great for a guy's night out! Let's start with the food and drinks- they've got a variety of brews and an exclusive variety of American and Continental delicacies. If that's not enough, they have Live music performances and DJ Nights too, moreover, the place also provides sports screening facility to all. Now, who wants to watch a match at home when there's a friend treating you to all this, right? 6. Bombay Brassiere A post shared by Bombay Brasserie (@bombaybrasserie_in) on Aug 25, 2017 at 11:36pm PDT Location: Mumbai, Kolkata & Bangalore If you have a gang of friends who are in a mood for desi, homely dishes, this place is ideal. Along with a relaxing and awesome ambience, they have an extensive food and bar menu serving dishes in which you can relish the flavour and spirit of traditional Indian cooking. Their moms will definitely thank you! 7. Flyp@MTV A post shared by FLYP@MTV (@flypatmtv) on Dec 19, 2017 at 3:57am PST Location: Delhi & Mumbai When they say 'party de yaar', you can literally throw a party (definitely, without going broke). FLYP@MTV is the perfect nightlife spot where you will get a variety of drinks and an awesome ambience. They even have a budget-friendly menu with mostly North Indian, Chinese, and Continental cuisines. For all music lovers and for people who like to groove and move, there is no better place than this. 8. Pling, Pullman At Aerocity A post shared by Pullman New Delhi Aerocity (@pullmannewdelhiaerocity) on Aug 15, 2017 at 1:37am PDT Location: New Delhi When your friends bug you to treat them at a 5-star hotel, it can sound a bit too out-of-your-league. But well, it's not. This posh restaurant, Pling, which is located in Pullman, serves European and Modern Indian cuisines that can take you on a delectable ride. The fine dining restaurant even has a well-set bar that spoils you for choice with its varied options of spirits. Especially, if you're treating your folks for a special reason, then this one's a must-visit. 9. Rainforest Restrobar A post shared by Rainforest Resto Bar (@rainforestresto) on Jan 1, 2018 at 10:29pm PST Location: Mumbai If your gang is missing some adventure, and you guys are in a mood to explore, then this forest-themed restrobar is perfect. It has a wildlife set-up that takes you to an amazing dining adventure and is paired up with an awesome outdoor seating. Also, they have dishes in the North Indian, Italian, Chinese, and Mughlai cuisines along with an array of drinks in their bar menu. 10. Hard Rock Cafe A post shared by Hard Rock Cafe India (@hrcindia) on May 3, 2017 at 3:39am PDT Location: Pune If your friends are hard-core music lovers, who love rock music over amazing American food, head over to Hard Rock Cafe. Their mocktails and cocktails are always a killer combination with the cheese-laden burgers or steaks. And if you head there on a Thursday night, you can enjoy the live band too. There's a DJ playing music on other days. 11. The Beer Cafe A post shared by The Beer Cafe (@thebeercafe) on Nov 17, 2017 at 7:50am PST Location: PAN India The name is enough to tell you about this place! They have the largest collection of draught beers to choose from along with a variety of different beers from all around the world. So if your friends want to just chill with some great beer; this is a really affordable place to treat them. 12. British Brewing Company A post shared by British Brewing Company (@bbcoindia) on Jan 27, 2018 at 2:22am PST Location: Mumbai If your friends want just want to relax, watch sports, eat and drink like a fish, the British Brewing Company is a great bet. This resto-bar serves a wide array of drinks and finger food from their Multi-Cuisine menu including a variety of Italian, Chinese, and Continental delicacies. And of course, their brewery has a great variety of beer and cocktails to offer too. So you see, you really don't need a reason to celebrate, thanks to Dineout! They are giving everyone a huge reason to dine out - a whopping flat 50% discount on food, drinks and buffet at India's top 2000+ restaurants as a part of the Great Indian Restaurant Festival. Restaurants range from the top standalone brands in each of the 8 cities as well as certain 5-star dining restaurants. All you need to do is head to Dineout and buy a deal worth Rs. 50! Choose from the 3 deal buckets- food, drinks or buffet. There will be special menus available at select restaurants. What's more? If you use Airtel Payments Bank, you will get a 100% cashback on the booking fee. On top of this, you can get 50% off the menu price of Pepsi at 400 select GIRF participating restaurants across 8 cities. And how about getting a complimentary drink for each guest at 100 select GIRF participating restaurants across 5 cities? The Great Indian Restaurant Festival lasts for the entirety of February and the bookings are on. Also, don't miss the chance to loot your friends too!
  8. A man walks past a poster of the Bollywood movie 'Padmavati' outside a theatre in Mumbai, India, November 21, 2017. REUTERS/ Danish Siddiqui/Files MUMBAI: A controversial Indian movie that has angered Hindu extremists finally opens on Thursday amid heightened security owing to fears of widespread riots. Police are on high alert across several states after protesters pledged to disrupt the release of Padmaavat ? a Bollywood epic about a mythical Hindu queen. Radical groups say the film will portray queen Padmavati falsely, a claim producers vehemently deny and have threatened to attack any cinema that shows it. Violent protests ? which have been going on for over a year ? escalated this week with hundreds of demonstrators rampaging through the streets of Ahmedabad. Several hundred people attacked shops, set alight dozens of motorbikes and damaged more than 150 cars across the city in Gujarat state, according to police. In Noida, near the capital New Delhi, activists burned toll booths on a highway after a rally, while, in Rajasthan state, women carrying swords marched against the movie. In Mumbai ? the home of India?s Hindi-language film industry known as Bollywood ? Hindu protesters set car tyres on fire during an angry demonstration late Tuesday. The following day Mumbai police rounded up 50 people affiliated to a hardline group that has been at the forefront of protests as they cracked down ahead of Thursday?s release. "We are providing security arrangements to all multiplexes and single screen theatres showing the movie," Mumbai police spokesman Deepak Deoraj told AFP. "We will be patrolling the entire city and will have reserve forces deployed to prevent any flare-ups until the issue is resolved," he added. Fanatical groups belonging to India?s Rajput caste ? who revere Padmavati ? have been leading the protests which have picked up supporters from other Hindu groups. Box office hit Opponents claim the movie will feature a romantic liaison between Padmavati and 14th-century Muslim ruler Alauddin Khilji despite repeated denials by filmmakers. The movie?s producers say the film celebrates Rajputs, who were traditionally warriors. The protesters insist the movie distorts history, even though experts say the queen is a mythical character and that her story is based on a poem written over a century later. Trouble first hit the movie in January last year when Rajput Karni Sena members attacked the film?s director Sanjay Leela Bhansali and vandalised the set during filming in Rajasthan. Members of the fringe group have threatened to attack cinemas, including with swords, on Thursday while hundreds of women have said they are ready to perform a mass self-immolation if screenings go ahead. Hardliners have also offered bounties of up to 50 million rupees ($769,000) to anyone who "beheaded" lead actress Deepika Padukone or Bhansali. Several states ? including Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab ? tried to ban the film but India?s Supreme Court has ruled that this would violate creative freedoms. Padmaavat stars Shahid Kapoor as Maharawal Ratan Singh, the husband of Padmavati, and Ranveer Singh as Khilji who leads an invasion to try to capture the queen. It was initially due to hit screens on December 1 but filmmakers pushed back the release date and earlier this month India?s censor board cleared it with five changes. Many distributors are refusing to exhibit the film due to the threats of violence but industry watchers still expect it to be a hit at the box office. "The movie will make 1 billion rupees (15.7 million) over the long weekend from Thursday to Sunday despite the protests," trade analyst Akshaye Rathi told AFP, referring to India?s Republic Day holiday Friday.
  9. Smokers should not be fooled, in other words, into thinking that a few cigarettes a day -- or even just one -- carries little or no long term harm. Photo: file1 PARIS: Just one cigarette a day carries nearly half the risk for heart attack and stroke as smoking a full pack of 20, according to a large-scale study published Thursday. "If someone smokes one cigarette instead of 20 per day, intuitively we´d think that the risk drops to 1/20, or five percent," said lead author Allan Hackshaw, a professor at University College London, whose paper analysed 141 previous studies. "This seems to be the case for lung cancer, but is not true for heart attacks and stroke, where one cigarette per day carries around 50 percent of the risk of a pack a day," he told AFP. Smokers should not be fooled, in other words, into thinking that a few cigarettes a day -- or even just one -- carries little or no long term harm, he added. "Whilst it is great that smokers try to cut down -- and they should be positively encouraged to do so -- in order to get the big benefits on cardiovascular disease they need to quit completely," he said by email. Tobacco kills about seven million people worldwide every year, according to the World Health Organization. About two million of those deaths are due to cardiovascular disease, mainly coronary heart attacks and stroke. Earlier research suggested that smoking a few cigarettes a day was linked to a higher-than-expected risk of heart disease, but findings were inconclusive. Risk higher than expected To probe deeper, a team of scientists led by Hackshaw analysed the results of 141 studies, estimating the relative risk of one, five or 20 cigarettes a day. They found that men who lit up once a day had 46 percent of the excess risk of heart disease associated with smoking a full pack a day, much higher than expected. For strokes, the excess risk was 41 percent. For reasons that are not fully understood, the risk for women was somewhat smaller -- 31 and 34 percent, respectively. "It could be a mixture of biological difference and differences in lifestyle," said Hackshaw. Overall, long-term smoking shortens life expectancy by 12-15 years. "This well conducted study confirms what epidemiologists have suspected but few among the public have," commented University of Oxford professor Paul Aveyard, who was not involved in the research. "The implication is obvious -- anyone who smokes should stop." At the same time, he added, it would be wrong to conclude that cutting down is useless. "There is more reason to believe that lower cigarette consumption will reduce the risk of chronic lung disease and lung cancer, the other two big causes of early death from smoking," he said via Britain´s Science Media Centre.
  10. The scene of shooting in Marshall County High School, Benton, Kentucky, US, January 23, 2018. Reuters TV/CBS /via REUTERS1 BENTON: A 15-year-old boy opened fire with a handgun inside his high school in rural western Kentucky on Tuesday, killing two fellow students and wounding a dozen other youths before he was arrested, the state?s governor and police said. The shooting began shortly before 8 AM CST at Marshall County High School in Benton, a small farming town about 210 kilometres (130 miles) northwest of Nashville, Tennessee, according to Kentucky State Police and Governor Matt Bevin. Authorities declined to discuss possible motives for the shooting. There was no immediate indication of how well the suspect knew the victims, but officials said he was believed to have acted alone and faces multiple charges of murder and attempted murder. ?There?s no good answer for it,? Bevin told reporters at a news conference. ?There?s 1,000 hypotheses we?re not going to go into.? The bloodshed at the school, where nearly 1,150 students are enrolled, was the latest outbreak of gun violence that has become a regular occurrence at schools and college campuses across the United States over the past several years. Tuesday?s rampage occurred just 52 kilometres (32 miles) from Heath High School in West Paducah, Kentucky, where, in 1997, a 14-year-old boy opened fire on a group of students, killing three. At Marshall County High, 14 students were hit by gunfire, two of them fatally, officials said. A 15-year-old girl was pronounced dead at the scene, and a 15-year-old boy died at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center?s trauma unit in Nashville, Bevin and hospital officials said. Four of the other gunshot patients brought to Vanderbilt were expected to survive, doctors said. Less severely wounded students were taken to nother hospitals in the area. Another five students suffered non-gunshot injuries, Bevin said, bringing the total number of injured to 17. The 15-year-old suspect walked into the school armed with a handgun and started shooting, Kentucky State Police Commissioner Richard Sanders said at the news conference. Bevin said the youth was apprehended at the school ?in a nonviolent? manner, but the governor did not elaborate. Sanders said students followed training they had recently received from state police in how to respond to such incidents. No further details of the circumstances of the shooting were immediately released by authorities. None of the students involved were being publicly identified, Bevin said. Agents from the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Federal Bureau of Investigation joined in the investigation, officials said at the news conference. The school serves Marshall County, which has a population of about 31,000. During the news conference at the county Board of Education, Bevin paused to collect himself as his voice choked with emotion, asking members of the news media to exercise restraint in dealing with the families of victims. ?I beg of you again ? respect the fact that these children belong to this community and to specific families in this community. And this is a wound that is going take a long time to heal. And for some in this community it will never fully heal.? White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said President Donald Trump had been briefed on the shooting, adding, ?Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and the families there.?
  11. DUBAI: The International Monetary Fund on Monday raised its growth projection for the deficit-hit Saudi economy on the back of higher oil prices but retained its estimates for the region. In its World Economic Outlook update, the IMF said the Saudi economy -- which shrank 0.7 percent last year -- is expected to grow by 1.6 percent in 2018, up 0.5 percent on its October estimates. The Saudi economy is also projected to grow by 2.2 percent next year, up 0.6 percent on the previous estimate, it said. The IMF however maintained its October projections for growth in the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan (MENAP) region at 3.6 percent and 3.5 percent for this year and 2019, respectively. "While stronger oil prices are helping a recovery in domestic demand in oil exporters, including Saudi Arabia, the fiscal adjustment that is still needed is projected to weigh on growth prospects," the IMF said. It said oil prices rose 20 percent between August and October of last year. The Saudi economy, the largest in the region, contracted last year for the first time since 2009 when it dove into negative territory due to the global financial crisis. The kingdom has posted budget deficits in the past four fiscal years since oil prices began to plunge. It is projected to remain in the red until 2023. Riyadh has introduced a series of austerity measures to boost non-oil income, raising the prices of fuel and power, imposing fees and charges on expatriate labour and introducing a value-added tax (VAT) of five percent. Economic growth in the oil-dependent Gulf states has plummeted due to a sharp drop in oil revenues.
  12. Tourists who came to Battery Park in lower Manhattan hoping to catch a ferry to the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor got an unpleasant surprise on Saturday, learning the must-see destination was closed because of the U.S. government shutdown. Photo: Reuters NEW YORK: Tourists who came to Battery Park in lower Manhattan hoping to catch a ferry to the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor got an unpleasant surprise on Saturday, learning the must-see destination was closed because of the US government shutdown. The National Park Service announced on Friday afternoon that it would close the historic statue and nearby Ellis Island to visitors if Congress failed to reach a funding deal by midnight. Apparently, not everyone got the word. ?If they knew it was being shut down, they should have told us,? said Amparo Mendez, 17. The Argentine exchange student came to Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan with a friend, having purchased tickets online last week to visit the statue and Ellis Island. ?We came with the notion to see the Statue of Liberty, and it?s not the same to see it from here,? said her 16-year-old friend, Brunella Pettoroso, looking out at the majestic, green-tinged statue, a symbol of American democracy. Neither of them were aware of the government shutdown, and when the Washington deadlock was explained to them, Mendez rolled her eyes. ?We?re not coming back,? Pettoroso said. In Washington, open-air parks and monuments remained open despite the shutdown. On the National Mall, thousands of protesters gathered for the second annual Women?s March, staged on the first anniversary of President Donald Trump?s inauguration. The Smithsonian Institution was open as well, but its museums and the National Zoo will close on Monday if lawmakers still have not reached a deal, it said in a statement. Dallas Kay, 26, a restaurant worker from Bend, Oregon, arrived at the Lincoln Memorial just after dawn on Saturday. He said he hoped for a quick resolution of the dispute, especially to keep national monuments and parks open. ?These monuments and parks belong to the people,? he said. ?Them getting shut down is a travesty.? In Battery Park, where large groups of visitors often gather for ferry ride to the Statue of Liberty, it was unusually quiet for a Saturday. ?People have been a little bummed out but they?re not mad at us,? said Matthew Rutter, an employee of Statue Cruises, which operates ferries to the islands, among New York?s most popular tourist destinations. ?They are mad at the government.? Stephen O?Malley, a retired medical professional from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, bought tickets months ago, when he and his wife, accountant Mary Hawks, began planning a trip to the statue and Ellis Island, the gateway for millions of U.S. immigrants in the late 19th and 20th centuries. The couple both blamed Washington lawmakers. ?I have to put more blame on the Republicans because they have all the control right now,? O?Malley said. ?But I don?t blame it all on them. They should have been able to make a deal,? he said of both Republicans and Democrats, before heading off to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Andrew Riano, 25, of New York City?s Staten Island borough, was in Battery Park dressed as the Statue of Liberty. He said he gets tips from tourists who pose for pictures with him. But the regular crowds he sees on sunny weekend days were nowhere to be found. ?A lot of people are disappointed,? he said, taking a break on a park bench. ?They pay to go to the statue and they can?t go.? That was the case with Ateeb Iftikhar, 31, and his wife, Komal, 26, from Karachi, Pakistan. The couple brought their 5-month-old baby to Battery Park, hoping to visit Lady Liberty. ?I was wanting so much to get married and come here with my husband and see the Statue of Liberty,? the young mother said. ?I?m a little sad.?
  13. A sign announcing the closure of the Statue of Liberty, due to the US government shutdown, sits near the ferry dock to the Statue of Liberty at Battery Park in Manhattan, New York, US, January 20, 2018. Photo: Reuters NEW YORK/WASHINGTON: Tourists who came to Battery Park in lower Manhattan hoping to catch a ferry to the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbour got an unpleasant surprise on Saturday, learning the must-see destination was closed because of the US government shutdown. The National Park Service announced on Friday afternoon that it would close the historic statue and nearby Ellis Island to visitors if Congress failed to reach a funding deal by midnight. Apparently, not everyone got the word. ?If they knew it was being shut down, they should have told us,? said Amparo Mendez, 17. The Argentine exchange student came to Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan with a friend, having purchased tickets online last week to visit the statue and Ellis Island. ?We came with the notion to see the Statue of Liberty, and it?s not the same to see it from here,? said her 16-year-old friend, Brunella Pettoroso, looking out at the majestic, green-tinged statue, a symbol of American democracy. Trump laments 'nice present' of shutdown on inauguration anniversary Essential services and military activity will continue, but hundreds of thousands of public sector workers will be sent home without wages Neither of them were aware of the government shutdown, and when the Washington deadlock was explained to them, Mendez rolled her eyes. ?We?re not coming back,? Pettoroso said. In Washington, open-air parks and monuments remained open despite the shutdown. On the National Mall, thousands of protesters gathered for the second annual Women?s March, staged on the first anniversary of President Donald Trump?s inauguration. The Smithsonian Institution was open as well, but its museums and the National Zoo will close on Monday if lawmakers still have not reached a deal, it said in a statement. Dallas Kay, 26, a restaurant worker from Bend, Oregon, arrived at the Lincoln Memorial just after dawn on Saturday. He said he hoped for a quick resolution of the dispute, especially to keep national monuments and parks open. ?These monuments and parks belong to the people,? he said. ?Them getting shut down is a travesty.? In Battery Park, where large groups of visitors often gather for a ferry ride to the Statue of Liberty, it was unusually quiet for a Saturday. ?People have been a little bummed out but they?re not mad at us,? said Matthew Rutter, an employee of Statue Cruises, which operates ferries to the islands, among New York?s most popular tourist destinations. ?They are mad at the government.? Stephen O?Malley, a retired medical professional from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, bought tickets months ago, when he and his wife, accountant Mary Hawks, began planning a trip to the statue and Ellis Island, the gateway for millions of US immigrants in the late 19th and 20th centuries. The couple both blamed Washington lawmakers. ?I have to put more blame on the Republicans because they have all the control right now,? O?Malley said. ?But I don?t blame it all on them. They should have been able to make a deal,? he said of both Republicans and Democrats, before heading off to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Andrew Riano, 25, of New York City?s Staten Island borough, was in Battery Park dressed as the Statue of Liberty. He said he gets tips from tourists who pose for pictures with him. But the regular crowds he sees on sunny weekend days were nowhere to be found. ?A lot of people are disappointed,? he said, taking a break on a park bench. ?They pay to go to the statue and they can?t go.? That was the case with Ateeb Iftikhar, 31, and his wife, Komal, 26, from Karachi, Pakistan. The couple brought their 5-month-old baby to Battery Park, hoping to visit Lady Liberty. ?I was wanting so much to get married and come here with my husband and see the Statue of Liberty,? the young mother said. ?I?m a little sad.?
  14. [embed_video1 url=http://stream.jeem.tv/vod/87bfe1614cb30d9e49b96ee8a554e7e3.mp4/playlist.m3u8?wmsAuthSign=c2VydmVyX3RpbWU9MS8xMy8yMDE4IDU6NDM6MzAgQU0maGFzaF92YWx1ZT1lclpub3NWMy82dk13M2QvTzZPMFFBPT0mdmFsaWRtaW51dGVzPTYwJmlkPTE= style=center] KARACHI: Chief Justice Saqib Nisar has summoned a meeting today (Saturday) on reforms in the country?s judicial system, which will be attended by chief justices of all four high courts. The meeting will be held in the Supreme Court?s Karachi registry. Another meeting of the judicial reforms committee held on Thursday in the Supreme Court?s Islamabad registry was attended Justice Nisar, Chief Justice Lahore High Court Justice Mansoor Ali Shah and other officials. Justice Nisar in the meeting apprised the chief justice of steps taken for reforms in the Punjab?s judicial system. These included the use of advance technology, training of lower court judges on alternate methods for resolution of conflicts, and speedy hearing of cases. Wide-ranging reforms introduced in Punjab judiciary: LHC CJ There were more than 1.2 million cases pending in Punjab, says chief justice Punjab Justice Mansoor on January 8 had said that judicial reforms would be launched from next week, but warned that ?nobody should say then that [the judiciary] is interfering or encroaching.? He made the remarks while hearing a suo motu case regarding cutting of trees on Margalla Hills. ?Who is responsible for making laws around the world?? the CJP enquired from state Minister for Capital Administration Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry while hearing a case on the failure of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to develop rules and regulations. ?What reforms did the parliament introduce? We will bring reform in the judicial system,? the CJP remarked, adding that the reform would begin from next week. ?But this is not our job. Nobody should say then that we are interfering or encroaching,? CJP Nisar stated. During the previous hearing of the case, CJP had remarked that ?we are not fond of judicial activism in any way. But we will take action on negligence of duty at every cost. We are aware of our powers and we will not go beyond them.?
  15. The Jagger & Lewis emotional and activity tracker for dogs is seen at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show. Photo: AFP LAS VEGAS: Technology is going to the dogs. And to cats and horses, for that matter, as high-end gadgetry showcased at this week´s Consumer Electronics Show offered ways that smart devices can improve the lives of animals and their human friends -- starting with a good night´s rest. US-based Petrics was at the show with what it billed as the first pet smart bed, capable of keeping tabs on their weight and time spent lounging. The soon-to-be-released bed cools or warms to provide comfy temperatures for naps, and synchronises to activity trackers that monitor how much exercise they are getting so that owners get a complete daily report. An array of firms meanwhile showed off wearable devices to monitor pets on the move, aiming to consign neighbourhood "lost" posters to history. Among them was Whistle, which is up to a third-generation device equipped with GPS and mobile network capabilities. Custom "safe zones" can be set up around a home and if pets wander out-of-bounds their humans will get smartphone messages allowing them to pinpoint where their pooch, or kitty, is on the map. "If your pet gets out they can be missing for hours or days," said Whistle spokesperson Heather Wajer. "You can put up posters around the neighbourhood and search for them, or you can just look at your phone and see where they are." Fido calls home Leaving your pet behind at home can cause anxiety both for humans and their animals. While home cameras that can stream feeds via the internet have been around for some time, Petcube has improved on the basic concept by introducing "smart" elements. With the help of artificial intelligence, pets movements in front of its camera will trigger a video call to their human´s phone as well as a preview "pet selfie" clip. Its device also comes with laser pointers allowing people to remotely play with their furry friends if they´re getting bored, and even reward good behaviour by firing off treats during calls. Petcube co-founder and chief executive Yaroslav Azhnyuk estimated that 40 million households will use connected pet devices by the year 2022. Meanwhile, startup Pebby is working on a "smart robotic ball" with built-in camera, wi-fi, Bluetooth and laser pointer capabilities, affording more opportunities to play remotely. Taking care of kitty´s business Cleaning your feline friend´s litter box is an unpleasant but necessary task, unless you (and house guests) are prepared to stomach a strong stench. Now, though, automated boxes are at hand that use sensors to detect when the animal enters and leaves the unit, before giving the litter time to clump, then sifting through it and depositing the waste into a carbon-filtered drawer. Litter-Robot sales hit new highs on Black Friday and Cyber Monday due to the release of a smartphone application that gets data about kitty´s daily visits to the feline loo, according to founder Brad Baxter. When animals left home alone need to get outside to take care of business, they can now do so through PetWALK pet doors -- sturdy barriers that are more secure and airtight than flaps, and are automatically triggered by RFID pendants. French saddle maker CWD meanwhile was at CES with what it billed as the first smart saddle tailored for the equestrian sport of jumping. Technology in saddles gathers data about stride, approach, recovery and more, then sends it to smartphones and pairs it with video so riders can improve performance, research and development engineer Camille Hebert told AFP. CWD has partnered with French start-up Arioneo to weave in an "iPulse" strap that adds data about a horse´s heart rate. "Everything in our lives is smart," said Whistle´s Wajer. "If technology can help make our pets lives better, than that is fantastic."
  16. Bisaria will leave Islamabad for New Delhi today India?s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has summoned Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan Ajay Bisaria to hold consultations over the matter of family reunion of spy Kulbhushan Jadhav. Bisaria will leave Islamabad for New Delhi today. India has alleged that Jadhav?s family was harassed while they were visiting him in Pakistan. Swaraj claimed that the visit was used by Pakistan for propaganda purposes. On December 25, Jadhav?s mother and wife met him at the Pakistani Foreign Office in Islamabad. The meeting was allowed by Pakistan on humanitarian grounds. Jadhav confessed to his role as an Indian spy and terrorist during the meeting with his family, according to reports in the Indian media. Indian FM alleges spy Jadhav?s family was harassed Sushma Swaraj says if there was a camera in Jadhav's wife's shoes, it should have been displayed to the media During the meeting with his mother Avanti and wife Chetna on December 25 in Islamabad, Jadhav admitted he was an Indian spy and had engineered a spate of terror attacks on Pakistani soil. The meeting lasted almost 40 minutes, the Pakistan Foreign Office said. Indian diplomats, including Deputy High Commissioner JP Singh, accompanied Jadhav's family and were present during the meeting, which was conducted in a specially prepared room via an intercom through a glass partition. Comprehensive security check was necessary, FM Asif on Jadhav's family meeting Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif on Thursday categorically rejected all Indian allegations regarding Jadhav's meeting with his family, saying that a comprehensive security check was necessary, which was earlier agreed upon by both the sides through diplomatic channels. He said the visitors were treated with dignity and respect, adding that the change of clothes and removal of jewelry were entirely for security reasons. ?The visitors changed into their own clothes after the meeting. All their belongings were returned to them before they left. The wife's shoes were retained as they did not clear the security check. A metal chip has been found in one of the shoes, which is being analysed,? said the statement.
  17. A general view of the Amuay refinery complex ? which belongs to the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA ? in Punto Fijo, Venezuela, November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Files NEW YORK: Oil prices dipped on Thursday but stayed close to their highest in 2-1/2 years, as data showed strong demand for crude imports in China and on increased refining activity in the United States that drew more crude from inventories. Trading was typically thin at year end, with many traders on vacation. The US Energy Department said crude stocks fell 4.6 million barrels in the latest week. Inventories excluding the nation?s strategic reserve have declined more than 11 percent in the last year. US refining runs increased, pushing overall capacity use among the nation?s refiners to 95.7 percent ? the highest in December dating to 1998 ? according to the US Energy Department. Refiners have profited in recent months as the spread widened between US crude and Brent futures prices. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures slipped 13 cents to $59.51 a barrel as of 11:35 AM EST (1635 GMT), a day after briefly touching $60 a barrel. Brent crude futures fell 11 cents to $66.33 a barrel. This week, WTI broke through $60 a barrel for the first time since June 2015, while Brent breached $67 for the first time since May 2015. A Reuters monthly poll showed analysts expect Brent crude to stay close to $60 in 2018. Oil markets have tightened after a year of production cuts led by Middle East-dominated Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia. OPEC cuts kicked off last January and are scheduled to continue throughout 2018. Countering those cutbacks, US oil production has soared more than 16 percent since mid-2016 and is approaching 10 million BPD, trailing only OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia and Russia. In the most recent week, US production dipped modestly to 9.75 million BPD from 9.79 million BPD the previous week. In early trade, prices were supported by China?s release of strong import quotas for 2018. China?s crude inventories in November hit a seven-year low of 26.15 million tonnes, Xinhua data showed. Pipeline outages in Libya and the North Sea have also supported prices. Libyan oil supplies were disrupted by an attack on a pipeline this week and the flows towards the port of Es Sider were reduced by about 70,000 BPD on Thursday. In the North Sea, the 450,000 BPD capacity Forties pipeline system was shut this month after a crack was found. Both pipelines are expected to return to normal operations over the new year or in early January.
  18. SHANGHAI: China's yuan strengthened through the day in holiday-thinned trading on Monday, reaching its highest level in three-and-a-half months against the US dollar at the official local close, following a much strengthened official midpoint. The spot market opened at 6.5745 per dollar and, by the 0830 GMT domestic close, settled at 6.5404, the strongest such close since Sept. 13. If the yuan closes at the level in the night trading session, it would have gained around 0.55 percent of its value from the previous late night close of 6.5765 per dollar last Friday. Its offshore counterpart also followed Monday's trend and was changing hands at 6.5405 per dollar. Recent advances have pushed the yuan's year-to-date gains to around 6.2 percent against the dollar. It declined roughly 6.5 percent in 2016, the worst annual performance since 1994.
  19. Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto gives a speech to the media at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, November 21, 2017. REUTERS/Henry Romero/Files MEXICO CITY: Mexico has this year registered its highest murder total since modern records began, according to official data, dealing a fresh blow to President Enrique Pena Nieto?s pledge to get gang violence under control with presidential elections due in 2018. A total of 23,101 murder investigations were opened in the first 11 months of this year, surpassing the 22,409 registered in the whole of 2011, figures published on Friday night by the interior ministry showed. The figures go back to 1997. Pena Nieto took office in December 2012 pledging to tame the violence that escalated under his predecessor Felipe Calderon. He managed to reduce the murder tally during the first two years of his term, but since then it has risen steadily. At 18.7 per 100,000 inhabitants, the 2017 Mexican murder rate is still lower than it was in 2011 when it reached almost 19.4 per 100,000, the data showed. The rate has also held below levels reported in several other Latin American countries. According to U.N. figures used in the World Bank?s online database, Brazil and Colombia both had a murder rate of 27 per 100,000, Venezuela 57, Honduras 64 and El Salvador 109 in 2015, the last year for which data are available. The US rate was 5 per 100,000. Still, Pena Nieto?s failure to contain the killings has damaged his credibility and hurt his centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which faces an uphill struggle to hold onto power in the July 2018 presidential election. The current front-runner in the race, leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has floated exploring an amnesty with criminal gangs to reduce the violence, without fleshing out the idea. Mexican newspaper Reforma said on Saturday that after a campaign stop in the central state of Hidalgo on Friday, Lopez Obrador again addressed the issue when asked whether talks aimed at stopping the violence could include criminal gangs. ?There can be dialogue with everyone. There needs to be dialogue and there needs to be a push to end the war and guarantee peace. Things can?t go on as before,? Reforma quoted Lopez Obrador as saying. Such a strategy harbours risks for the former Mexico City mayor. A poll this month showed that two-thirds of Mexicans reject offering an amnesty to members of criminal gangs in a bid to curb violence, with less than a quarter in favour. The law bars Pena Nieto from seeking re-election.
  20. LAHORE: Pakistan High Commission Protocol Officer Rao Anwar was injured a day earlier (Friday) when a bus hit his vehicle in New Delhi, India. Anwar?s vehicle was in Moti Bagh area of New Delhi when a speeding bus rammed into his vehicle. Subsequently, Anwar got injuries on his head and chest. His driver was also wounded in the accident. According to the Indian media, the 45-year-old official from the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi was admitted to a private hospital in Chanakyapuri after the accident. New Delhi police arrested the accused driver, Mukesh Kumar, and filed a case against him. During interrogation, Kumar told the police that brakes of his bus had failed due to which the accident occurred. However, according to hospital sources, Anwar?s condition was out of danger.
  21. While a majority of us are always concerned about losing weight, there are people who are looking to put on a few kilos. Especially ectomorphs, have a difficult time gaining weight and muscle mass. After spending some time in the gym, they fall prey to 'desi' gym trainers who recommend them useless supplements like mass gainers. To gain weight, all you need is a well-structured diet with a few high-calorie foods. Below, are 4 food items that have high-calorie content and can easily be included in a structured diet plan to put on muscle mass. 1) Rice Easily accessible and can be prepared without any hassle, white rice is something that must show up on every eating plan. Rice takes only around 15 minutes to be cooked. One cup of cooked rice which is around 150 grams provides around 40 grams of carbs yielding around 180 calories. Such high percentage of carbs and high calories make rice a perfect food for anyone who wants to gain weight. You can add protein sources like chicken or eggs to make it chicken biryani or egg biryani which will make it a perfect meal for lunch or dinner. Nuts (And Nut Butter) Nuts are quite dense in calories and come in handy as anytime snack. You can carry them easily with you in a small container and they have a very long shelf life. The best part of nuts is that they provide you all the three macros i.e. Fats, Crabs and protein. Fats in nuts are the essential fats that your body needs to obtain from outside sources. Nuts can be added to smoothies and yoghurts as well. The only thing to keep in mind is that nut butter should be preferably free of artificial flavours and sugars. Starchy Vegetables and Carbs The quality of starchy vegetables is that they are calorie dense. The primary motive for anyone who is looking to gain weight is to increase the daily calorie intake. For this, you need to include as much calorie dense food as possible. Starchy vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans, legumes, oats, corn etc are high in calories. You should include a combination of these items in your everyday meal plan. Cheese Since seventy percent of all the cheese is fat, cheese is a high-calorie food item. Another advantage of cheese is that it has good taste and can be added to a variety of dishes. Fat has 9 calories per gram which are more than one gram of carb and one gram of protein taken together. Therefore, including a small amount of cheese in your diet is a smart move if you want to increase your caloric intake. To gain weight, you don't need supplements. You need more calories from your food. Your primary target should be to increase your daily calorie intake and enter into a caloric surplus. Neither should you have a diet too high in protein. Concentrate on a moderate protein intake, moderate fat and high carb diet. Effort should be made to avoid carbs that are artificially flavoured and processed. Anuj Tyagi is a Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Sports Nutritionist and Therapeutic Exercise Specialist From American Council on Exercise (ACE). He is the Founder of the website where he provides online Training. Though a Chartered Accountant by education, he has been closely associated with Fitness Industry since 2006. His motto is to transform people Naturally and he believes that the secret formula for Fitness is Consistency and commitment towards your Training and Nutrition. You can connect with him on Facebook and Youtube.
  22. Virtual currency bitcoin hit another all-time peak on Tuesday, two days after the launch of the first ever bitcoin futures on a US exchange and ahead of the start of another futures contract next week, as investors grew optimistic that the $20,000-mark is within reach. On Sunday, Chicago-based derivatives exchange Cboe Global Markets launched bitcoin futures, enabling investors to get exposure to the currency via a large, regulated exchange. The CME Group is expected to launch its futures contract on Dec. 17. ?We?re going to see bitcoin emerge as a payment network,? said Trevor Koverko, chief executive officer of Polymath, a securities token platform. ?Currently bitcoin is being used as a speculative asset and store of value. But as scaling solutions...emerge, bitcoin?s utility dramatically increases along with its price,? Koverko said. Bitcoin, the world's biggest and best-known cryptocurrency, was quoted at $17,310 on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange BTC=BTSP, up 5.1 percent on the day. Earlier on Tuesday bitcoin hit a record high of $17,428.42, registering a roughly 20-fold increase in its price for the year as it drew in millions of new investors. A Reuters technical analysis that measures the ups and downs in trading prices, known as waves, showed bullish momentum for bitcoin. The technical analysis suggests an extension of a wave, which could mean that bitcoin would easily surge above the psychologically important level of $20,000, according to the Reuters analysis. ?It?s remarkable how back in November $10,000 seemed like a psychological end-of-year target,? said Lukman Otunuga, research analyst at FXTM. ?With the current gravity-defying bullish momentum, it may be no surprise if bitcoin concludes 2017 on $20,000. But as bitcoin set a new record, digital currency exchange operators Coinbase and Bitfinex reported problems with service through their websites on Tuesday, frustrating traders seeking to cash in on the latest surge in the value of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. The newly launched one-month bitcoin futures on the Cboe Futures Exchange were slightly tepid, with prices generally steady and volumes about a third of those seen on Monday. Bitcoin futures maturing in January XBTF8 were at $18,450, with just 1,416 contracts traded as of late afternoon in New York, compared with 3,956 contracts on the first day. A total of $26.4 million was notionally traded so far on Tuesday, compared with around $73 million on Monday. ?The trading volume was huge yesterday as bitcoin price fluctuated in a wide range over the weekend,? said Park Nok-sun, a cryptocurrency analyst at NH Investment and Securities in Seoul. ?Now that the exchange price is relatively calm, it is obvious for futures trading volume to fall.? While market participants are still heavily divided over the digital currency?s utility, value and safety, they expect the futures contract to offer a legitimate means for institutions to bet on bitcoin. Some investors even expect the futures will offer markets an easier means to take short positions on the cryptocurrency. The futures are cash-settled contracts based on the auction price of bitcoin in US dollars on the Gemini Exchange, which is owned and operated by virtual currency entrepreneurs Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss.
  23. Cars are seen stuck in a traffic jam during snowfall in Brussels, Belgium, December 11, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir BRUSSELS: High winds and heavy snow in Europe on Monday stranded thousands of travellers, kept schoolchildren at home, and even played havoc with international diplomacy. It was the second day running of fierce weather across the continent, with Britain still digging out from its deepest snowfall in four years. The snowed-over runways in Brussels led to about 300 flight cancellations on Monday ? with Brussels airport saying the number amounted to half of those scheduled ? and some 100 delays, including for the plane carrying Israel?s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu back home. He tweeted a video from his plane that opened with a shot of the white tarmac at the close of his European visit, which was marked by the US recognising Jerusalem as Israel?s capital. A scheduled meeting between Netanyahu and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker had to be called off because of the weather, officials said. Brussels airport advised passengers to stay away, as the staff were trying to de-ice planes and clear snow from the runways. "Heavy snowfall: do not come to the airport until further notice," the airport said on Twitter, adding that passengers should check the status of their flights. Schiphol airport, just outside Amsterdam, had cancelled 430 flights by early afternoon ? about a third of all flights in or out of one of Europe?s five busiest air hubs ? while many others faced long delays. Eindhoven airport, the Netherlands? second biggest, said just after midday that "due to wintry weather conditions, the runway is currently closed". But it was not just knee-high snow that was causing trouble, with winds of up to 150 kilometres per hour (93 miles per hour) forecast along France?s Atlantic Coast. About 120,000 households were without power in France as storms that caused a ferry to run aground in Calais on Sunday continued to sweep the centre and west of the country. Brutal winds shut down ferry service between the southern Spanish port of Algeciras and Tangiers in Morocco, while also shuttering some schools in southern Spain. Hundreds of schools closed At the same time, Britain was recovering after heavy snow brought freezing temperatures, prompting the closure of hundreds of schools and disrupting flights for a second day. Power was restored to more than 100,000 homes, while airports tried to recover their schedules following this winter?s first major snowfall ? the biggest in four years. The last time Britain saw this much heavy snow nationwide was in March 2013. Newspapers were filled with pictures of people either enjoying the snow or stuck in gridlock on the roads. About 32 centimetres (12.5 inches) of snow fell in Sennybridge in south Wales on Sunday. And temperatures overnight dropped to minus 11.6 degrees Celsius (11 degrees Fahrenheit) in Northumberland, northeast England. The Western Power Distribution network said it had restored power to more than 99,500 customers, while a further 7,000 were still without electricity, largely in west-central England. But disruptions continued on the roads and at airports. London Heathrow, Europe?s busiest airport by passenger numbers, said it was still experiencing problems. "Some flights at Heathrow will be disrupted on Monday due to crew and aircraft being out of position following yesterday?s weather," it said. "We?re working with our airline partners to return aircraft to where they need to be, and full-service recovery remains the focus." Hundreds of schools were closed in western England and north Wales, while much of the country was on a yellow weather warning for snow and ice. All local authority-run schools in the central city of Birmingham were also shut.
  24. Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, US, December 1, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/Files NEW YORK: Major world stock markets advanced on Thursday and the US dollar rose to a two-week high as risk appetite returned and investors kept an eye on US political developments and awaited a key US jobs report due out on Friday. Wall Street?s main equity indexes rose, while oil prices rebounded a day after hitting two-week lows. A US tax bill moving swiftly through Congress has influenced markets in the past month, with investors hoping that deep cuts to corporate tax rates will help further drive the record-setting run in equities. US Senate Republicans agreed to talks with the House of Representatives on sweeping tax legislation on Wednesday, amid early signs that lawmakers could bridge their differences and agree on a final bill ahead of a self-imposed December 22 deadline. ?We are kind of in a cautious wait-and-see mode trying to determine what the tax policy in the US is going to yield and to what extent that might propel further growth from here,? Peter Jankovskis ? the co-chief investment officer at Lisle, Illinois-based OakBrook Investments LLC ? said. ?Obviously, we have had a very strong run in the markets here in the US in the past year and I think they are probably looking at tax policy as a key to continuing that,? Jankovskis said. Investors were also wary of US negotiations over a spending package. US President Donald Trump will face off with Democratic leaders of Congress on Thursday in a meeting intended to bridge differences over a spending bill and prevent a government shutdown. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 45.15 points (0.19 percent) to 24,186.06, the S&P 500 gained 7.34 points (0.28 percent) to 2,636.61, and the Nasdaq Composite added 45.05 points (0.66 percent) to 6,821.42. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.07 percent. Technology stocks gained in the United States and Europe after the high-flying sector had retreated in recent days. MSCI?s gauge of stocks across the globe added 0.24 percent, after declining the past two sessions. The dollar rose to a two-week high against a basket of currencies, recovering losses against the yen, on stronger risk appetite across markets. The dollar index rose 0.08 percent, with the euro down 0.07 percent to $1.1787. ?Tomorrow?s jobs report will play a significant factor in keeping the (dollar) rally alive and heightening hopes for an early 2018 rate hike,? Lennon Sweeting ? the chief market strategist at Toronto-based XE ? said. Bitcoin soared to a record high of $15,000 on the Bitstamp exchange, continuing a surge from less than $1,000 at the beginning of the year. US Treasury yields were little changed, shrugging off a report on US unemployment as investors held off on major moves ahead of the nonfarm payrolls report due out on Friday. Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 1/32 in price to yield 2.3314 percent, from 2.33 percent late on Wednesday. Oil edged higher, regaining ground from sharp losses the previous day brought on by an unexpectedly large rise in US stocks of refined fuels. US crude rose 0.89 percent to $56.46 per barrel and Brent was last at $61.92, up 1.14 percent on the day. Copper rose 0.24 percent to $6,566.00 a tonne but had yet to retrace steep declines from Tuesday?s session.
  25. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/Illustration/Files TOKYO/NEW YORK: Bitcoin extended its rally on Wednesday, breaking above $13,000 to a record high despite questions about the cryptocurrency?s real value and worries about a dangerous bubble. Bitcoin received a boost after Friday?s announcement by the main US derivatives regulator that it would allow CME Group Inc and CBOE Global Markets to list bitcoin futures contracts. The move opens the door to added regulation but also more mainstream adoption, as bitcoin futures and other derivatives would make it easier to trade the new asset class. ?Simply the perception in households around the world that the CME and the CBOE are providing legitimacy to bitcoin is really what is driving the massive rally here,? said Karl Schamotta, director of global product and market strategy at Cambridge Global Payments in Toronto. Bitcoin?s ascent of over 10-fold from below $1,000 at the start of the year has drawn regulatory scrutiny around the world. Some high profile individuals such as Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz have said the cryptocurrency should be outlawed. ?It took a long time to establish the methodology and the way bitcoin was traded. The original appeal came from the fact they were unregulated. However it?s clearly moved out of those shadows and into centre stage,? said Mick McCarthy, CMC Markets? chief market strategist in Sydney. ?We are in the throes of a bubble market, and one of the characteristics of a bubble market is that there is no way to know when the bubble will burst.? The current craze for bitcoin, and cryptocurrencies in general, have been likened by some to the 17th-century Dutch tulip mania and more recently the dotcom bubble. ?If you look at this sort of pattern it has repeated itself many, many times. The only way it ends is when sentiment shifts and that?s a deeply unpredictable thing,? Cambridge Global Payments? Schamotta said. Bitcoin was up 12.42 percent at $13,127.01 on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange after surging to the record peak of $13,127.01. ?There is a lot of money flowing into Bitcoin right now, mostly motivated by ?fear of missing out? and greed,? said Leonhard Weese, president of the Bitcoin Association of Hong Kong.