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Found 32 results

  1. Islamabad High Court. Photo: File ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) warned on Monday that it will issue a contempt of court notice to Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and the three relevant federal ministers if the Senator Raja Zafarul Haq-led committee report is not presented in the next hearing. The committee was formed to probe the issue of the amendment in the oath regarding the Finality of Prophethood when the Elections Act 2017 was passed last year. As Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui resumed hearing the Faizabad dharna (sit-in) case, Deputy Attorney General Arshad Kiyani informed the court that the report has not been presented as it is not final yet. Faizabad dharna case: IHC warns government officials of contempt if reports not submitted Justice Shaukat Siddiqui had summoned secretaries of defence, interior and law ministries, among other officials, today The judge remarked how it is possible that the report is incomplete even after the signature of Raja Zafarul Haq. "Do you want us to demand the record directly from the National Assembly speaker and Senate chairman," Justice Siddiqui remarked, adding that, "Don?t play hide and seek with the court". The hearing of the case was then adjourned until February 20 with directions to submit the report. Late last year, a religious party protested against the amendment, which was later reversed by the government, and ended its protest after an agreement was reached with the government, which included the resignation of Law Minister Zahid Hamid. During the protest, Justice Siddiqui had started proceedings over the issue of the controversial amendment as well as the agreement reached between the two sides. At the last hearing of the case on Friday, Justice Siddiqui had expressed displeasure over the government's failure to submit responses on the sit-in and failure to submit the report. At that hearing, the court had also ordered the defence secretary to submit a response on the use of the army chief?s name in the agreement between protesters and the government. The head of the Intelligence Bureau was also present in court but failed to submit an audio recording which went viral during the sit-in. Justice Siddiqui on December 4 had ordered the defence secretary to probe who used the army chief's name in the agreement between the protesters and government but the report was not submitted, drawing the court's ire. At an earlier hearing on Jan 12, the attorney general had argued that since the matter is pending before the Supreme Court, the IHC may not proceed in the matter. However, Justice Siddiqui remarked that the apex court is only hearing the matter regarding the dharna, which has no connection with the probe committee report.
  2. Cape Chiniak, Alaska/File photo An earthquake of magnitude 8.2 hit 256 km (157 miles) southeast of Chiniak, Alaska at a depth of 10 km at 0931 GMT on Tuesday, the US Geological Survey said. The quake prompted a tsunami warning for parts of Alaska and Canada and a tsunami watch for the entire US west coast, the US Tsunami Warning System said.
  3. Suresh Raina may have lost his place in the Indian team, but there is little doubt regarding his abilities in limited-overs cricket. An attacking left-hander who goes for the big shots with impunity and clears the field with a swashbuckling flourish when at the top of his game, Raina is also equally capable of attracting applause as an electric fielder in the circle. In the Indian Premier League (IPL), the left-hander is currently the leading run-scorer with 4,540 runs in 161 matches over the past ten editions, scoring more than 350 runs every season. And, that's exactly the reason why Chennai Super Kings, who finally return to the IPL this season after a two-year ban, didn't think twice before shelling out Rs 11 crore to retain his services. © BCCL Though the eleventh edition of the IPL is still a few months away, Raina is leaving no stone unturned to showcase what Chennai fans can expect from him this year. While his Team India mates are playing their trade in South Africa, Raina is turning heads in the ongoing Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy - a domestic T20 tournament. Playing for Uttar Pradesh, Raina blazed his way to a superb 59-ball 126 - the second highest score by an Indian in the format. Thanks to his blistering innings, UP romped to a 75-run victory over Bengal at the hallowed Eden Gardens on Monday. If Raina's innings fired a warning to CSK rivals for the upcoming IPL season, his exploits on 23 January etched his name in the history books. From one left hander to another. In the former Captain @SGanguly99's presence, @ImRaina hits a 49-ball century #BENvUP pic.twitter.com/knqpuixutZ — BCCI Domestic (@BCCIdomestic) January 22, 2018 Back at the same venue, Raina continued his fine run with a 41-ball 61 including seven fours and a six against Tamil Nadu. In the process, he has surpassed Indian captain Virat Kohli as the country's leading run-getter in the shortest format of the game. Before today's match, Raina had amassed 7,053 runs from 265 T20s. He needed another 16 runs to surpass Kohli who has so far played 226 T20s and accumulated 7,068 runs. Thanks to his brilliant half-century against Tamil Nadu, Raina now has 7,114 runs to his name in 266 T20s. © BCCL Kohli and Raina are the only two Indians to have crossed the 7,000-run mark in T20s. The next best from India is Rohit Sharma with 6,825 runs. Overall, only nine batsmen have managed to breach the 7,000-mark. West Indies' marauding opener Chris Gayle leads the table with over 11,000 runs. In T20 Internationals, Kohli is India's highest run scorer with 1,956 from 55 games. He is second in the world behind the leader Brendon McCullum (New Zealand), who has 2,140 runs from 71 matches.
  4. WASHINGTON: An emergency alert sent on Saturday to Hawaii?s residents warning of an imminent ballistic missile attack was transmitted mistakenly by state authorities due to human error, Hawaii?s governor and emergency management chief said. State officials and the US military?s Pacific Command confirmed that there was no actual threat to the state. Governor David Ige, a Democrat, said in comments aired on CNN, ?I was awakened by the alert like everyone else here in the state of Hawaii. It was unfortunate and regrettable. We will be looking at how we can improve the procedures so it doesn?t happen again.? The alert, sent to mobile phones and aired on television and radio, was issued amid high international tensions over North Korea?s development of ballistic nuclear weapons. Ige, who apologized for the incident, said the alert was sent out by mistake during a shift change at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency. He said such shift changes occur three times a day every day of the year. Vern Miyagi, the agency?s administrator, said in comments also aired on CNN, ?It was an inadvertent mistake. The change of shift is about three people. That should have been caught. ... It should not have happened.? The U.S. Federal Communications Commission announced it was initiating a full investigation. The FCC has jurisdiction over the emergency alert system. Earlier this week, FCC chairman Ajit Pai said the agency would vote at its January meeting to enhance the effectiveness of wireless emergency alerts, which have been in place since 2012. CHECK LIST Miyagi said there was a ?check list? that should have been followed. He said, ?I think we have the process in place. It?s an matter of executing the process. I think it?s human error.? ?This will not happen again,? he added. Media reports said it took 38 minutes for the initial alert to be corrected. After the alert was sent, the Emergency Management Agency later said on Twitter: ?NO missile threat to Hawaii.? A spokeswoman for US Representative Tulsi Gabbard said the congresswoman checked with the state agency that issued the alert and was told it was sent in error. Gabbard then tweeted, ?HAWAII - THIS IS A FALSE ALARM. THERE IS NO INCOMING MISSILE TO HAWAII. I HAVE CONFIRMED WITH OFFICIALS THERE IS NO INCOMING MISSILE.? Gabbard also tweeted the mistaken alert, which stated: ?EMERGENCY ALERT BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.? North Korean President Kim Jong-un has threatened to unleash his country?s growing missile weapon capability against the U.S. territory of Guam or U.S. states, prompting President Donald Trump to threaten tough actions against Pyongyang, including ?fire and fury.? Trump was wrapping up a round of golf at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida when the incident was unfolding. White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said Trump was briefed and that it ?was purely a state exercise.? Hawaii State Representative Matt LoPresti, described his family?s reaction upon receiving the alert, adding that ?someone should lose their job if this was an error.? ?We took shelter immediately ... in the bathtub with my children, saying our prayers,? LoPresti told CNN. ?I was wondering why we couldn?t hear the emergency sirens. I didn?t understand that. And that was my first clue that maybe something was wrong, whether a hack or an error. But we took it as seriously as a heart attack,? LoPresti added. Hawaii, a chain of islands in the Pacific Ocean, has a population of about 1.4 million people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and is home to Pacific Command, the Navy?s Pacific Fleet and other elements of the American military. In November, Hawaii said it would resume monthly statewide testing of Cold War-era nuclear attack warning sirens for the first time in at least a quarter of a century, in preparation for a possible missile strike from North Korea, state officials said at the time. US Senator Mazie Hirono, a Democrat from Hawaii, said on Twitter, ?At a time of heightened tensions, we need to make sure all information released to the community is accurate. We need to get to the bottom of what happened and make sure it never happens again.? The US Navy base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, was the target of the surprise attack by Japan on Dec. 7, 1941, that drew the United States into World War Two.
  5. The pitch for the fourth Ashes test was rated ´poor´ by the ICC earlier this month MELBOURNE: The Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) has received an official warning after the pitch for the fourth Ashes test was rated ´poor´ by the International Cricket Council (ICC) earlier this month. The track drew criticism from both teams after the drawn clash between Australia and England saw only 24 wickets fall over five days, the only stalemate in a series dominated 4-0 by the hosts as they regained the urn. Australia scored 327 and 263 for four declared, while England scored 491 in their only innings, with match referee Ranjan Madugalle saying in his report that the surface did not allow for an even contest between bat and ball. Cricket Australia (CA) did not contest the rating given by Madugalle, the governing body said in a statement. "Cricket Australia... highlighted that the ground is a frequently used venue that has no history of preparing poor pitches for international cricket," the ICC said. The ICC said there was a commitment by both the Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC) and Cricket Australia to improve the pitches presented for international cricket at the MCG in the future. The Melbourne test was the last to be rated under the ICC´s pitch and outfield monitoring process, with a revision of the system coming into effect from Jan.4. Under the new process, if a pitch or outfield is rated as being substandard, that venue will be allocated a number of demerit points, which will be active for a five-year period. The MCG will host the first one-day international between Australia and England on Sunday.
  6. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks as he meets with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and other officials following an earthquake that hit Kermansheh province, in Tehran, Iran November 15, 2017. ? Reuters DUBAI: Iran has banned the teaching of English in primary schools, a senior education official said, after the country?s Supreme Leader said early learning of the language opened the way to a Western ?cultural invasion?. "Teaching English in government and non-government primary schools in the official curriculum is against laws and regulations," Mehdi Navid-Adham, head of the state-run High Education Council, told state television late on Saturday. "This is because the assumption is that, in primary education, the groundwork for the Iranian culture of the students is laid," Navid-Adham said, adding that non-curriculum English classes may also be blocked. The teaching of English usually starts in middle school in Iran, around the ages of 12 to 14, but some primary schools, below that age, also have English classes. Some children also attend private language institutes after their school day. And many children from more privileged families attending non-government schools receive English tuition from daycare through high school. Iran?s Islamic leaders have often warned about the dangers of a "cultural invasion", and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei voiced outrage in 2016 over the "teaching of the English language spreading to nursery schools". Khamenei, who has the final say in all state matters, said in that speech to teachers: "That does not mean opposition to learning a foreign language, but (this is the) promotion of a foreign culture in the country and among children, young adults and youths." "Western thinkers have time and again said that instead of colonialist expansionism . . . the best and the least costly way would have been inculcation of thought and culture to the younger generation of countries," Khamenei said, according to the text of the speech posted on a website run by his office (Leader.ir). While there was no mention of the announcement being linked to more than a week of protests against the clerical establishment and government, Iran?s Revolutionary Guards have said that the unrest was also fomented by foreign enemies. Iranian officials said 22 people were killed and more than 1,000 arrested during the protests that spread to more than 80 cities and rural towns, as thousands of young and working-class Iranians expressed their anger at graft, unemployment and a deepening gap between rich and poor. A video of the announcement of the ban was widely circulated on social media on Sunday, with Iranians calling it "The filtering of English", jokingly likening to the blocking of the popular app Telegram by the government during the unrest.
  7. LONDON: Anti-government protesters demonstrated in Iran on Sunday in defiance of a warning by authorities of a tough crackdown, extending for a fourth day one of the most audacious challenges to the clerical leadership since pro-reform unrest in 2009. Giving his first public reaction to the protests, President Hassan Rouhani appealed for calm, saying Iranians had the right to protest and criticize the authorities. But he warned, according to official media: ?The government will show no tolerance for those who damage public properties, violate public order and create unrest in the society.? Tens of thousands of people have protested across the country since Thursday against the Islamic Republic?s government and clerical elite. Police in the center of Tehran fired water cannon to try to disperse demonstrators, according to pictures on social media. Demonstrations turned violent in Shahin Shahr in central Iran. Videos showed protesters attacking the police, turning over a car and setting it on fire. Reuters could not immediately verify the authenticity of the footage. There were also reports of demonstrations in the cities of Sanandaj and Kermanshah in western Iran as well as Chabahar in the southeast and Ilam and Izeh in the southwest. Demonstrators initially vented their anger over economic hardships and alleged corruption, but the protests took on a rare political dimension, with a growing number of people calling on Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to step down. Iranian security forces appear to have shown restraint to avoid an escalation of the crisis. Two people have been killed and hundreds arrested. The protests are the biggest since unrest in 2009 that followed the disputed re-election of then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Videos showed people in central Tehran chanting: ?Down with the dictator!? in an apparent reference to Khamenei. Protesters in Khorramabad in western Iran shouted: ?Khamenei, shame on you, leave the country alone!? The government said it would temporarily restrict access to the Telegram messaging app and Instagram, owned by Facebook Inc, state television quoted an informed source as saying. An Iranian reached by telephone, who asked not to be named, said there was a heavy presence of police and security forces in the heart of the capital. ?I saw a few young men being arrested and put into police van. They don?t let anyone assemble,? he said. A video showed a protester being arrested by police while a crowd shouted: ?Police, go and arrest the thieves!? in the northwestern city of Khoy. In the western town of Takestan, demonstrators set ablaze a Shi?ite Muslim seminary and the offices of the local Friday prayers leader, state broadcaster IRIB?s website said. Police dispersed protesters, arresting some, ILNA news agency said. BREAKING TABOO Demonstrators also shouted: ?Reza Shah, bless your soul.? Such calls are evidence of a deep level of anger and break a taboo. The king ruled Iran from 1925 to 1941 and his Pahlavi dynasty was overthrown in a revolution in 1979 by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Islamic Republic?s first leader. High prices, alleged corruption and mismanagement are fuelling the anger. Youth unemployment reached 28.8 percent this year. Economic indexes have improved under Rouhani?s government and the economy is no longer in dire straits. But growth has been too slow for an overwhelmingly youthful population, far more interested in jobs and change than in the Islamist idealism and anti-Shah republicanism of the 1979 revolution. The demonstrations are particularly troublesome for Rouhani?s government because he was elected on a promise to guarantee rights to freedom of expression and assembly. His main achievement is a deal in 2015 with world powers that curbed Iran?s nuclear program in return for a lifting of most international sanctions. But it has yet to bring the economic benefits the government promised. Ali Asghar Naserbakht, deputy governor of Tehran province, was quoted as saying by ILNA that 200 protesters had been arrested on Saturday. ?CARRIED AWAY BY EMOTIONS? Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said some of those arrested had confessed ?they were carried away by emotions and set fire to mosques and public buildings?, adding they would face severe punishment. ?After giving thousands of martyrs for the Revolution, the nation will not return to dark era of Pahlavi rule,? he said. Police and Revolutionary Guards have in the past crushed unrest violently. The new protests could worry authorities more because they seem spontaneous and lack a clear leader. Yet analysts say Iran?s leaders believe they can count on support from many of the generation that took part as youths in the 1979 revolution because of their ideological commitment and the economic gains they have made under the government. In apparent response to the protests, the government backed down on plans to raise fuel prices, promised to increase cash handouts to the poor and create more jobs in coming years. ?We predict that at least 830,000 jobs will be created in the new year,? government spokesman Mohammad Baqer Nobakht said on state television on Saturday night. He gave no details. About 3.2 million Iranians are jobless. Protesters also expressed anger over costly interventions in Syria and Iraq, where Iran is engaged in a proxy war for influence against regional rival Saudi Arabia. TRUMP TWEETS US President Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers offered implicit support on Sunday to the protesters. ?Big protests in Iran,? Trump said in a tweet. ?The people are finally getting wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism.? Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said: ?The Iranian government is being tested by its own citizens. We pray that freedom and human rights will carry the day.? Rouhani rebuffed Trump?s comments, saying he had no right to sympathize with Iranians since he ?called the Iranian nation terrorists a few months ago?. Trump refused in October to certify that Tehran was complying with its 2015 nuclear deal and said he might terminate the accord. British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson tweeted it was vital that citizens have the right to demonstrate peacefully.
  8. ISLAMABAD: The district administration of the federal capital issued a final warning to protesters of a religious party, camped at Faizabad Interchange, and told them to disperse by midnight, threatening to take action of the order was not followed. The warning was issued in a notification issued by the district magistrate. The order by the district administration comes after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday ordered to shift the protesters to Parade Ground within a span of three days. [embed_video1 url=http://stream.jeem.tv/vod/32f42d1cbd8f49201aa35be385ac03ca.mp4/playlist.m3u8?wmsAuthSign=c2VydmVyX3RpbWU9MTEvMjQvMjAxNyAyOjEwOjQzIFBNJmhhc2hfdmFsdWU9UnZpai9wSmJOd0dQRlJ3SExXa01uQT09JnZhbGlkbWludXRlcz02MCZpZD0x style=center] The district administration stated that the protesters have been camping at the critical junction illegally and the protesters have been issued a three-day warning previously too, hence, the protesters should vacate Faizabad Interchange by midnight Friday. If an operation is conducted to clear the interchange, then the responsibility will fall on the leadership and the participants of the protest, added the administration. The Supreme Court on Thursday said that when the writ of the state ends, decisions are made on the streets. The bench, comprising Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Mushir Alam, also expressed its displeasure at the unrelenting situation and noted that the residents of Islamabad and Rawalpindi were facing serious problems as a result of the sit-in. The apex court bench added that the sit-in is all about the ego of one man and his quest for fame. Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal also stated that the state is on one page regarding sit-in and the government is still trying to resolve the issue through peaceful means. The Army said on Wednesday that it would act upon whatever decision the government makes on the ongoing sit-in in Islamabad. General Ghafoor, however, said it is better to diffuse the situation through mutual understanding, adding that whatever decision the government makes in this regard would be acted upon. Also on Wednesday, at least four security personnel were injured when the protesters resorted to pelting stones at security forces deployed in the area. Four FC and police personnel, including SP Saddar Amir Niazi, were injured as a result. The protest has resulted in severe issues for residents of the capital and Rawalpindi, who face traffic jams and mobility issues on a daily basis. At least two casualties due to ambulances being unable to cross the protesters have also been reported. Talks between the government and protesters on Saturday and then on Monday failed with no breakthrough in sight, as protest leaders continue to demand the resignation of Federal Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid. The protests are being held against the change in the finality of Prophethood oath in the law when the government passed the Elections Act 2017 last month. The change, dubbed a clerical error by the government, was immediately fixed as an amendment was passed later.
  9. Mumbai police called out Bollywood ?youth icon? Varun Dhawan for flouting traffic rules by posing for a selfie with a fan while stuck in traffic. The police shared a picture on social media in which Varun can be seen leaning out of his car to click a selfie with a fan, who was sitting in a rickshaw parked next to his car. The Judwaa 2 actor does not seem to be wearing seat belt in the picture. In a tweet, Mumbai police shared: ?We expected better from a responsible Mumbaikar and youth icon like you,' wrote Mumbai Police, also adding that the actor should expect an 'e-challan' or a fine soon.? Reacting to this, Varun issued an apology. He wrote: ?My apologies. Our cars weren?t moving since we were at a traffic signal and I didn?t want to hurt the sentiment of a fan but next time I?ll keep safety in mind and won?t encourage this.? The Mumbai police then posted: "Quite a galactic coincidence for the photographer to be on the same signal to capture your gesture, in a good intent nevertheless risky. Leaning out even in a stationary vehicle can be distracting for others considering your popularity. Glad you took our message in d right spirit"
  10. Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger attends a promotional tour for the film "Terminator Genisys" in Shanghai, China, in this file photo taken August 19, 2015. REUTERS/Aly Song/Files BONN: Arnold Schwarzenegger ? the former California governor and Hollywood actor and film producer ? issued a challenge on Sunday to governments to start labelling fossil fuels with a public health warning that their use could cause illness and death. He lauded the World Health Organization (WHO) for sealing a 164-nation tobacco control pact in 2003 that led to consumers of cigarettes and cigars being alerted to the health risks of smoking, including lung cancer. A similar accord could be put in place for products derived from fossil fuels such as oil and coal, which emit planet-warming gases when burned, said the politician and environmental activist. ?Wouldn?t it be great now if they could? make the same pact with the rest of the world to go and say, ?Let?s label another thing that is killing you ? which is fossil fuels,'? he said to applause on the sidelines of UN climate talks in Bonn. Schwarzenegger suggested telling customers at petrol stations that ?what you pump into your tank may kill you?, and plastering oil tankers driving along highways with messages that their contents are dangerous to health. ?Here?s a challenge for you guys,? he said, directly addressing WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who spoke at the same event. Schwarzenegger lamented that environmental pollution ? estimated to kill more than 9 million people per year in all its forms ? was rarely discussed at conferences on climate change. About two-thirds of those deaths are from air pollution. ?This is a massive tragedy ? and as depressing and terrifying as it is, we are not talking about it enough,? he said. In his own political career, his campaign team found that talking about polar bears or degrees of temperature rise was not an effective way to communicate the threat of climate change to the public. But running adverts saying that air pollution killed and gave children breathing problems worked, he said. Over the 12 days of the climate change conference in Germany ? presided over by Fiji ? more than 300,000 people would die from harmful substances in their environment, he noted. Small islands suffer Patricia Espinosa ? the head of the UN climate change secretariat ? said climate change needed to be addressed from a broader view ?that directly connects human health with the health of the planet?. Besides deaths caused by respiratory diseases from burning fossil fuels, global warming is harming coral reefs and fish supplies and causing hunger and poverty. Elsewhere, higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are reducing the nutritional content of crops, putting hundreds of millions of people at risk from vitamin deficiencies, she said. Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama underscored the damage done to health facilities in his small island state from extreme weather, including powerful Cyclone Winston, which caused 44 deaths and wiped out over a third of the nation?s GDP last year. He stressed the importance of investing in infrastructure to make health systems stronger and agiler in the face of growing disaster threats as global warming brings wilder weather and rising seas. Although the 2016 cyclone damaged health facilities, Fiji is now building new hospitals and clinics, and reinforcing existing ones, he said. But to do this requires funding, he added, noting that only a tiny fraction of climate finance is allocated for measures to protect health, and small island developing states ?will see only a small part of that?. An initiative launched on Sunday ? by the WHO, the UN climate secretariat, and Fiji ? aims to triple international financial support for action on climate-related health issues in small island developing states. Its main goal is to ensure health systems are resilient to climate change by 2030. ?Climate change is not a political argument in Fiji and other island nations ? it?s everyday reality,? whether that?s in the form of destructive storms, rising sea levels or increased risk of infectious disease, said Ghebreyesus, the WHO chief. "These communities need assistance to cope with a world that is changing in front of them," he said. ?via Thomson Reuters Foundation
  11. A man cools off from a public tap after filling bottles during intense hot weather in Karachi, Pakistan, June 23, 2015. REUTERS KARACHI: When an unseasonal and potentially deadly heatwave loomed on weather forecasts last month, authorities in this port city took an unusual step: They issued a public warning, a full week in advance. Before the heat hit, text message warning of the danger went out to Karachi residents. Hospitals set aside extra beds for heat stroke victims. Water and power company officials were put on alert. Ultimately the heatwave, with temperatures that reached 41 degrees Celsius, passed without claiming lives, Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar said. But the warning ? the first of its kind issued by the Pakistan Meteorological Department for Karachi ? may set the stage for more lifesaving warnings next summer as climate change drives temperatures higher. October temperatures in densely populated Karachi normally rise no higher than 35 or 38 degrees Celsius, said Abdul Rashid, director of the Pakistan Meteorological Department office in Karachi. Heatwaves in October are ?extremely rare incidents?, he said. But being unprepared for extreme heat can be deadly. In 2015, a June heatwave killed about 1,500 people in Karachi, Pakistan?s largest city, and left over 70,000 hospitalised, most with heat stroke. Officials are now working to try to avoid a repeat of that heat disaster ? a particular challenge as climate change brings ever-hotter years, particularly in already broiling South Asia. ?We now keep a closer watch on temperature, air, humidity (and) sunlight parameters of the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea, and register these parameters regularly in the weather charts, which helped predict the October heat wave more accurately and timely,? Rashid, of the met office, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. The Karachi office also has its own heatwave forecast division, with advanced computer systems connected to five heatwave monitoring stations recently installed around the city, he said. The system was set up following World Meteorological Organization warnings that more frequent and intense heatwaves were becoming a possibility in the region. WARNING, THEN ACTION In October, after spotting heat-producing weather conditions moving toward Pakistan from Mumbai and India?s Gujarat state, the office issued a warning to the Sind provincial government, the Karachi commissioner and provincial disaster management authorities, Rashid said. For Karachi?s mayor, the alert provided time to send out text alerts, contact media, warn hospitals and water and power utility officials and set up special units for heat victims in 13 city hospitals. Dr. Seemi Jamali, head of emergencies at the state-run Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre in Karachi, said the warning gave time to stock extra medicine, set aside beds and put medical staff on high alert. ?This really helped quickly arrange medical care facilities in hospitals for heat wave victims and avoid possible deaths,? she said in an interview in her office. Residents of Karachi said the unusual October heat is a worry. ?Octobers have remained always warm in the port city, but I never experienced this blistering heatwave in all my life in this month, which made our home feel like a furnace,? said Saba Karim, a 43-year-old garment factory worker. ?We all five family members, including my husband, stayed indoors during the heatwave days and would go outside only during night hours to buy groceries,? she recalled. Ghulam Rasul, head of the Pakistan Meteorological Department in Pakistan, said the country may be seeing a change in its traditional pattern of onshore winds blowing cooler air into Karachi over the summer months. The lack of that wind was one driver behind Karachi?s October heatwave, he said. ?Temperatures in the Arabian Sea are showing gradual rising trends for the last six years because of strange weather patterns, which mostly likely increase the frequency and intensity of cyclones, heatwaves, and torrential rains in months in which these were never or rarely seen before,? said Rasul, who is also Pakistan?s permanent representative to the World Meteorological Organization.
  12. Journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia's sons Matthew and Paul carry the coffin of their mother ? who was murdered in a car bomb attack ? as they leave the Rotunda Parish Church in Mosta, Malta, November 3, 2017. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi VALLETTA: Thousands of mourners at a funeral on Friday for slain Maltese anti-corruption blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia heard a plea for the protection of journalistic freedoms and a warning to her unknown killers that they face ?the justice of God?. The island?s president, the prime minister and opposition leader, all targeted in Caruana Galizia?s writing, stayed away from the private ceremony, but European Parliament President Antonio Tajani attended as a guest of the family. The island observed a day of mourning and flags flew at half mast in Brussels during the funeral at Malta?s biggest church, near the capital Valletta and two miles from the site where the 53-year-old was killed by a car bomb as she left her home on October 16. Archbishop Charles Scicluna, who led the funeral mass, addressed the unknown killers, saying, ?However hard you try to evade the justice of men, you will never escape from the justice of God. Repent before it is too late.? He then told journalists not to be afraid. ?I encourage you never to grow weary in your mission to be the eyes, the ears, and the mouth of the people ... We need people in your profession who are unshackled, who are free, intelligent, inquisitive, honest, serene, safe, and protected.? Some mourners chant 'justice' Reflecting concern in neighbouring countries about possible failings in democracy and the rule of law in Malta, the European Union vowed earlier on Friday to make sure its smallest state found the ?barbarous? killers. Tajani was also due to visit the offices of a newspaper for which she worked as a contributor, and Caruana Galizia?s family was invited to a sitting in parliament to commemorate her. The island?s government is offering a one-million-euro ($1.16-million) reward for information about the culprits and has asked the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to help. But the Caruana Galizia family refused to endorse the reward, called for the resignation of the prime minister, the police commissioner and the attorney general, and insisted there could be no justice without institutional change. Their calls have been echoed by opposition leader Adrian Delia, who said the police commissioner and attorney general?s failure to act when Caruana Galizia revealed corruption created the circumstances leading to the assassination. Mourners applauded, made ?V? for victory signs, and sung the national anthem as the coffin was carried to a hearse. Some chanted ?Justice?. Caruana Galizia?s husband and three adult sons stood solemnly, occasionally hugged by mourners. Malta?s chief justice and former prime ministers Lawrence Gonzi and Eddie Fenech Adami also attended. A household name in Malta, Caruana Galizia was well-known for stirring up passions and dividing opinion. Her murder shocked the tiny country and was condemned by all political parties, but controversy continued on the day of her burial. Maltese news websites reported several critical Facebook posts including one referring to a demonstration outside police headquarters planned by a group of NGOs which is demanding the commissioner?s resignation. ?You?d have to wonder why you never get a truck mowing people down here in Malta. Who knows? Maybe that will happen at Sunday?s protest. I?d love to see them crushed in the middle of the road,? one read.
  13. JAKARTA: A strong 6.7-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of eastern Indonesia on Tuesday, US seismologists said, but no tsunami warning was issued and there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage. The quake hit East Nusa Tenggara province about 318 kilometres northwest of the provincial capital Kupang at a depth of 549 kilometres, according to the US Geological Survey. "We are collecting reports about potential damages but the earthquake was very deep, and there was tsunami potential," a spokesman for Indonesia´s geophysics and meteorological agency told AFP. Indonesia experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity due to its position on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", where tectonic plates collide. An earthquake struck the country´s western Aceh province in December 2016, killing more than 100 people, injuring many more and leaving tens of thousands homeless.
  14. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson promised India a new century of "strategic partnership" on Wednesday, accusing its Asian rival China of undermining international order. Photo: AFP file WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson promised India a new century of "strategic partnership" on Wednesday, accusing its Asian rival China of undermining international order. Setting the stage for an upbeat visit next week to Delhi, Washington´s top diplomat drew an explicit comparison between China and the world´s "two greatest democracies." Washington and India have been building stronger ties for some time, but Tillerson made one of the clearest cases yet for the "shared values" underpinning the relationship. As such, the speech also amounted to a warning to great power rival China that Washington will build regional alliances to counter its ever-growing power. "The United States and India are increasingly global partners with growing strategic convergence," he said. "Indians and Americans don´t just share an affinity for democracy. We share a vision of the future," he said, projecting the relationship into the next 100 years. Promising greater prosperity and security in a "free and open Indo-Pacific," Tillerson did push India to open up its borders to more regional and US trade. But his harshest words were for China, the Asian economic behemoth and the nearest rival to India´s huge population and the United States´ still world-leading economy. "China, while rising alongside India, has done so less responsibly, at times undermining the international, rules-based order," Tillerson chided. "China´s provocative actions in the South China Sea directly challenge the international law and norms that the United States and India both stand for," he said. Last month, the chief of India´s army warned that China had been "testing our limits" in a recent border stand-off and warned that Delhi's forces must be ready for conflict. India and China went to war in 1962 over the state of Arunachal Pradesh and China has maintained better ties with Delhi´s foe Pakistan. Tillerson did not directly address August´s stand-off on the Doklam plateau in the Himalayas, which is claimed by both China and Bhutan, an ally of India. 'Greatest democracies' But he vowed that Washington "won't shrink from China's challenges to the rules-based order, or where China subverts the sovereignty of neighbouring countries." And he approvingly cited US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis' declaration "that the world's two greatest democracies should have the two greatest militaries." Tillerson noted the Indian navy is now flying the American P-8 surveillance aircraft alongside its US comrades and promised to help to develop a carrier-borne strike force. Tillerson was speaking to guests of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. He is due in New Delhi next week for talks with Indian leaders.
  15. PARIS: A house-sized asteroid will give Earth a near-miss Thursday, passing harmlessly inside the Moon´s orbit while giving experts a rare chance to rehearse for a real-life strike threat. Dubbed 2012 TC4, the space rock will shave past at an altitude of less than 44,000 kilometres - just above the 36,000-km plane at which hundreds of geosynchronous satellites orbit the Earth. That represents about an eighth of the distance between the Earth and the Moon. NASA's Mike Kelley, who leads the exercise to spot, track and intimately probe the transient visitor, insisted there was "no danger. Not even for satellites". "We've now been observing TC4 for two months, so we have very accurate position information on it, which in turn allows very precise calculations of its orbit," which will not cross that of Earth nor its satellites, he told AFP. As its name suggests, the object was first spotted five years ago when it called on Earth at about double Thursday's projected distance, before disappearing from view. It is 15 to 30 metres wide - about the size of the meteoroid that exploded in the atmosphere over Chelyabinsk in central Russia in 2013 with 30 times the kinetic energy of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The resulting shockwave blew out the windows of nearly 5,000 buildings and injured more than 1,200 people. While the Chelyabinsk event caught everyone unawares, TC4 is one of thousands of space rocks whose whereabouts are known. Millions are not. On its 609-day loop around the Sun, TC4 will return to Earth in 2050 and 2079, according to Ruediger Jehn of the European Space Agency's Near-Earth Object programme in the Netherlands. "We know today that it will also not hit the Earth in the year 2050, but the close flyby in 2050 might deflect the asteroid such that it could hit the Earth in the year 2079," he told AFP by email. With a one-in-750 chance of hitting the planet then, TC4 is listed at number 13 on the "risk list" of objects posing even the remotest impact risk. 'We are practicing' "We need to make very precise observations to be able to better predict the return in the year 2050," Jehn said. Flybys like this one are actually quite common - about three objects similar in size to TC4 graze past at a similar distance every year. What makes TC4 special is that it has been chosen to test the global asteroid pre-warning system, fed by a network of observatories, universities, and labs around the world. The asteroid's close approach will allow teams to evaluate how accurate they were in predicting its orbit and size while using telescopes to learn more about its composition. "For us, this is a test case," said Jehn's colleague Detlef Koschny. "We are practicing for the real serious case." Many scientists believe the Earth will once again be hit by a space rock of the size that wiped out the dinosaurs, though nobody knows when. And even if they become better at predicting a strike, there is very little to be done about it, for now. Futuristic projects mooted to deflect or destroy incoming space rocks have come to nought so far, and the only strategy would be to evacuate people in zones at risk. TC4 will make its closest approach to Earth just before 0541 GMT on Thursday, at a point south of Australia, according to ESA and NASA. It will not be visible to the naked eye nor with regular binoculars, "but it can be seen in the night of 11-12 October until about 4.00 am from European observatories," Jehn said.
  16. South Korea's navy held major live-fire drills Tuesday to warn the North against any provocations at sea, it said, two days after Pyongyang's biggest nuclear test to date. The drills, conducted in the East Sea (Sea of Japan), involved the 2,500-tonne frigate Gangwon, a 1,000-tonne patrol ship and 400-tonne guided-missile vessels, among others, the Navy said in a statement. "If the enemy launches a provocation above water or under water, we will immediately hit back to bury them at sea," Captain Choi Young-chan, commander of the 13th Maritime Battle Group, said in a statement. North Korea on Sunday triggered global alarm with by far its most powerful atomic test to date, claiming it was a hydrogen bomb that could be mounted onto a long-range missile.global alarm with by far its most powerful atomic test to date, claiming it was a hydrogen bomb that could be mounted onto a long-range missile.onto a long-range missile. On Monday the South's military launched a volley of ballistic missiles simulating an attack on the North's nuclear test site. US President Donald Trump and South Korea's leader Moon Jae-In agreed during a phone call late Monday to remove limits on the payload of the South's missiles, fixed at 500 kilograms according to a 2001 bilateral agreement. Trump also said he was willing to approve the sale of "many billions of dollars' worth of military weapons and equipment from the United States by South Korea", according to a statement released by the White House. Tensions have mounted on the Korean peninsula following a series of missile launches by the North, including two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that apparently brought much of the US mainland into range.
  17. Police issued a warning on Sunday after chemical ?haze? left up to 50 people on Britain?s south coast suffering irritation to their eyes and throats. Sussex police urged people to keep doors and windows shut in the affected area, between the resort town of Eastbourne and Birling Gap, a few miles along the coast. Police also warned people to stay away from the beaches, on a busy public holiday weekend. The haze seems to have been coming in from the sea but the source has not been established, the statement said.
  18. PTI chairman Imran Khan Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan on Tuesday reacted to US President Donald Trump?s allegations that Pakistan was providing ?safe haven? to terrorists in the region. In a series of tweets, the PTI chief criticised the US for blaming Pakistan for its own ?deeply flawed and failed? policy towards Afghanistan. ?Just as India blames Pak for the indigenous Kashmiri uprisings when these are a result of its own failed policy of mly repression in IOK .. So the US again blames Pak for its deeply flawed & failed Afghan policy stretching over a decade,? he tweeted. ?This shd teach Pak once and for all a valuable lesson: never to fight others wars for the lure of dollars.? ?We fought 2 wars in Afghanistan at the US behest paying heavy human and economic costs both times. We sacrificed 70000 Pak lives in US WOT,? Khan stated. ?Our economy suffered over $100 billion in losses. In addition, there were intangible costs on our society. Time for Pak to say: Never again.? ?We must also reject being made scapegoats for the policy failures of the US and India,? he added. Trump, in his first formal address to the nation as commander-in-chief, took a subtle yet hard line when speaking about Pakistan and its relations with the United States late Monday. "Our commitment is not limited [and] our support is not a blank cheque," he said, indicating that Pakistan should take a stronger line against possible terrorist elements being provided ?safe havens? in the country. Trump also cleared the way for the deployment of thousands more US troops to Afghanistan, backtracking from his promise to rapidly end America´s longest war.
  19. US President Donald Trump speaks to the press on August 11, 2017, at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. AFP/Jim Watson WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump on Friday ignored international calls for restraint in his face-off with North Korea, warning Pyongyang that it would "truly regret" taking any hostile action, as the US military is "locked and loaded." Trump has been engaged all week in a war of words with the North over its weapons and missile programs, as US media reported Pyongyang has successfully miniaturized a nuclear warhead. The Republican billionaire has progressively ramped up the tone throughout the week ? after brandishing a threat of unleashing "fire and fury" on Pyongyang, he said Thursday maybe that statement "wasn't tough enough". The North's official KCNA news service countered in an editorial that "Trump is driving the situation on the Korean peninsula to the brink of a nuclear war," calling the US "the heinous nuclear war fanatic". The saber-rattling has intensified daily, sparking worldwide concerns that a miscalculation by either side could trigger a catastrophic conflict on the Korean peninsula. China, Russia, and Germany have urged both sides to tone down the rhetoric. "Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully, Kim Jong Un will find another path!" Trump wrote Friday from his golf club retreat in New Jersey, where he is on a working vacation. Later in the day, he lashed out at Pyongyang's plans to launch missiles towards the US Pacific territory of Guam, urging Kim to heed his warnings. "I hope that they are going to fully understand the gravity of what I said, and what I said is what I mean," Trump told reporters. "If he does anything with respect to Guam or anyplace else that's an American territory or an American ally, he will truly regret it, and he will regret it fast." 'Be cautious' China ? Pyongyang's main diplomatic ally ? urged Trump and Kim to avoid any further escalation. "We call on the relevant parties to be cautious with their words and actions, and contribute more toward easing tensions and enhancing mutual trust," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a statement. Beijing has repeatedly pushed resuming long-dormant six-party talks to peacefully resolve the mounting tensions, but its position has been overshadowed by Trump and Kim's emerging game of brinkmanship. Trump has called on China to "do a lot more" to heap pressure on Kim. Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow was "very alarmed" at Trump's tough talk, and said Washington should take the first step toward cooling tensions. "When a fight has nearly broken out, the first step away from the dangerous threshold should be taken by the side that is stronger and smarter," Lavrov said. German Chancellor Angela Merkel joined the intensifying chorus of calls for restraint, saying diplomacy was the answer. "Germany will very intensively take part in the options for resolution that are not military but I consider a verbal escalation to be the wrong response," she said. Nearly a week ago, the UN Security Council unanimously passed fresh sanctions against Pyongyang over its weapons program, including export bans, a new punishment that could cost North Korea $1 billion a year. "This is clearly a time for all the parties to focus on how to de-escalate and lower the tensions," said the spokesman for United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Stephane Dujarric. Tensions on the Korean peninsula tend to increase when Seoul and Washington launch major military joint exercises, and the next, Ulchi Freedom Guardian, is set to kick off around August 21. 'Tragedy of war' US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis appeared intent Thursday on easing the tension, describing the prospect of war as "catastrophic" and saying diplomacy remained the priority. Asked Friday if Mattis was aware of Trump's latest tweet, spokesman Colonel Rob Manning simply said the Pentagon chief was "in close and constant contact with the president." A White House official noted: "There are military plans for just about any crisis we may face in the world. (?) This isn't anything new." In China, the state-run Global Times said Friday that Beijing should "stay neutral" and not intervene on Pyongyang's side if it triggered a conflict. Meanwhile in South Korea, calls mounted for Seoul to develop atomic weapons of its own, with the Korea Herald saying in an editorial: "Now is time to start reviewing nuclear armament." 'Bereft of reason' Relations between Washington and Pyongyang have been tense for months, in the wake of the North's repeated missile tests, including two successful intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) test launches in July that are believed to have brought much of the US mainland within range. North Korea raised hackles in the United States when it announced a detailed plan to send four missiles over Japan and towards Guam, an island territory of some 165,000 people, where some 6,000 US soldiers are based. Pyongyang said the scheme to target the island, a key US military outpost in the western Pacific, was intended to "signal a crucial warning" as "only absolute force" would have an effect on a US leader "bereft of reason." The tough talk caused global markets to plunge this week, with stocks in the red again Friday in Asia and much of Europe.
  20. President Donald Trump on Thursday warned North Korea it should be "very, very nervous" of the consequences if it even thinks of attacking US soil, after nuclear-armed Pyongyang said it was readying missile launch plans on the Pacific territory of Guam. The Republican billionaire dismissed any criticism of his "fire and fury" warning, saying it possibly "wasn't tough enough," given threats made by the regime of Kim Jong-Un to both Washington and its allies. Trump also said China, Pyongyang's main diplomatic ally, could "do a lot more" to pressure Kim to end his country's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. Trump's comments, made from his golf club retreat in New Jersey, came after the North announced a detailed plan to send four missiles over Japan and towards Guam, where some 6,000 US soldiers are based. Pyongyang said the scheme to target the island, a key US military outpost in the western Pacific, was intended to "signal a crucial warning" as "only absolute force" would have an effect on a US leader "bereft of reason." Trump fired back with gusto. "If North Korea does anything in terms of even thinking about an attack on anybody we love or we represent or our allies or us, they can be very, very nervous," he told reporters, with Vice President Mike Pence at his side. "And they should be... because things will happen to them like they never thought possible." 'Better get their act together' Relations between Washington and Pyongyang have been tense for months, in the wake of the North's repeated missile tests, including two successful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test launches in July. Those launches put the US mainland in range. Some experts believe the second missile could potentially reach New York. The escalating saber-rattling took an unexpected turn Tuesday when Trump seemed to borrow from the North's arsenal of rhetoric, saying it faced "fire and fury like the world has never seen" if it continued to threaten the US. That prompted a defiant Pyongyang to threaten a missile attack on Guam. The war of words has set off diplomatic alarm bells, and raised fears of a miscalculation that could lead to catastrophic consequences on the Korean peninsula and beyond. The region is facing "a mini Cuban missile crisis," John Delury, a professor at Seoul's Yonsei University, told AFP. Trump dismissed the notion that his administration was delivering mixed messages and said Washington remained open to negotiations. But he once again suggested that he expected China to "do a lot more" to bring North Korea into line. "I will tell you this, North Korea better get their act together or they're going to be in trouble like few nations have ever been in trouble in this world, okay?" he added. The United Nations imposed a seventh set of sanctions on Pyongyang at the weekend that could cost North Korea $1 billion a year, with even China voting for the US-drafted proposal. The European Union announced Thursday that it was expanding its North Korean sanctions blacklist. Unusual detail In North Korea, General Kim Rak-Gyom, the commander of the North's missile forces, dismissed Trump's "fire and fury" remarks as "a load of nonsense," according to Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency. "Sound dialogue is not possible with such a guy bereft of reason," he added. The military was expected to finalize its Guam plan by mid-August and submit it to Kim for consideration, he said. The unusually precise statement said the four missiles would be launched simultaneously and overfly the Japanese prefectures of Shimane, Hiroshima and Kochi. They would have a flight time of 17 minutes 45 seconds, travel 3,356.7 kilometers (around 2,086 miles) and come down 30 to 40 kilometers away from Guam, it said -- just outside US territorial waters. Japan, which has in the past warned it would shoot down any North Korean missiles that threaten its territory, responded that it could "never tolerate" provocations from the reclusive state. Professor Yang Moo-Jin of Seoul's University of North Korean Studies said the level of detail in Pyongyang's statement was unusual. "The North appears to be saying what it is going to do is within international laws," he told AFP. "Therefore, it cannot be ruled out that the North may translate this plan into reality." Life and death Analysts said a North Korean launch towards Guam would put the US in a dilemma: if it did not try to intercept the missiles, its credibility would be damaged and the North would feel emboldened to carry out a full-range ICBM test. But if an intercept were attempted and failed in any way, it would undermine the effectiveness of the United States' ballistic missile defense system. Tensions on the Korean peninsula tend to increase when Seoul and Washington launch major military joint exercises, and the next, Ulchi Freedom Guardian, is set to kick off around August 21. "Pyongyang's interpretation of rhetoric from Washington is different from the way the West regards the North's habitual threats," said Hong Hyun-Ik, a senior researcher with the Sejong Institute. "It views such fiery rhetoric from Trump as a matter of life and death." Thousands of North Koreans marched through central Pyongyang Wednesday, waving clenched fists, as authorities put on a show of support for their stance. One banner proclaimed: "10 million hearts burn with vows to defend the fatherland until death."
  21. North Korea said it was finalizing plans to fire four intermediate-range missiles over Japan to land 30-40 km from Guam SEOUL/GUAM: North Korea dismissed as a "load of nonsense" warnings by US President Donald Trump that it would face "fire and fury" if it threatened the United States, and outlined on Thursday detailed plans for a missile strike near the Pacific territory of Guam. North Korea's apparently rapid progress in developing nuclear weapons and missiles capable of reaching the US mainland has fueled tensions that erupted into a war of words between Washington and Pyongyang this week, unnerving regional powers and global investors. Trump's unexpected remarks prompted North Korea to say on Thursday it was finalizing plans to fire four intermediate-range missiles over Japan to land 30-40 km (18-25 miles) from Guam, adding detail to a plan first announced on Wednesday. An aerial view of US Naval Base, Guam, September 20, 2006. US Navy/Handout/File Photo via REUTERS Guam, more than 3,000 km (2,000 miles) to the southeast of North Korea, is home to about 163,000 people and a US Navy base that includes a submarine squadron and a Coast Guard group, and an air base. "Sound dialogue is not possible with such a guy bereft of reason and only absolute force can work on him," a report by the North's state-run KCNA news agency said of Trump. The army will complete its plans in mid-August, ready for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's order, KCNA reported, citing General Kim Rak Gyom, commander of the Strategic Force of the Korean People's Army. While North Korea regularly threatens to destroy the United States and its allies, the report was unusual in its detail. US warns North Korea that nuclear drive could spell end of regime Trump's comments triggered expressions of concern from China Masao Okonogi, professor emeritus at Japan's Keio University, said before the latest KCNA report that Pyongyang may be issuing a warning or advance notice of changes to its missile testing program rather than threatening an attack. "I believe this is a message saying they plan to move missile tests from the Sea of Japan to areas around Guam," he told Reuters. "By making this advance notice, they are also sending a tacit message that what they are going to do is not an actual attack." Experts said the detail provided by North Korea made it likely it would follow through with its plans to avoid being seen as weak or lacking in resolve.
  22. WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump on Wednesday ratcheted up his war of words with North Korea, declaring that America's nuclear arsenal was "more powerful than ever" - even as his team insisted there was no imminent threat of danger. Hours after putting Pyongyang on notice that it faced "fire and fury" over its weapons and ballistic missile programs, Trump took to Twitter to issue another stark warning. But after North Korea said it was considering a missile strike near the US Pacific territory of Guam, Trump's top diplomat delivered a message of reassurance to its residents and military personnel as he made a stop-over on the island. Trump's "fire and fury" comments on Tuesday had triggered expressions of concern from China as well as from US allies. On Wednesday, stock markets and the dollar slipped as investors sought safe-haven investments. Trump's early morning tweets - written from New Jersey, where he is on vacation for two weeks - did little to calm frayed nerves. "My first order as President was to renovate and modernise our nuclear arsenal. It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before," Trump wrote. "Hopefully we will never have to use this power, but there will never be a time that we are not the most powerful nation in the world!" Americans should sleep well Trump's language towards North Korea has become increasingly hard-edged since Pyongyang carried out a pair of successful intercontinental ballistic missile tests (ICBM) in July, which put the US mainland in range for the first time. Source: AFP Guam - a 210-square-mile dot in the Pacific that is home to some 6,000 US troops - would be a far easier target were North Korea to confirm its position as a fully-fledged nuclear power. Pyongyang's KCNA state news agency reported Wednesday that plans were being drawn up for missile strikes against Guam that could be put into action at "any moment" after North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un gives the order. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who refuelled in Guam on Wednesday while flying back home from Southeast Asia, said Trump was determined to send an unequivocal message to his North Korean counterpart. "What the president is doing is sending a strong message to North Korea in language that Kim Jong-Un would understand, because he doesn't seem to understand diplomatic language," he said. Tillerson, however, said that he did not believe "there is any imminent threat" to Guam or other US targets and hoped that diplomatic pressure would prevail in the crisis. "I think Americans should sleep well at night, have no concerns about this particular rhetoric of the last few days," Tillerson said. The island's governor Eddie Calvo reassured residents there was currently "no threat" to the territory, which has a total population of more than 160,000 and houses two US military installations. In the capital Hagatna, islanders kept their cool. "It's not like there's anything we can do anyway. This is a small island. There's nowhere to run to," resident James Cruz said AFP. Rapid progress Experts have long differed over the North's exact capabilities but all agree it has made rapid progress under Kim. Last month, Pyongyang carried out its first two successful ICBM launches, the first - described by Kim as a gift to "American bastards" - showing it could reach Alaska, and the second extending its range even further, with some experts suggesting New York could be vulnerable. On Tuesday, The Washington Post quoted a US Defense Intelligence Agency analysis as saying officials think North Korea now has "nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery" - including by its ICBMs - making it a potent threat against neighbors and possibly the United States. The Pentagon did not comment on the story, but the Post said two US officials familiar with the analysis had verified the assessment's broad conclusions, and CNN said it had confirmed the report. The North's current ability to launch an accurate nuclear strike remains open to question, with analysts suggesting it has yet to overcome some major technical hurdles. After Kim's second ICBM test, some experts said it appeared the "re-entry vehicle" that would carry a warhead back into Earth's atmosphere from space had failed in the intense heat. US officials have repeatedly said this year that military action against the North was an "option on the table," though Tillerson said nothing had "dramatically changed" in the military equation in the past 24 hours. The UN Security Council unanimously approved a series of sanctions over the weekend which could cost North Korea $1 billion a year, with even the regime's main ally China voting for the US-drafted proposal. While the sanctions vote was seen as a diplomatic triumph for the US, there is widespread unease about the ramping up in tensions. The North's main ally China warned against "words and actions" that would stoke tensions, while Germany said it was watching the "increasing rhetorical escalation" with concern. France meanwhile praised Trump's "determination" in standing up to Pyongyang. Republican US Senator John McCain said Trump should tread carefully when speaking about the North, telling a US radio station: "All it's going to do is bring us closer to some kind of serious confrontation."
  23. This video grab image ? obtained July 25, 2017, courtesy of the US Navy ? shows an IRGCN boat heading towards the USS Thunderbolt in the Gulf. AFP/US Navy/Handout WASHINGTON: A US Navy patrol ship fired warning shots Tuesday at an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps boat in the Persian Gulf as it closed in on the American vessel, officials said. The shots were fired after the Iranian vessel came to within 150 yards of the USS Thunderbolt and failed to respond to repeated attempts to reach it via radio, then ignored warning flares and a series of blasts on the US ship's whistle, the Navy said in a statement. "The Iranian vessel's actions were not in accordance with the internationally recognised? 'rules of the road' nor internationally recognised maritime customs, creating a risk for collision," the statement read, noting that the Iranians had conducted an "unsafe and unprofessional" interaction. The incident occurred at about 3:00 AM local time (0500 PST) in the northern Persian Gulf. After the US ship fired the warning shots, the Iranian vessel stopped, officials said, at which point the Thunderbolt continued on her way. The episode marks the latest in a series of close encounters between US ships and Iranian naval vessels. In January, the USS Mahan destroyer fired warning shots at four Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessels that approached at high speed in the Strait of Hormuz. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps is a paramilitary force that answers directly to the Islamic republic's supreme leader. The force's boats periodically approach US warships in international waters and the Strait of Hormuz, ignoring US radio messages and giving little indication of their intentions. In January 2016, the Iranians briefly captured the crew of two small US patrol boats that strayed into Iranian waters. The 10 US sailors were released 24 hours later. Tuesday's incident comes as the US Congress votes on a new sanctions bill against Russia. The measure also includes sanctions against Iran and the IRGC navy ? which stands accused of supporting terrorism ? and North Korea, for its missile tests.
  24. A US Navy ship fired warning shots when an Iranian vessel in the Gulf came within 150 yards (137 meters) on Tuesday in the first such incident since President Donald Trump took office in January, a US official told Reuters. The last major incident was earlier in January, though there have been other instances when a US vessel fired a flare and another event in March when a US Navy ship was forced to change course after multiple fast-attack vessels from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard came too close. The US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the USS Thunderbolt fired the warning shots after the Iranian vessel approached at a high rate of speed and ignored radio calls, flares and the ship´s whistle. The Thunderbolt was accompanied by several US Coast Guard vessels. The Iranian vessel appeared to be from Iran´s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the official said, adding that it was armed but that the weapons were unmanned. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Iranian Foreign Ministry could not immediately be reached for comment. Years of mutual animosity had eased when Washington lifted sanctions on Tehran last year as part of a deal to curb Iran´s nuclear ambitions. But serious differences remain over Iran´s ballistic missile program and conflicts in Syria and Iraq. The Trump administration, which has struck a hard line on Iran, recently declared that Iran was complying with its nuclear agreement with world powers, but warned that Tehran was not following the spirit of the accord and that Washington would look for ways to strengthen it. During the presidential campaign last September, Trump vowed that any Iranian vessels that harass the US Navy in the Gulf would be "shot out of the water." Such incidents occur occasionally. In January, a US Navy destroyer fired three warning shots at four Iranian fast-attack vessels near the Strait of Hormuz after they closed in at high speed and disregarded repeated requests to slow down.
  25. German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a session at the lower house of parliament Bundestag to deliver State of the Nation Address ahead of EU Summit and G20 in Berlin, Germany, June 29, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch BERLIN/WASHINGTON: German Chancellor Angela Merkel promised to fight for free trade and press on with multilateral efforts to combat climate change at the G20 summit next week, challenging the "America First" policies of US President Donald Trump. In a defiant speech to parliament a week before she is set to host a summit of the world's top economic powers in Hamburg ? the northern port city where she was born, Merkel did not mention Trump by name but said global problems could not be solved with protectionism and isolation. Her remarks raised the prospect of an open clash with Trump at the summit. She later met with the European G20 leaders, who promised to present a united front in Hamburg, while making clear they preferred compromise to conflict. "These will not be easy talks," Merkel said. "The differences are obvious and it would be wrong to pretend they aren't there. I simply won't do this." The G20 summit will be held a little over a month after a G7 summit in Sicily exposed deep divisions between other western countries and Trump on climate change, trade and migration. A short while later, Trump announced he was pulling the United States out of a landmark agreement to combat climate change reached in 2015 in Paris. Ahead of the G20 summit, Trump's administration has threatened to take punitive trade measures against China, including introducing tariffs on steel imports. This has made for an unusually tense atmosphere before the summit and German officials acknowledge they have little idea what the final communique will look like. Asked about Merkel's comments, Trump's national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said the US relationship with Germany was "as strong as ever" and played down the discord. "Of course there are going to be differences in relations with any country, and we'll talk frankly about those differences. The president enjoys those conversations," McMaster told reporters. The German hosts face a difficult challenge. Along with Trump, Russia's Vladimir Putin and Turkey's Tayyip Erdogan will be attending. All have strained relations with Merkel and other European leaders. The summit, in a convention centre in the heart of Hamburg, could also be disrupted by tens of thousands of protesters expected to descend on the city of 1.7 million. Existential challenge Merkel said she was "more determined than ever" to make the Paris accord a success since Trump's decision to pull out, calling climate change an "existential challenge". "We cannot wait until every last person on Earth has been convinced of the scientific proof," she said. "Anybody who believes the problems of the world can be solved with isolationism and protectionism is making a big mistake," Merkel said. Trump looks forward to discussing his economic rationale for quitting the deal during his G20 meetings, said Gary Cohn, his top economic adviser. "He?s going to ask for a fair and level playing field. We cannot be in a position where the United States is cutting and cutting emissions while others continue to grow," Cohn told reporters. French President Emmanuel Macron, in Berlin for the meeting of EU leaders, which included the prime ministers of Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, and Britain, said he hoped the United States would "return to reason" on climate. But he also stressed that it made little sense to try to isolate Trump in Hamburg. "The relationship with the United States is a long-term one and it is deep," Macron said. "I believe we must continue an intense dialogue with the United States because of these ties which are historic and enduring." At Macron's invitation, Trump will visit Paris a week after the July 7-8 G20 summit for Bastille Day celebrations. They spoke by phone on Tuesday and agreed to work together to respond to any new chemical attacks from the Syrian government. Donald Tusk, the former Polish prime minister who chairs summits of EU leaders, said in Berlin that European countries would speak with one voice in Hamburg, defending the rules-based international order that Trump has called into question.