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Found 70 results

  1. LEFT: US President Donald Trump. AFP/Jim Watson; RIGHT: US Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump met on Thursday with Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, a White House official said, as he considers whether to give Yellen a new term or nominate someone else. Yellen was the fifth of five people on the president?s short list to get a formal sit-down with Trump as he considers whom to pick for Yellen?s job when her current term expires in February. The list also comprises others Trump's chief economic adviser Gary Cohn, Fed Governor Jerome Powell, former Fed Governor Kevin Warsh, and Stanford University economist John Taylor. Trump is expected to announce his decision on who to nominate by November 3 ? the day he leaves on a tour of Asia. Trump told reporters on Tuesday that he likes all five candidates. ?I?ll make a decision over the next fairly short period of time,? Trump said.
  2. KAMPALA: Two people have died from the Marburg virus in eastern Uganda, in the country´s first outbreak of the deadly Ebola-like pathogen in three years, the health ministry said Thursday. "Blood samples were taken from two people who have since died and were found positive for Marburg", Uganda´s health ministry permanent secretary, Dr Diana Atwine told AFP. She said a team of experts had been sent to Kween district, near the Kenyan border, to contain the virus. "At moment we don´t know if there are other people apart from the dead who have contracted the disease because the health experts are still investigating in addition to sensitising the population about the dangers of Marburg and we call for public vigilance," she added. One individual was a male hunter who died on September 25. His 50-year-old sister died on October 11. "The second victim had taken care of her brother during his sickness and burial preparation rituals when we suspect she contracted the disease," Health Minister Ruth Achieng said. The two are the first recorded cases of Marburg in Kween district. According to the Uganda Virus Research Institute, the first known case of Marburg in the country was in the western district of Kamwenge in 2007. A 2012 outbreak killed 10 people and in 2014 one man died. The Marburg virus is one of the most deadly known pathogens. Like Ebola, it is a haemorrhagic fever -- it causes severe bleeding, fever, vomiting and diarrhoea. It has a 21-day incubation period. Like Ebola, the Marburg virus is also transmitted via contact with bodily fluids and fatality rates range from 25 to 80 percent. The name of the disease comes from the city of Marburg in central Germany, where the virus was first identified in 1967 among workers who had been exposed to infected African green monkeys at a research lab.
  3. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivers remarks on the relationship with India for the next century at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, US, October 18, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will Pakistan next week during an Asian trip that will also take him to the country?s rival India, a senior official at the US State Department said on Wednesday. It is believed that Tillerson will be meeting top leaders of Pakistan.
  4. WASHINGTON: Over 1.1 billion people mainly in Asia and Africa lack official proof of identity that would get them access to public health care, education and finance, according to the World Bank. More than a third of these "invisible" people are children, the Bank said in a report issued for its annual meeting in Washington this week. That is particularly hard on groups of people forcibly displaced by unrest and disasters. To address the problem, the World Bank has launched its ID4D programme to expand digital identification programs in ways that can help fight poverty. The poverty-fighting institution has digital identification and civil registration projects worth more than $500 million in more than a dozen countries. It says such programmes can also help governments decrease waste and boost innovation in delivering crucial services. "We are at an exciting point of technology, collaboration and commitment converging to make unprecedented improvements in the lives of the 1.1 billion people living without identification," said World Bank Group Chief Executive Kristalina Georgieva. ID4D advisory council member Eric Jing, CEO of China´s AliBaba group payment unit Ant Financial, added that "families are left without access to health care, education and social and financial services.
  5. JERUSALEM: Israel is to advance plans for nearly 4,000 settler homes in the occupied West Bank as part of a push to greatly boost settlement growth, an Israeli official said Tuesday. The approvals are to include units in the flashpoint West Bank city of Hebron for the first time in years. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that "3,736 housing units will be approved at different stages of planning and construction". He did not give a timeframe or a precise breakdown but said the homes would be located throughout the West Bank, including in Hebron and at the Migron and Beit El settlements near Ramallah. "In total, about 12,000 housing units will be approved in 2017, at various stages of planning and construction, four times the number in 2016," the official said. Israel faced heavy criticism of settlement construction from US president Barack Obama´s administration, but that has not been the case with his successor Donald Trump. Israeli media say that a planning council is expected to meet next week to approve at least some of the plans. Haaretz daily said that if the Hebron housing is approved it would be the first time for the southern West Bank city since 2002. Hebron is home to around 200,000 Palestinians, with about 800 settlers living under Israeli army protection in several heavily fortified compounds in the heart of the city. The 1994 massacre of 29 Muslim worshippers in Hebron by Israeli-American Baruch Goldstein led to an agreement three years later giving the Palestinian Authority control over 80 per cent of the city. The settlers and about 30,000 Palestinians living adjacent to them fall under Israeli military rule. Last month, Israel gave the settlers there the authority to manage their own municipal affairs in what critics denounced as reminiscent of "apartheid". About 430,000 Israeli settlers live among 2.6 million Palestinians in the West Bank, occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War. Settlement building in the occupied West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem is considered illegal under international law. It is also seen as a major obstacle to peace as the settlements are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu´s right-wing coalition government leans heavily on settlers and their supporters to maintain its thin parliamentary majority.
  6. COX?S BAZAR: A top official of the United Nations said Saturday Bangladesh?s plan to build the world?s biggest refugee camp for over 800,000 Rohingya Muslims was dangerous because overcrowding could heighten the risks of deadly diseases spreading quickly. The arrival of more than half a million Rohingya refugees ? who have fled an army crackdown in Myanmar?s troubled Rakhine state since August 25 ? has put an immense strain on already packed camps in Bangladesh. Hard-pressed Bangladesh authorities plan to expand a refugee camp in Kutupalong near the border town of Cox?s Bazar to accommodate the Rohingya. But Robert Watkins, the UN resident coordinator in Dhaka, told AFP the country should instead look for new sites to build more camps. "When you concentrate too many people into a very small area, particularly the people who are very vulnerable to diseases, it is dangerous," Watkins told AFP. "There are stronger possibilities, if there are any infectious diseases that spread, that will spread very quickly," he said, also highlighting fire risks in the camps. "It is much easier to manage people, tackle the health situation and security if there are a number of different camps rather than one concentrated camp." On Dhaka?s request the UN?s International Organization for Migration (IOM) has agreed to coordinate the work of aid agencies and help build shelters at the new camp site. According to the IOM, the proposed camp will be the world?s largest, dwarfing Bidi Bidi in Uganda and Dadaab in Kenya ? both housing around 300,000 refugees. Three thousand acres of land next to the existing Kutupalong camp have been set aside for the project. "A camp for 700,000 is a big one... we and our partners will have our work cut out for us," Joel Millman, an IOM spokesperson, told reporters in Geneva on Friday. But he added UN agencies "wouldn?t be undertaking this if we didn?t think it was feasible". An estimated 331,000 Rohingya have already set up makeshift shelters in the area before construction begins, according to Watkins. Bangladeshi officials say the new camp will help them better handle relief operations and manage security amid fears that dispersed camps could become recruiting grounds for militants. Island relocation Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said some refugees would also be relocated to a new island, which emerged from the sea just a decade ago, where they would be provided with shelter, health and education facilities. "We have some plans about the Rohingya. No one can live the way they are living now," she told a rally in Dhaka. The Rohingya have opposed the idea of moving to Bhashan Char island ? also known as Thengar Char ? saying they will be exposed to powerful and deadly cyclones that frequently hit Bangladesh?s coastal belt. But Hasina said the government would build cyclone shelters for the refugees. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said last month that any relocation to the island should be "voluntary on the part of the refugees". This week Bangladesh reported 4,000-5,000 Rohingya were crossing the border daily. Observers believe, according to an IOM statement on Friday, that as many as 100,000 more people may be waiting to cross into Cox?s Bazar from Rakhine?s Buthidaung Township. Watkins said the continuing influx represented "a very big challenge" for aid agencies. "Just when we start to think we are getting on top of the situation, the numbers go up. We are not where we need to be right now," he said. "There is still a lot more needed to be done."
  7. US President Donald Trump speaks after meeting with police at the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department in the wake of the mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada, US, October 4, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump is expected to announce soon that he will decertify the landmark international deal to curb Iran?s nuclear program, a senior administration official said on Thursday, in a step that potentially could cause the 2015 accord to unravel. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Trump is also expected to roll out a broader US strategy on Iran that would be more confrontational. The Trump administration has frequently criticized Iran?s conduct in the Middle East. Trump ? who has called the pact an ?embarrassment? and ?the worst deal ever negotiated? ? has been weighing whether it serves US security interests as he faces an October 15 deadline for certifying that Iran is complying with its terms. ?We must not allow Iran? to obtain nuclear weapons,? Trump said during a meeting with military leaders at the White House on Thursday. ?The Iranian regime supports terrorism and exports violence, bloodshed and chaos across the Middle East. That is why we must put an end to Iran?s continued aggression and nuclear ambitions. They have not lived up to the spirit of their agreement,? he added. Asked about his decision on whether to certify the landmark deal, Trump said, ?You?ll be hearing about Iran very shortly.? Supporters say its collapse could trigger a regional arms race and worsen Middle East tensions, while opponents say it went too far in easing sanctions without requiring that Iran end its nuclear program permanently. Iranian authorities have repeatedly said Tehran would not be the first to violate the accord, under which Iran agreed to restrict its nuclear program in return for lifting most international sanctions that had crippled its economy. If Trump declines to certify Iran?s compliance, US congressional leaders would have 60 days to decide whether to reimpose sanctions on Tehran suspended under the agreement. Whether Congress would be willing to reimpose sanctions is far from clear. While Republicans ? and some Democrats ? opposed the deal when it was approved in 2015, there is little obvious appetite in Congress for dealing with the Iran issue now. The prospect that Washington could renege on the pact ? which was signed by the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China, the European Union, and Iran ? has worried some of the US allies that helped negotiate it. ?We, the Europeans, we have hammered this: the agreement is working,? said a European diplomat who asked to remain anonymous. ?We as Europeans, have repeated? it?s impossible to reopen the agreement. Period. It?s impossible.? French President Emmanuel Macron said last month there was no alternative to the nuclear accord, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). A senior Iranian diplomat told Reuters on Thursday the end result of Trump?s expected move would be to isolate the United States since the Europeans would continue to support it. ?Many foreign investors told us that they will not be scared away from Iran?s market if Trump de-certifies the deal,? the diplomat said. Trump has long criticized the pact, a signature foreign policy achievement of his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama. The administration was considering October 12 for Trump to give a speech on Iran but no final decision had been made, an official said previously. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ? a close ally of Trump ? last month said that unless provisions in the accord removing restrictions on Iran?s nuclear program over time are eliminated, it should be cancelled. ?Fix it, or nix it,? Netanyahu said in a speech at the UN General Assembly annual gathering of world leaders on September 19. Many of Trump?s fellow Republicans who control Congress also have been critical of the deal. ?Cannot abide? Trump blasted the deal in his speech to the UN General Assembly, also on September 19. ?We cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program,? Trump said, adding that Iran?s government ?masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy?. Trump is weighing a strategy that could allow more aggressive US responses to Iran?s forces, its proxies in Iraq and Syria, and its support for militant groups. Jim Mattis ? Trump?s defence secretary ? told a congressional hearing on Tuesday that Iran was ?fundamentally? in compliance with the agreement. He also said the United States should consider staying in the deal unless it were proven that Tehran was not abiding by it or that it was not in the US national interest to do so. When Mattis was asked by a senator whether he thought staying in the deal was in the US national security interest, he replied, ?Yes, senator, I do.? Last week, Iran?s foreign minister said Tehran may abandon the deal if Washington decides to withdraw. A State Department official said the Trump administration was ?fully committed to addressing the totality of Iranian threats and malign activities and seeks to bring about a change in the Iranian regime?s behaviour?. The official said that behavior includes ballistic missiles proliferation, ?support for terrorism,? support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, ?unrelenting hostility to Israel,? ?consistently threatening freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf,? cyber attacks against the United States and its allies, human rights abuses, and ?arbitrary detentions of US citizens.? ?The JCPOA was expected to contribute to regional and international peace and security, and Iran?s regime is doing everything in its power to undermine peace and security,? the State Department official added. The move also would represent another step by Trump that would undo key parts of Obama?s legacy. If Trump moves to decertify the accord, it would mark another example of walking away from international commitments as he pursues his nationalist ?America First? agenda. He previously announced plans to abandon the Paris climate accord and the ambitious 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, two key Obama achievements.
  8. Hrithik Roshan has finally released an official statement to respond to Kangana Ranaut?s allegations. Hrithik Roshan has finally released an official statement to respond to Kangana Ranaut?s allegations. The feud started four years ago when the Queen star alleged that she and Hrithik dated ever since Kites in 2009. Disputing the actress? claim, Hrithik sent her a legal notice last year after she appeared to refer to him as a 'silly ex' in an interview. A public exchange of recriminations and accusations followed. It seems like the matter is far from over yet. Referring to the media coverage of their spat a "circus", Hrithik wrote in a lengthy statement on social media, "I don't see any grace in adding to this circus by testifying in defence of my character in a situation that I have no involvement in whatsoever." His statement reads: "I have been dragged into a dirty perverse mess without a choice in the matter. This is something that is not of my making. The truth is, I have never met the lady in question one-on-one in my entire life. Yes, we have worked together, but there has been no meeting in private." "An alleged 7-year long, passionate affair between two high profile celebrities with no trail left behind. No evidence, no paparazzi pictures, no witnesses, not even a memento in possession like a selfie taken at the alleged engagement which is claimed to have happened in Paris in Jan 2014. Nothing that constitutes an exchange or any sort of proof of a romantic relationship. Yet we want to believe the other party because the rhetoric is - why would a girl lie?" He adds: "My passport details show no travel outside the country in Jan 2014, which is the date that this alleged engagement supposedly took place. In Paris. The only so-called proof presented of this alleged ?relationship?, was a photoshopped picture in the media. This was immediately exposed, the very next day by friends including my ex-wife." "There are 3000 one-sided mails which either I have sent to myself or the woman in question has sent to me. The Cyber-Crime Dept. can prove or disprove either story, in just a few days. Towards that purpose, I have surrendered all my devices including laptops / phones etc which are still lying with the cyber cell , but the other party has refused to do so. The investigation hasn?t been closed." He concludes it with: "This is not, and I repeat, not a lovers spat. I humbly request people to stop labelling it as one and, for a second, try and see it for what it really is. I have been harassed by this for 4 years and the well meaning and probably necessary social bias toward women has deemed me helpless in defending myself." In a recent interview, Hrithik's father Rakesh Roshan also spoke about the quarrel. ?The complaint is now available in the public domain and that the facts of the case will shock you," Rakesh said. After Hrithik released his statement, Kangana's lawyer Rizwaan Siddiquee refuted a few things he had spoken about earlier including the lack of evidence of their alleged affair. He said: "My client was dating Hrithik, who was a married man at that time. And the fact remains that Hrithik never allowed her to take any kind of pictures or keep any kind of data, which would suggest any kind of relationship, for a simple reason that he had to protect his image." "Kangana has fully cooperated with the law and investigating agencies and Hrithik very well knew since May 2014 that Kangana?s emails were hacked and that he was personally accused of being the hacker. On what grounds did Hrithik go on receiving unverified emails from a hacked account and did not even bother to clear his name and image of being a hacker? He meticulously saved all these emails, which were fabricated and unreliable only to create a story for later use." "Why has Hrithik always maintained that he was trying to protect Kangana all along? Why did he not bother to get these emails checked from her instead of using this against her? It?s a matter of record that till date, the emails have not been shown to my client or me as her counsel," he adds.
  9. KARACHI: Pakistan will launch its first optical remote sensing satellite into space in March 2018, a member of Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco) said Wednesday. Suparco, the national space agency, formally kicked of World Space Week activities in 16 cities across country on October 4, which will last until October 10. Speaking on the occasion, Ayaz Aziz, Suparco member Range and Instrumentation, said the country had also sent PakSat-1R into space in 2011. After the success of PakSat-1R, Pakistan will now be launching its first optical remote sensing satellite in Martch 2018, he said. Aziz said Pakistan at present is using a foreign satellite, however, after sending its remote sensing satellite in space the country will get rid of paying huge sums to foreign satellite. Suparco has been regularly conducting WSW activities each year to increase awareness of space technology and to promote its peaceful usage amongst students and the masses in Pakistan since 2005. This year, SUPARCO has extended these activities throughout Pakistan while partnering with key educational institutions.
  10. The Taj Mahal is probably one of the most recognised symbols of Indian culture all over the world. Foreign dignitaries from each and every corner of the globe make an effort to stop-over and visit the mausoleum whenever flying over this part of the world, US presidents swear by a clichéd couples photo by the bench over the monument's lawn, and many Hollywood personalities and sports superstars have the glistening tomb on their bucket list too. From Princess Diana to Mark Zuckerberg, the Taj is a popular tourist destination. It is a symbol of love and thus, the UP government's incredibly stupid move to exclude the monument from its official tourism booklet shows an unabashed religious bias. “It is like saying we will have (William Shakespeare's) 'Hamlet' without the Prince of Denmark.” – Abhishek Manu Singhvi © Twitter UP Tourism-Unlimited Possibilities (Just Not For Taj Mahal) The 32-page tourism booklet was launched by UP's tourism minister Rita Bahuguna Joshi at a press conference. It has the iconic Ganga Aarti on its cover and depicts the entire gamut of cultural hotspots all around the state, excluding, probably the most popular destination. One would entertain the thought it being an honest mistake, except it features a complete page dedicated to the Gorakhnath temple (where Yogi is the presiding priest), leaving fingerprints of an approval process that's signed by a priest, and not the CM of a state. The Gorakhnath temple, by the way, is just 8.5 km's from another acclaimed possession of Indian culture, the BRD hospital where 290 children died in August because of lack of oxygen. A meek response to this blunder from the UP government shows their unequivocal support for this kind of religious bias. A senior UP govt. official had this to say on dropping the Taj Mahal from the booklet – "This wasn't a compendium of tourist attractions in UP, merely a book highlight the works done by the incumbent government and the projects it plans to take up. The booklet finds mention of projects worth Rs 154 crore in the category of pro-poor tourism, which generate high employment," Avneesh Awasthi, director general UP tourism, told TOI. "In this category, three projects in the vicinity of the Taj Mahal have also been mentioned," he added. Despite these insufficient clarifications, the fact remains that there is no mention or even a picture of the Taj Mahal in the entire brochure. © Twitter However, the Ramayan, Krishna and Buddhist circuits, the Vindhya, Awadh, Bundelkhand, Jal Vihar, eco tourism and adventure circuits were amply included in the booklet. The minister in the conference also said that the govt. plans to develop the Jain, Sufi, freedom struggle, craft, cuisines and culture trails as a part of a bigger project. That the Taj Mahal was unjustifiably targeted and not included in the booklet seems to be more than just an honest mistake. Dumb, Saffron And Proud To understand where this deep rooted hatred for all things Islamic comes from, one need not look any further than the Chief Minister of the state – Yogi Adityanath. The CM of the most populous state in India is a hardline Hindutva fanatic and that's no big news. As recent as this June, Yogi used a public event in Bihar to give his two cents on what Indian culture is. "Ramayana and the Gita represent Indian culture, not the Taj Mahal," he had then said. The self-styled religious leader was also of the view that gifting replicas of the Taj Mahal, a mausoleum, to dignitaries is inauspicious and not a part of Indian culture. Now, no matter how stupid that line of thinking might be, it only goes on to show how Indian culture is being defined by the whims and fancies of some right-wing higher-ups in the government. © Twitter But this is not where the rot stops. It is in fact only the beginning and the deputy CM of the state is not to be left behind in this vitriol infested thought process. Last month, the deputy of the state said that Mughals were ‘plunderers' and ‘not our ancestors', thus shaming the collective intelligence of a complete generation of historians. With explanations like these, who knows maybe the CM might finally include the Taj Mahal in the UP Tourism booklet on the pretext of it being a Shiv temple once, called Tejo Mahal. But The Taj Stands Tall, For Sure We now live in a society where people vote for the Taj Mahal to become one of the Seven Wonders of the World and yet choose to ignore this shameless religious bias in the name of a Yogi. But despite the religious bias, the Taj Mahal stands tall as the symbol of love. It has an annual footfall of 62 lakh tourists and contributes around 23 percent to UP's tourism earnings. Not only is it a source of employment for thousands of people in and around the city of Agra, it is a monument that signifies India's cultural diversity. A picture in a booklet or the lack of it won't change that. © Twitter Also, no matter how much the hindutva leaders might want to distance Indian culture from our medieval past, the fact is it is an integral part of our history and no misprinted booklet is ever going to change that. In the complexity of our Indian culture, lies its true beauty and that is why monuments like the Taj Mahal are a symbol of love that the humanity is capable of. Nothing more. Nothing less. Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are that of the author and don't necessarily reflect the views of
  11. Myanmar's national security advisor Thaung Tun departs from a meeting to discuss the Rohingya situation during the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, U.S. September 18, 2017. REUTERS A top Myanmar official appealed on Monday for democracy in the country to be given ?a chance to survive? amid international anger over a military campaign against Rohingya Muslims that the United Nations has described as ethnic cleansing. Some 507,000 Rohingya Muslim have fled to Bangladesh since insurgents attacked security posts near the border on Aug. 25, triggering fierce Myanmar military retaliation. Myanmar says more than 500 people have been killed, most of them insurgents. National Security Adviser Thaung Tun told Reuters that he has spoken with his US counterpart, H.R. McMaster, on the phone and visited members of the US Congress in Washington last week. He said sanctions were not specifically discussed. The United States called last week on countries to suspend providing weapons to Myanmar?s military, but it stopped short of threatening to reimpose US sanctions, which were suspended under the Obama administration. ?We need to ensure that democracy has a chance to survive in Myanmar. This is a young democracy,? Thaung Tun told Reuters in an interview at the United Nations, noting that government leader and Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has only been in office for 18 months. Suu Kyi assumed power following a landslide election win after former military leaders initiated a political transition. For years, the United States and others imposed sanctions on Myanmar in support of Suu Kyi?s campaign for democracy. ?We have a lot of challenges and these challenges cannot be overcome in a day. Rome wasn?t built in a day. So we can?t undo 50 years of challenges,? said Thaung Tun, adding that he hoped to meet in person with McMaster, President Donald Trump?s national security adviser, to brief him on the current situation. ?NOBODY ABOVE THE LAW? A Trump administration official said last month the violence made it harder for the United States and Myanmar to build warmer ties, and there would likely be some ?easing? in the short term, but he did not expect a return to sanctions. Thaung Tun said he had not met privately with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley but had spoken to her briefly on the sidelines of other meetings in New York. The UN Security Council met publicly last week on Myanmar for the first time since 2009. Haley said the Myanmar authorities appeared to be carrying out ?a brutal, sustained campaign to cleanse the country of an ethnic minority.? She said countries should stop supplying weapons to Myanmar until the military has sufficient accountability measures. Thaung Tun said ?action has been taken against a number of policemen who exceeded their bounds in dealing with detainees.? ?We have very strict instructions for the security forces to carry out their duties within the bounds of the code of conduct,? he said. ?Nobody is above the law.? He said that ethnic cleansing or genocide was not happening in Myanmar. The Myanmar government has said that there have no military operations since Sept. 5. But Thaung Tun said that since then security forces have responded when attacked. ?Under the cover of night there have been some sporadic attacks and the police and the security people have been required to respond in self-defense,? he said. The Rohingya are denied citizenship and classified as illegal immigrants, despite claiming roots in Myanmar that go back centuries, with communities marginalized and subjected to bouts of communal violence over the years. Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed on Monday to set up a ?working group? to plan the repatriation of those who had fled.
  12. source: NST RIYADH: A Saudi education official has been sacked over a schoolbook that accidentally included a doctored photograph of a former ruler sitting next to a "Star Wars" character, triggering online ridicule. The black-and-white image shows King Faisal, Saudi Arabia's third monarch, signing the United Nations Charter in 1945, with the diminutive Jedi master Yoda perched next to him. Saudi Arabia scrambled last week to withdraw the textbook. The government has sacked Mohammad Bin Atiyah al-Harithi, the deputy education minister for curricula, saying that new versions of the textbook are being printed after the "inadvertant error". "Education Minister Ahmed al-Eissa to terminate the mandate of ... Harithi and all those responsible for reviewing and approving textbooks," the education ministry said in a statement Monday. The photo was a creation of 26-year-old Saudi artist Abdullah al-Shehri, who has gained renown for mixing pop culture icons into historic photographs. Shehri said he was surprised to see his photograph end up in the school textbook. He told the New York Times that he paired King Faisal and Yoda as they were both intelligent and because Yoda's green skin and lightsaber match the green of the Saudi flag. He stressed he had meant no offence to the king, seen widely as the architect of Saudi Arabia´s modernisation. The error prompted light-hearted banter on social media. One Saudi schoolteacher jested that this error symbolised "payback" after the education ministry introduced an extra hour of classes in schools earlier this year. "Remember when Yoda signed the United Nations charter back in 1945 with Faisal of Saudi, @starwars?" "Saudi Ministry of Education does!" one Twitter user said.
  13. Prince Harry and his girlfriend Meghan Markle made their first official public appearance together Monday, arriving hand in hand for a wheelchair tennis match at Toronto's Invictus Games. Wearing a black "Invictus Games" polo shirt and jeans, the British royal and American actress Markle -- also dressed down in jeans and a white shirt -- enjoyed the sun together as they watched the action on court. Since the 36-year-old "Suits" actress told Vanity Fair the couple are "in love," fans and the press have been eagerly awaiting an official appearance -- with onlookers scrabbling to take pictures as they were escorted into Monday's event. "We're two people who are really happy and in love," Markle told the magazine in an interview published early this month. The couple both attended the opening ceremony of the third Invictus Games -- created by Prince Harry for disabled or wounded soldiers and veterans -- on Saturday. Markle was pictured sitting a few rows behind the royal's seat next to US First Lady Melania Trump. According to his schedule, Queen Elizabeth II's grandson will stay at Markle's Toronto home for all eight days of the Games.
  14. Employees from the Independent High Electoral Referendum Commission hang banners outside a voting station ahead of tomorrow's planned referendum for the Kurdistan region, in Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, on September 24, 2017. Photo: AFP TEHRAN: Iran said Sunday it had blocked all flights to and from Iraq´s Kurdistan at the request of Baghdad, a day before the autonomous region holds an independence referendum opposed by Tehran. "At the request of the central government of Iraq, all flights from Iran to Sulaymaniyah and Arbil, as well as all flights through our airspace originating from the Kurdistan region, have been stopped," said Supreme National Security Council spokesman Keivan Khosravi, according to official news agency IRNA. The move was due to "the insistence" of Kurdistan officials in holding the referendum, Khosravi said. He did not specify how long the ban would stay in place. The vote was set to go ahead Monday despite opposition from Baghdad and its neighbours, including Tehran. Iran warned last week that independence for the region would mean an end to all of border and security arrangements. There are several regular flights from Iranian cities to the Kurdistan region. The news comes hours after Iran´s elite Revolutionary Guards began military exercises along the border with Iraqi Kurdistan. Such exercises are common in the region, due to the persistent threat posed by Kurdish separatists, who regularly carry out cross-border attacks against Iranian security forces.
  15. A group of Taliban fighters are seen in Ghazni province, Afghanistan, April 2015. Photo: Reuters KANDAHAR: The Taliban has shut down dozens of clinics in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan in the past few days, officials said, amid demands for special treatment for its fighters who control most of the embattled region. Dost Mohammad Nayab, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said authorities were talking to elders, asking them to intercede with the Taliban to allow the clinics to reopen. ?Hospitals are not places for politics and we are asking the Taliban to let our doctors and healthcare workers return,? Nayab said. Only three clinics, including the provincial hospital, were operating after the Taliban shut down 46 of the 49 treatment centres in Uruzgan since Friday, Nayab said. The Taliban were asking for special treatment for their fighters, he said. ?We have asked elders in the areas to talk to the Taliban to fix this problem,? he said. Uruzgan, which abuts the Taliban heartlands of Kandahar and Helmand, has been under intense pressure from the insurgents for years and the defences of the provincial capital Tarin Kot were briefly overrun last year. A Taliban spokesman confirmed that its fighters had closed down dozens of treatment centres but said it was done because of poor services, underlining its push to replace basic government services in many areas under its control. ?In most of these centres, there was no proper medication. There were no doctors or healthcare personnel,? the spokesman said. ?We asked repeatedly for better services but no one cared. Now if the local administration does not provide basics, we will.? The incident underlines the difficulty the Western-backed government in Kabul has in exerting control in provincial regions where the insurgency is strongest. US officials estimate that the Taliban, fighting to drive out foreign forces and impose strict Islamic law on Afghanistan, control or contest around 40 per cent of the country, although they have not taken any major provincial city. Uruzgan province was identified by US commanders as a major priority for 2017 and there has been a big focus on bolstering Afghan forces with on-the-ground US training teams.
  16. For anyone and everyone associated with the film industry, winning the Academy Award aka the Oscar is the ultimate goal. The Indian Film industry obviously doesn't like lagging behind either. Every year, The Film Federation of India appoints a committee to choose one film among those released that year to be submitted as India's official entry to the Academy as the nomination for the “Best Foreign Language Film” category. This year too, the FFI nominated one movie for the category and unsurprisingly, it's the Rajkummar Rao starrer ‘Newton'. The announcement was made by the Film Federation of India, who said the movie was selected out of 26 contenders. The movie is a political satire and follows the story of Newton Kumar, a government clerk who is sent on election duty in the conflict-ridden jungles of the Chhattisgarh, reflecting the political reality of that area. The film was premiered earlier at Berlin where it won the CICAE (International Confederation of Art Cinemas) award for best film in the forum section. It also managed to win a jury prize at the Hong Kong international film festival. However, in India the movie has just released today and has already received positive reviews from both critics as well as the audience. The news about the nomination was confirmed by Rajkummar Rao on his Twitter page. Very happy to share this news that #NEWTON is India's official entry to the #OSCARS this year. Congratulations team. — Rajkummar Rao (@RajkummarRao) September 22, 2017 Director Amit V Masurkar, in an interview, expressed his joy over the news, “We are really happy. The fact that the film is releasing today doubles the happiness. We hope that people will now really head to the cinema halls to watch the film,” the director told PTI. In a matter of a few hours, Twitter was buzzing with tweets of proud Indians who were on cloud nine after hearing the news. Huge congrats to my favourite actor @RajkummarRao for Newton n hope you win the Oscar ! Good luck . — Paresh Rawal (@SirPareshRawal) September 22, 2017 #Newton is India's entry to the Oscars. The best choice in years by the federation. — Hansal Mehta (@mehtahansal) September 22, 2017 #Newton as India's official entry to the Oscars!Congratulations @aanandlrai @RajkummarRao & team,can imagine the joy you'll must be feelingð — Akshay Kumar (@akshaykumar) September 22, 2017 #Newton is India's entry to the Oscars. The best choice in years by the federation. — Pooja Malik (@PoojaMalik2206) September 22, 2017 Legendary #Newton discovered the law of gravity & @RajkummarRao is discovering law to Oscars by his brilliant acting skills. — Belfiore Stores (@BelfioreStores) September 22, 2017 Congratulations sir. You make every character look real and that's a very rare sight in Indian cinema. #Newton — Ritesh (@IamRitzV) September 22, 2017 So glad to see such appreciation towards intelligent cinema. Congratulations @RajkummarRao #Newton — Vullary Awasthi (@vullary) September 22, 2017 So glad to know it..@RajkummarRao making proud to us ,and taking an Indian cinema one level up#Oscars #Newton #indiancinema — Rajesh Jagani ð¦ (@imRajeshBJagani) September 22, 2017 Congratulations @rajkummarrao and team #Newton! Successfully putting Indian cinema on the world map! #Oscars2018 — Durgansh Dixit (@Itsreal_DD) September 22, 2017 This #Newton not gonna wait for Apple to fall but Gonna grab it at #OSCARS "No force can stop the MOTION picture now! My best wishes ððð»ðð» — Vishal Sudarshanwar (@Vishal_Sud) September 22, 2017 Wowwww! A phenomenal actor @RajkummarRao in #Newton makes spot into #Oscars2018 Proud moment for indiaâºï¸ — Deepak Thakur (@TechDeepak7) September 22, 2017 And then there is this gem called #Newton. Pure, timely, honest, humorous, wistful and sharp. ðððð @RajkummarRao @ManMundra @Amitmasurkar — Vicky (@sundiairlifted) September 22, 2017 #NEWTON is honest and pure! Congratulations @RajkummarRao @TripathiiPankaj @ManMundra @Amit_Masurkar — Vicky (@sundiairlifted) September 22, 2017 Over the years, India has bagged three Academy Award nominations in the foreign-language category; first in 1957 with ‘Mother India', followed by 1989's ‘Salaam Bombay' and 2002's ‘Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India', however, the country has never won an Oscar. This year, Newton will face serious competition from a number of movies from across the world- Ruben Ostlund's ‘The Square' from Sweden, Fatih Akin's ‘In the Fade from Germany', Angelina Jolie's ‘First They Killed My Father from Cambodia', Sebastian Lelio's ‘A Fantastic Woman from Chile', Farhan Alam's ‘Sawan from Pakistan' and Robin Campillo's ‘BPM: Beats Per Minute from France', among others. We've got our fingers crossed as we hope that ‘Newton' does make it to the Oscar nominations and maybe, even manages to win.
  17. Pakistan Peoples Party MPA Tariq Masood Arain. Photo: File KARACHI: Police have registered a case against Pakistan Peoples Party MPA Tariq Masood Arain and his 12 armed guards over charges of attempted murder, SSP South said on Wednesday. According to the registered first information report (FIR), the provincial lawmaker's guards allegedly assaulted the security squad of Corps Commander Karachi Lt Gen Shahid Baig Mirza's family in Defence. The FIR, registered on a complaint of Havaldaar Fahimullah Jan with Darakhshan police, said that four men in a car tried to obstruct the protocol of the corps commander's family near Saba Avenue, upon which the personnel instructed them to stop in view of checking their vehicle. Jan alleged that two of the four men, Moon and Asad, called a person named Tariq, who sent two vehicles with over a dozen men armed with automatic weapons. According to the FIR, one person, identified as Manzoor, who arrived with the gunmen in a Land Cruiser threatened and beat up members of the VIP security squad. Their accomplice, later identified as Jehangir, and others, assaulted sepoys Arif, Ali Jan and the complainant. The men beat the security staffers and snatched two official weapons and two magazines, the complainant alleged, adding that he and two other members of the security squad were treated at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Complex due to serious injuries.
  18. MIAMI: Hurricane Irma killed at least 12 people in Florida when it cut a deadly path of destruction through the idyllic Key islands and deep inland in the southeastern US state, officials said Tuesday. "Currently, the number of confirmed deaths attributable to Hurricane Irma stands at 12," Florida Division of Emergency Management spokesman Alberto Moscoso told AFP, as workers picked through the rubble left by the storm.
  19. "Some of the initial estimates are ? and this is why we asked people to evacuate, largely from storm surge ? 25 percent of the houses in the Keys initially have been destroyed and 60 percent have been damaged," FEMA Director Brock Long said. MIAMI: Irma destroyed a quarter of the houses in the Florida Keys, where it first made landfall in the United States as a Category Four hurricane, the US emergency response chief said Tuesday. "Some of the initial estimates are ? and this is why we asked people to evacuate, largely from storm surge ? 25 percent of the houses in the Keys initially have been destroyed and 60 percent have been damaged," FEMA Director Brock Long said. "Basically every house in the Keys has been impacted some way or another," Long told a news conference. Keys residents were just beginning to return but most of the low-lying archipelago south of Miami remains closed to traffic as authorities assessed conditions. Aerial views and television images show extensive damage awaits them in what in normal times is a palmy haven for tourists, boaters and scuba divers. Irma made landfall Sunday on Cudjoe Key in the lower part of the Keys with winds of 130 miles (209 kilometres) per hour.
  20. The seal of the United States Department of State is seen in Washington, US, January 26, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/Files WASHINGTON: The US State Department has approved a package of potential arms sales worth more than $3.8 billion to Bahrain including F-16 jets, upgrades, missiles, and patrol boats, a US Official said on Friday. The State Department?s approval of the potential deal coincides with a notification to Congress, which held up a similar arms deal last year over human rights concerns. This proposed sales includes 19 F-16V jets ? made by Lockheed Martin Corp ? that could have a value of up to $2.7 billion, according to the official. In addition, the State Department approved the sale of two 114-feet (35-meter) patrol boats with machine guns, 221 anti-tank missiles, and $1.8 billion worth of upgrades to Bahrain?s existing fleet of F-16 jets. The official spoke on condition of anonymity. In May, US President Donald Trump said Washington?s relations with Bahrain were set to improve, after meeting with the king of the Gulf Arab state during a visit to Saudi Arabia.
  21. A screen shows the schedule times of United at Newark International airport in New Jersey, US, November 15, 2012. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/Files WASHINGTON: The US government told United Continental Holdings Inc it would not face fines after a 69-year-old man was dragged from a flight in April, a US official said on Wednesday, a decision that was criticized by a passenger rights groups. The Transportation Department notified United of its decision in a May 12 letter made public on Wednesday by passenger advocacy group Flyers Rights. A government official confirmed the authenticity of the letter, which said United did not comply with all aspects of the government?s rules on overselling seats. In April, a video went viral on social media of David Dao being dragged from a United aircraft at Chicago?s O?Hare International Airport after he refused to give up his seat to make room for a crew member. United said in a statement on Wednesday ?this incident should never have happened and we are implementing all of the improvements we announced in April, which put the customer at the center of everything we do.? The incident drew attention to the practice of ?bumping? whereby airlines deny passengers access to flights after deliberately over-booking them to ensure all seats are filled. United said it had an almost 90 percent reduction of so-called involuntary denied boardings year-over-year since May 1. Paul Hudson ? president of Flyers Rights ? said for ?the Department of Transportation to conclude that United Airlines? conduct did not warrant an enforcement action is a dereliction of duty.? He said the Transportation Department should have held a public hearing after finding United violated government rules. The Transportation Department for months repeatedly refused to disclose the status of its investigation into Dao?s dragging. ?No passenger should be treated like that,? Transportation Elaine Chao told a Senate panel in July. The department did not immediately comment on Wednesday. The government letter said United provided correct compensation for four out of five passengers on the Chicago flight but did not provide required, written oversales notices to Dao or his wife. United Chief Executive Oscar Munoz apologized at a congressional hearing in May for the removal of Dao, with whom the airline reached a settlement for an undisclosed sum. Airlines have said they routinely overbook flights because a small percentage of passengers do not show up. House and Senate bills under consideration include new passenger protections and would ban the practice of bumping boarded airline passengers.
  22. KABUL: At least 11 Afghan civilians were killed and 16 wounded on Wednesday when a NATO helicopter attacked a house where Taliban insurgents had taken shelter in Logar province, east of the capital, Kabul, the local governor said. There was no immediate confirmation that NATO or US aircraft were involved, but a spokesman for Resolute Support, the NATO-led mission in Kabul, said in an emailed statement it was aware of the reports and was looking into them. Logar Governor Halim Fedaee said the incident occurred in Dashte Bari district near the provincial capital Pul-e Alam. "The Taliban took position in a civilian house and fired a rocket at a NATO helicopter," the governor said. "The house owner begged the Taliban to leave, but they didn´t.? The helicopter took a turn, came and hit this house that caused these deaths. "The incident, a day after reports that an Afghan air strike killed at least 13 civilians in the western province of Herat, underlines the risk that a recent increase in air raids by US and Afghan forces will increase civilian casualties. United Nations figures showed a 43 per cent spike in civilian casualties from both Afghan and US air strikes in the first half of the year, with 95 killed and 137 wounded, as the pace of air operations has increased. Civilian casualties caused by US air strikes have long been a source of friction in Afghanistan, and the risk of further casualties may increase if the US steps up operations as part of President Donald Trump´s new strategy for Afghanistan. Earlier, Resolute Support denied a Taliban statement that a US helicopter had been shot down in Logar province. It said a helicopter had made a precautionary landing for a maintenance issue.
  23. Photo: FILE KANDAHAR: A Taliban suicide bomber killed at least 13 people and wounded several more in an attack on a convoy of Afghan soldiers in Helmand province late Sunday, an official said. "A suicide bomber detonated an explosive-filled car as the Afghan National Army convoy passed a small market in Nawa District of Helmand," Omar Zwak, a spokesman for the provincial governor, told AFP. He added that civilians and forces personnel were among the dead while more than a dozen others had been wounded. A source working at a nearby hospital told AFP on condition of anonymity that the bodies of 15 victims had been brought to the hospital. Another 19 injured were also admitted, he added. "The majority of the dead belong to Afghan forces and most of the wounded are civilians," the source said. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in a WhatsApp message sent to journalists.
  24. PARIS: France and Germany plan to issue a new proposal to tax internet giants so that they pay a "fair contribution" in every country where they earn money, French finance minister Bruno Le Maire said Sunday. "We will unveil a new plan along with our German partners at the next finance ministers´ meeting in Tallinn in mid-September" for taxing technology giants including Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, Le Maire said in a Facebook Live chat. "We propose taking the revenues of these large companies as a reference point, and use this to determine a tax level so that these companies pay what they should to the treasuries of every country where they make money," he said. He acknowledged, however, that similar proposals had already been made at an EU level as well as for the OECD group of developed economies, without success. "For now, these talks have stalled," Le Maire said. The internet companies have come under fire in Europe for using complex fiscal arrangements to declare profits in countries with the lowest tax rates, even when they are earned elsewhere in the bloc. Le Maire´s comments come after Google recently escaped a 1.115 billion euro ($1.33 billion) tax bill sought by the French treasury, after a court ruled that the US company´s Irish subsidiary was not taxable in France. French President Emmanuel Macron promised to get tough on US internet giants during his election campaign, seeing their low tax rates as a source of resentment about globalisation and as unfair for European companies.
  25. US State Department's senior South Asia region official Alice Wells. Photo: File The senior-most US official overseeing the South Asia region will be visiting Islamabad next week, the US State Department announced on Saturday. A statement by the department said: Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs and Acting Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Alice Wells will travel to Dhaka, Islamabad, and Colombo from August 28 to September 2. Wells is expected to meet with government officials, business leaders, and civil society representatives to discuss ?cooperation in the region?. On September 1, the official will speak at the Indian Ocean Conference in Colombo, which will bring together high-level officials from around the world to discuss peace, progress, and prosperity in the Indian Ocean region, said the statement. The conference is being attended by senior officials of the Indian external affairs ministry. Wells? visit to Islamabad will be the first by a US government official following the announcement by President Donald Trump of his new regional policy which criticised Pakistan?s role in the war against terrorism. This is said to be the second trip to Islamabad this month by Wells. During her first visit, she met Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua and discussed the situation in Afghanistan, according to the Foreign Office. She also visited New Delhi during that trip, although she is skipping India this time around.