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  1. Diwali isn't like any other festival that Indians celebrate. Unlike the others that are celebrated only by respective communities, Diwali seems more like a celebration everyone is excited to participate in regardless of who they are, where they are and other similar factors some might consider of importance. Now, because Diwali happens to be so popular with the masses, the festival is celebrated with equal fervour even outside the country. Be it special Diwali fairs, to lighting up prominent buildings or dance fests, major countries around the world went all out to celebrate Diwali. Here are our top 5 picks of how Diwali was celebrated outside the country. 1. The United States Of America The US is home to millions of Indians who now call this place their homeland. However, regardless of their feelings of belonging, Indians as well as Americans in the US celebrate the festival of lights with a lot of warmth and zeal. Seen here, US President Donald Trump celebrated Diwali in the White House with Indian American staff, and sent his best wishes to everybody who were celebrating the festival. Even the iconic Empire State Building lit up in orange hues on the occasion of Diwali. What better way to celebrate #Diwali—the festival of lights-than with some lights of our own! Together with @FIANYNJCTorg, we'll be shining in orange tonight to celebrate. #MyDiwaliESBPhoto ð·: brunoboni/IG pic.twitter.com/gX1PE3ugg8 — Empire State Building (@EmpireStateBldg) October 26, 2019 2. England The United Kingdom is known for its sizeable Indian diaspora. So, keeping up with the demands of the festival, the country lights up to celebrate with fellow Indians on its land. The city of Leicester is known to hold one of the largest Diwali celebrations outside India, where their annual festival 'Diwali Lights Switch On' is highly popular. View this post on Instagram . City of heart! City of culture! This is Leicester - My Leicester ð . #thisisleicester #myleicester #Leicester #Leicestershire #leicestermercury #leicestercity #throwback #diwaliinuk #belgraveroad #goldenmile #lights #cityatnight #nightscape #nightphotography #nightbeforediwali #decoration #lights #nightphotos #topshot #quietnight #moodygrams #Nikon #d3s #photography #instagram #instadaily #igersuk A post shared by YσgιÑα PαÑνιη ÑαυÑ ð (@rautyogita) on Nov 3, 2016 at 5:28pm PDT Look at the all decked-up Wheel of Light at Leicester. View this post on Instagram The wheel of lights at Leicester !! Diwali celebrations !! #leicester #leicestercity #uk #unitedkingdom #nightphotography #diwali #diwali2019 #diwaliinuk #diwalimela #diwalimela2019 #wheeloflight #wheeloflights #lights #festivaloflights #indianfestival #festiveseason #festival #celebration #phonephotography A post shared by Balaji Kannan (@kpvbalaji) on Oct 21, 2019 at 2:18pm PDT Also, the Diwali celebrations in London which happens annually at Trafalgar Square in London on 3rd November is very popular with the people. © london.gov.uk 3. United Arab Emirates UAE's most popular emirate Dubai is known for all things larger than life, so how could the city let the festival of Diwali go by unnoticed? On the occasion of Diwali, Dubai saw city-wide celebrations which included fireworks, performances by Bollywood icons, festive markets, and an exclusive debut show called Haathi's Garden. 4. Malaysia Brickfields in Kuala Lumpur, also known as Little India had a stellar show of lights and fireworks on the occasion of Diwali. With the entire street dressed in twinkling lights, and an incredible show of fireworks that bought the entire place to a standstill was surely the highlight. View this post on Instagram Happy Diwali ð¥ð¥ð¥ A post shared by Jarell Kumar (@jarellkumar) on Oct 26, 2019 at 9:48am PDT 5. Australia Another country that pretty much doubles up as the home turf for a ton of Indians, also saw a remarkable Diwali celebration. The Melbourne Diwali Festival fireworks were surely mesmerizing. View the full article
  2. The International Space Station, as we all know, is currently the only fully functional space station in the Earth's lower orbit. It's the result of a partnership between European countries represented by the European Space Agency the United States, Japan, Canada, and Russia. Well, looks like there's going to be another space station by the year 2030 and it's going to be launched by none other than India. The same has been confirmed by the ISRO chief K Sivan during a press conference where he also talked a bit more about the project. © Reuters He made it a point to inform that India will not be joining the International Space Station (ISS) and launch its own space station, which will be an extension of the Gaganyaan project. “We have to sustain the Gaganyaan programme. So, subsequently, as a long-term plan, we are planning to have the space station in India. We are going to join the international community in manned missions to the moon, asteroids. We have a clear plan for the space programme,” Sivan said. The proposed space station will likely weigh 20 tonnes and it's said to be used for conducting microgravity experiments. India is targetting 2030 as the date to launch the space station and the preliminary plan is for the space station is to accommodate astronauts for up to 15-20 days in space. We still don't have a lot of details, but we hope to learn more after the completion of Gaganyaan mission. © Reuters As for the Gaganyaan mission, the government is said to have cleared a budget of Rs. 10,000 crore. It looks like there will be two flights from Sriharikota before the maiden flight with crew takes of sometime in 2022. ISRO's complete focus right now is on India's second moon mission, Chandrayan -2. It will take off on July 15 and will attempt to land near the South Pole of the Moon, which has remained an uncharted territory so far. You can learn more about the Chandrayan-2 mission right here.
  3. The recent Ethiopian Airlines crash has once again put the Boeing MAX 8 aircraft in the spotlight. Just five months ago, another MAX 8 being operated by Lion Air crashed, taking the total toll to 346. Aviation is statistically the safest mode of transport, and two crashes within such a short period are alarming. Following the crash, more than 40 countries have grounded the aircraft until further investigations are carried out and changes are made. India's DGCA has also grounded the aircraft and currently Spicejet and Jet Airways operate the plane. With more than 400 aircrafts on order from Indian carriers, the MAX 8 plays a pivotal role in boosting India's aviation market. © Utkarsh Thakkar / @vimanspotter Boeing's MAX series is the successor of 737 Next Generation family (737-700/800/900), and the company is relying on it to churn out profits. Even Boeing has been making aircraft for decades, and its expertise is often unmatched. So, the only question that arises is, how can a modern airliner be this unsafe? The MAX series was Boeing's response to Airbus's A320 NEO family. NEO stands for New Engine Option and while the fuselage remains unchanged, the engines are completely revamped to offer better-operating efficiency. Regional airlines worldwide require planes that are cheaper to operate, especially when aviation fuel is extremely dynamic globally. To compete with the NEO, Boeing started the MAX series and offered up to 14 percent more efficient engines along with increased cabin comfort. But, this came with a small challenge. © Boeing The Ethiopian crash investigation will take months to conclude, but initial data suggest striking similarity between the two crashes. The preliminary report on Lion Air crash is out, and we'll be relying on it to understand MAX 8's major flaw. The MAX 8 is powered by CFM's Leap 1B engines and they are significantly bigger than the previous CFM 56 engines (used in the 737 NG). Adding to this, the 737 was designed decades back and has an exceedingly low ground clearance when compared to the A320. To perfectly fit the new heavier and bigger engines, Boeing had to make minor changes in the design ranging from lengthening the landing gear to moving the engine slightly forward. © Aviation International News It was found that the bigger engine meant the plane handled certain situations differently and there was also a slight shift in the centre of gravity. The relocation and new engine design created an upward movement, nudging the plane's nose upwards. If the nose is lifted sharply, the plane will continue gaining altitude and could also stall mid-air. A stall is when an aeroplane cannot generate enough lift to continue flying. To compensate this upward movement, Boeing added a new system called MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System) that prevented the plane from raising its noise to extreme levels. The system would automatically adjust the horizontal stabilizer and bring down the nose. To make these adjustments, MCAS relies on data from the Angle of Attack sensors. © Wikimedia (AoA sensor for reference) These sensors are located on the nose of the aircraft and calculate the angle at which the plane is climbing or descending in comparison to the oncoming air. In the case of Lion Air, faulty sensors triggered the MCAS and automatically the system tried to bring the nose down. According to the flight data recorder, automated MCAS repeatedly pushed the plane's nose down following take-off. The most surprising part of the MCAS though is Boeing hasn't mentioned the addition of this system during pilot training or manuals. This meant the pilot were unaware that a programmed system is trying to bring down the nose. Even if the pilots tried to takeover manual controls, MCAS cannot be simply stopped by moving the yoke. They need to manually trim the aircraft to gain control, but how will they know this procedure when the existence of MCAS is unknown to them? © Reuters The Lion Air pilot had more than 5,000 hours of experience and the Ethiopian pilot had more than 8,000 hours. Preliminary reports do not point towards any kind of crew error. Reports say pilots have in the past complained about a similar nose-down anomaly in FAA's database (US regulator) as well. Following the Lion Air crash, Boeing issued a bulletin to airlines operating the 737 MAX 8 advising pilots how to override the MCAS system. This week, the plane maker also announced it's working on a long-term plan to rejig the system and update shall be applied in the coming months. © Reuters We'll have to wait for the Ethiopian crash report to clear the air whether it was the same MCAS issue that caused the incident, or are there any other flaws in the airliner. Boeing has described the MAX series as its fastest-selling family of planes, with more than 5,000 orders placed to date from about 100 customers. The last time an aircraft suffered successive fatal incidents was the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 in the 70s. With inputs from preliminary report of Indonesian National Transportation Safety Committee and FlightRadar24
  4. Some people wait for movies or series to release, people like me wait for food to be delivered, some have been waiting for 'achhe din', and then there are iPhone lovers whose sole purpose in life is to wait for the next iPhone model to drop in the market. There has always been some kind of infectious air around iPhones that draws people towards it. Seriously, who doesn't dream of taking out an iPhone to click selfies or just casually check the time? Despite getting a tough competition from companies that are offering more features at a considerably lower price, Apple continues to rule the market and every buyer's heart irrespective of its cost. Pexels Talking about its price, affordability has always been a matter of concern and funny memes. In India, the basic model of iPhone X is priced between Rs 89,000 and Rs 1,02,000 and unless you earn so and so lakhs per month, you will have to work for a couple of months to purchase one. But, thanks to a Swiss financial company named UBS and their interesting research, we now know that we need to move to Zurich or New York soon because it takes less than a week to own an iPhone there. UBS This research was to find out the cost of living and average salaries of people, and that's how we came to know how many days one has to work to own an iPhone, across the world. Here's the complete list - Zurich (4.7 working days), New York (6.7 Working Days), Auckland (8.6), Hong Kong (9.4), Munich (10.1) London (11.3), Helsinki (11.8), Tel Aviv (12.7), Dubai (13.4), Panama City (18.7), Johannesburg (36.4 Working Days), Moscow (37.3 Working Days), Beijing (39.3), Lima (48.2), Nairobi (72.2), Lagos (133.3). While Zurich tops the list with 4.7 working days, India is nowhere to be seen. So folks, let's go back to laughing at the "iPhone = cost of a kidney" jokes while calculating how many decades it will take us to own one. Source: Times Now
  5. US Defense Secretary James Mattis. Photo: ReutersUS Defense Secretary James Mattis on Friday spoke in support of waivers for sanctions being imposed against nations buying military gear from Russia.The move comes amid concerns that imposing...
  6. We often complain about not having enough speed on 4G smartphones, however, have you ever wondered if we never had access to it at all? Cuba, a hardened communist community never allowed access to mobile internet, and has finally started to roll it out to its citizens. © Pexels It's a huge step for the little Caribbean island country that has a population of 11.5 million people. The national telecom firm, ETECSA plans to roll out access to the service by the end of 2018. At least half of the country's population will get access to mobile internet before the end of the year. Before the eventual rollout, it is prudent to point out that most of Cuba's citizens relied on a local service called “El Paquete Semanal” (the Weekly Package) to receive world news. Citizens would also resort to YouTube videos, smartphone apps and pirated movies through data traffickers that would cost money every week. © Youtube Cuba has always restricted access to the internet services and Reuters reports that until 2013, one could only get online by visiting select hotels. The connectivity would always be slow and cost $2 an hour. As of now, there are nearly 400 government run Wi-Fi hotspots available for citizens as well as cybercafes. In the past, Cubans have been able to gain access to the internet for their homes, however, even they are being asked to wait. © Pexels But not everything is rosy, as Cuba only has 3G mobile internet available as of now, which means that Cubans will not have access to the high-speed mobile internet like we get here in India. Data packages also cost a lot in Cuba as embassies reportedly pay $45 a month for 4G of data. That is an extremely high tariff considering the average state monthly wage is $30. When compared to India, some of the lowest tariff rates in the world are offered for 4G internet plans, where companies like Jio have been able to disrupt the market. It is expected that as mobile internet is made readily available for Cuba's citizens, prices are expected to drop soon. Source: Reuters
  7. The seventh-most populous country is also one of the youngest in the world, with the majority of citizens under the age of 22. Photo: AFP Pakistan ranks number 22 among the list of the world's 25 most powerful countries.In a report published...
  8. No matter where you go on a vacation, it usually means to let loose and have a great time. Wherever you head, that place is supposed to make you feel safe, since you're stepping away from your comfort zone and into an alien space altogether. But, there are some fabulous tourist attractions around the globe, that unfortunately, are a threat to the tourist population of the world and India happens to be one of them! © Pinterest Yes, it's an unfortunate piece of information that we received through a recent Reddit thread and we couldn't be more heartbroken. But we're not alone in this absolutely disheartening revelation, as there are other countries that tourists don't want to go back to, because of certain issues they faced. Here Are The 10 Most Dreaded Countries For Tourists: (1) India © Twitter So, begging is a bigger issue faced by the tourists here than anything else. It was not corruption nor any kind of sexual violence, but the begging industry that changed one tourist's opinion about the country, for it to be listed in the Reddit thread! "In India I gave food to a small girl. When we left the restaurant I witnessed a gang of men attack, beat and then take the bread from her. I felt, and still do feel pretty shitty about that. That's why the host told me to give her leftovers, not an untouched meal I bought. Because chances are much higher that they would let her keep it if it were leftovers. It was off the plate about midway through the meal. I'd consider that leftovers. Even I have the tact not to hand out whole meals to people in the streets like that. But apparently, I was not cognizant enough of just how bad it was." And obviously, an Indian came to the rescue to validate the foreigner's point further. "Yes I am Indian and we have the same problem. One day a little boy asked me for money I asked him if he would instead eat something. His eyes lit up. Since that day if I saw that little boy in that area I would pay a local place for his meal and leave him there. He knew roughly what time I get back from office so sometimes he would wait for me. It's been a year or a year and a half since I saw him last. Sometimes I just look around to see if he is around. I think he would be 10-11 now. May the gangs moved him to some other area or put him in some other business." Here's another one. Jesus, we're doomed! "The oppressive climate, abject poverty, constant crowds and absolute lack of hygiene and cleanliness standards prevent me from wanting to go back there willingly." (2) Honduras © Pinterest The tourists usually talk about a lot of crime that takes place there and even though it's an exotic South American Island, the crime rate keeps the tourists off bounds. "A cousin had her quince before it turned it to the most (if not one of the most) crime-ridden country (excluding extremist actions) in the world. My cousin once saw a man shooting at an abandoned building for no reason in San Pedro Sula (Honduran equivalent of NY) and the police didn't do anything about it. "A friend of mine and his dad went to Honduras sometime in 2015. He says that he saw a poor man getting beaten by the police for trying to steal a piece of fruit." Ouch!! (3) Egypt © Pinterest Apparently, the Egyptians have a terrible code of conduct. I mean, they just don't know how to behave. "A friend of mine went to Egypt and told us that people tried to trade goats for his sister." Seriously? "Glad I saw the historic sites, would never want to deal with the people again." Well, duh. If you're gunning after women tourists, in exchange for goats, people will freak out a bit. "They are rude, ignorant and have no sense of decency. I met maybe one or two nice Egyptians whilst I was there. They will try to steal, cheat or con you out of your money at any chance they can get, constantly shout racist, sexist and vulgar things at you as you pass them by, regardless of the location and regardless of what you're currently doing. God forbid you go there and are female; I cannot count the times that an Egyptian came up to someone I knew and groped, inappropriately hit on, or screamed abuses at if they didn't give them what they wanted. I watched a group of men, probably in their forties, make sexual advances on a 12-year-old girl." (4) Bahamas © Pinterest Can you imagine a place like the Bahamas, being a tourist threat? Whatever happened to "Aruba, Jamaica, oh I want to take you to Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama"? Well, apparently the locals despise tourists in the Bahamas (xenophobia much?), which is actually quite counterproductive since their economy runs on tourism. Well, most of it does. "I really did not like the Bahamas. Beautiful place, but the vibe I got from the locals was very much 'if it weren't for your tourist dollars we'd rather you weren't here at all.' Everybody had their hand out for a tip. Everybody was working an angle. Everybody looked like they hated to have to deal with tourists.". (5) Philippines © Twitter Well, apart from the begging mafia, *** trade is quite prevalent in the Philippines. It's tragic really. "I found the people to be very nice but there is a lot of poverty which means people do whatever they can to get by. A factory worker puts in 8-12 hours of work and makes what a person in the US would make in 1-2 hours at minimum wage. The *** trade is very prevalent; many "joiners" (prostitutes) are barely legal farm girls who were sent by their parents to sell themselves to make money for the family. It is incredibly sad". (6) Iran © Pinterest This guy faced some grave political unrest. V for Vendetta? "I wish I never went there. It was my first year there and by chance, it was the time of presidential elections or something. There were people marching like zombies with the 'V' Sign rebelling the decision. Bullets, riots, fire and so much violence. It was like an aftermath of a Sci-Fi movie scene. HORRIBLE." (7) Brazil © YouTube I reckon the only good thing going for Brazil right now, is football. Don't you think? This one is savage AF. "Had to live there 6+ months because of my job. You don't want to work with Brazilians, you're f*cked if you have to. Everything is expensive even if you have a stronger currency. Crime, corruption, and violence is widespread, there's no safe place there. There's poverty and it's dirty all around. People are lazy, stupid, loud. Nothing works, it's hot as f*ck. The only positive thing is the prostitution. You can nail amazing looking women hourly for only 50/75 bucks. General women (not hookers) will also hit on you nonstop if you're white, not fat, American/Canadian or from a rich European country. Rio de Janeiro is a shit hole too, even worse than Sao Paolo. I can't imagine how they made it to hosting the Olympics. Even with the p*ssy easy, never again Brazil." (8) Jamaica © YouTube Wait a minute, someone tried to sell this guy weed, THE ENTIRE TIME! I mean, really, that upsets you? Well... "Went with a friend on a cruise and that was our first stop. It was mentioned somewhere else in here about the Bahamas that everyone has their hand out looking for a tip. That is exactly how Jamaica is, except they try to scam you and sell you weed the entire time (which would be GREAT if I smoked...) Took a tour ride in a tiny bus around the island and realized how absolutely poor that country is. Never again." (9) Thailand © Pinterest So, apparently, people are not happy with the bedding available there (ironically so) and no one seems to mind underage *** there...just the weather conditions. "Thailand was too humid and people were so pushy. Also, the beds were hard like a box spring, I didn't sleep well for 5 days and it made the heat worse to deal with." "I went to Thailand and booked a mid-range hotel that also has hotels in India so I was aware it is a good chain. They had basic clean rooms, good food and the staff was ever eager to help us out. We had to bargain for everything but I am Indian, so quite used to that behavior. Also, I kind of expected to pay more than the regular price of things because that's how tourist places are. But yes, the heat was intolerable and we went in November when it's supposed to be somewhat cool but it was pretty hot and humid. The evenings and the nights by the beach were pretty great though." (10) North Korea © YouTube Seriously though, who takes a vacation in North Korea? Seriously judging this one. "You're with a government tour guide, the entire time and they mainly ferry you from one fake attraction to the next." Umm, dude, what did you expect? So, there we have it. 10 most criticised countries by tourists, on Reddit! If you're ever planning a vacation, maybe do some better research on these countries, than these guys did?
  9. LAHORE: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) spokesman Fawad Chaudhry Monday alleged that former premier Nawaz Sharif owns properties in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.Speaking at a press conference here,...
  10. Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India have experienced the steepest increases in air pollution levels since 2010. Photo: AFP A report published by the Health Effects Institute, says that 95 per cent of the world?s population breathes dangerous...
  11. Photo: ReutersISLAMABAD: The Minister for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Saira Afzal Tarar on Wednesday informed the Senate that Pakistan was ranked 54th amongst 84 countries with high prevalence of tobacco smoking.The...
  12. The Russian foreign ministry building is reflected in an ambassadors' car in Moscow, Russia March 30, 2018. Photo: REUTERS MOSCOW: Russia expelled 59 diplomats from 23 countries on Friday and said it reserved the right to take action against...
  13. Now, this is a story of 'around the world in slightly more than 80 days'. Redefining road trip goals, two guys travelled through 5 continents, covering 35 countries in just nine months. Now, I don't know for sure, but that does seem like some kind of a world record. And, moreover, how f*cking cool is it? My today's ride in #Vietnam @debasshish A post shared by Debasshish Ghosh (@oneworldoneride) on Feb 27, 2018 at 6:13pm PST Bikers Debasshish Ghosh and Dharmendra Jain started their 'One World, One Ride' journey from Bandra on June 10th last year on their BMW GS1200, and returned home last weekend after 270 days, completing a road trip of a lifetime. Their 68,000 km took them possibly everywhere, and I'm not going to lie, this is honestly goals. Side note – anyone up for a road trip? Finally we complete our second leg and end of 4th continent. Australia here we come. A post shared by Debasshish Ghosh (@oneworldoneride) on Jan 14, 2018 at 11:23am PST Talking about their adventurous journey, Debasshish Ghosh said, “This iconic journey took us across India and its northeast, Southeast Asia, Far East, China, Mongolia, Russia, Europe, then the US by shipping the bike, going again to Australia, and back to the ASEAN belt before returning to Mumbai.” While talking to mid-day (https://www.mid-day.com/articles/mumbai-biker-returns-after-riding-68000-km-across-five-continents/19244168 ), he said, “Someone said that an Indian won't be able to ride across the world — obviously because of all the passport constraints that come along — but I took this as a challenge. Sure, the Indian passport doesn't carry the same weight as a US passport. When I told authorities that I was going on a world trip on my motorcycle, nobody would believe it. In India, we have this law according to which we have to apply for visa at least three months prior to travel. Going by this, doing a world trip is impossible. That's why you have to time the trip accordingly.” On our to #puno #oneworldoneride #bmwmotorradindia #bmwmotorrad #clearwaterlights #heidenautyres #worldride #worldrider A post shared by Debasshish Ghosh (@oneworldoneride) on Jan 6, 2018 at 3:46pm PST Apparently, their journey was mostly smooth, without any major incidents. Dharmendra Jain once fell off the bike while speeding at 150kmph in Russia, but thankfully escaped with just some minor injuries. Ghosh added, “In Russia, we were thrilled to meet the world-renowned biker Marcel Killer and he accompanied us on the entire Russia leg till we left that country's borders at Estonia… It was a very enjoyable part of him showing us around for 15 days that he spent with us. However, on the food front, we had to adapt as per the local availability in small restaurants or homes of villagers… We ate whatever we got in the route and converted to non-vegetarians.” Entered #ecuador #oneworldoneride A post shared by Debasshish Ghosh (@oneworldoneride) on Dec 25, 2017 at 6:18pm PST Any guesses on which was the toughest country that he rode through? India, obviously. He said, “Without a doubt, India. If you can ride in India, you can ride anywhere in the world. No one's really following any traffic rules.” I agree, completely. He also added, “When I entered into the Indian border — that was the most emotional moment for me. I guess my next emotional moment will be when I will see my mother and sister back home in Mumbai.” Reached #sanfransisco #oneworldoneride #heidenautyres #bmwmotorradindia #bmwmotorrad #clearwaterlights A post shared by Debasshish Ghosh (@oneworldoneride) on Nov 2, 2017 at 10:00pm PDT Now, if this doesn't motivate to make your road trip dreams a reality, then I don't know what will.
  14. Imran addressing supporters today. Photo: Geo News GUJRAT: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairperson Imran Khan, continuing his tirade against former premier Nawaz Sharif, said on Tuesday that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Leader is duping people. "Everyone knows what goes on in the police stations in Punjab," the PTI chief claimed. "Allah has given the nation everything. The day we improve the country?s system, only then will we progress," he said while addressing party supporters here. The PTI chief is visiting towns and cities across the country to aid the party's ongoing membership campaign. "Nations prosper when they spend money on people, not on roads," said the PTI chief. "The day a student from Tanda becomes the country's prime minister, only then can we achieve great things," he said further. The PTI chief said the government must invest in the people for a brighter future.
  15. Chinese battery maker Tianneng Group's office. Photo: Tianneng Chinese battery maker Tianneng Group is considering setting up a factory in South or Southeast Asia to tap local demand, while expanding capacity in China by 20 percent this year because of the electric vehicle boom, its chairman said on Thursday. Zhang Tianren told Reuters that Tianneng, which mostly makes lead-acid batteries used in electric scooters and cars, was considering Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Pakistan and Bangladesh as destinations for a plant with an annual processing capacity of at least 100,000 tonnes. ?These [countries] are all relatively good,? Zhang, a delegate at the National People?s Congress in Beijing, said in an interview. ?We might want to go and have a look at several countries. If they have good conditions, open a factory.? A lot of small and middle-sized Chinese battery companies have already gone over to South or Southeast Asia because of the 4 percent consumption tax on lead-acid batteries in China, he noted. ?It?s very hard for a lot of companies to bear. The pressure is very big,? he said. The migration mirrors one in China?s scrap metal sector, where new restrictions on imports of solid waste and a need for importers to prove they are end-users of the material have prompted scrap firms to set up shop in South or Southeast Asia instead.
  16. European countries had the most powerful passports in the world for several years and dominated the Passport Index. That has now changed as two Asian countries are now leading the pack. In the Passport Index 2018, Singapore and South Korea are ranked at the top with a visa-free score (vfs) of 162 each. The second-ranking is occupied by Germany and Japan, while the United States ranks fifth alongside Canada, Switzerland and Ireland. Countries which saw an increase in rakings were Georgia (vfs +38) and Ukraine (vfs +34). Pakistan ranked 95 ahead of Iraq and Afghanistan. According to its website, the Passport Index is the world?s most popular online interactive tool, which collects, displays and ranks the passports of the world.
  17. Photo: AFP Pakistan is in the list of countries with highest mortality rates as at least one among every 22 babies faced chances of death, revealed a report released Tuesday by United Nations Children?s Fund. According to the report, most of these poor countries are in Africa, where babies still face ?alarming? risks of death that can be 50 times as high as those in the richest countries, according to a UNICEF report released Tuesday. For instance, a newborn in Japan had only a one in 1,111 risk of dying, the report said. While the last quarter-century has seen broad improvements in older children's health, ?we have not made similar progress in ending deaths among children less than one month old,? said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF's executive director. ?Given that the majority of these deaths are preventable, clearly we are failing the world?s poorest babies.? Of the 10 highest-risk countries, eight are in sub-Saharan Africa, countries where ?pregnant women are much less likely to receive assistance,? due to poverty, conflict or weak institutions, according to the report. Those eight countries are the Central African Republic (a one in 24 chance of death); Somalia, Lesotho, Guinea-Bissau and South Sudan (all with a one in 26 chance); Cote d'Ivoire (one in 27) and Mali and Chad (both with a one in 28 chance). Each year, some 2.6 million babies do not survive through their first month. Preventable deaths The report was released in conjunction with the launch of a global campaign, called Every Child Alive, aimed at ensuring ?affordable, quality health care solutions for every mother and newborn?. More than 80% of newborn deaths can be prevented, the report says, ?with access to well-trained midwives, along with proven solutions like clean water, disinfectants, breastfeeding within the first hour, skin-to-skin contact and good nutrition?. But shortages of properly trained health workers and midwives are a major problem in poorer nations. While a rich country like Norway has 18 doctors, nurses and midwives for every 10,000 people, impoverished Somalia has only one. Every year, one million babies die the day they are born. ?We know we can save the vast majority of these babies with affordable, quality health care solutions,? Fore said. Rwandan success story In general, babies born in richer countries fare far better, but there are differences within countries. Babies born to the poorest families are 40% more likely to die than those born to the least poor. Sadly typical was the story of Mary James, an 18-year-old from rural Malawi. When her labour started, she and her sister made the long trek to a health centre on foot. When her baby was delivered, he was small and terribly weak. She says an overstretched staff did its best, but by night the child was gone. ?I felt like my heart was breaking,? James told UNICEF staff. ?I had a name for the child but he never opened his eyes.? Since improvements to health care can be expensive, ?it is crucial to invest the money in a smart way?, UNICEF?s global maternity and newborn programme chief Willibald Zeck told AFP. That can mean something as simple as ensuring that a pregnant woman who has walked three days to a health care facility is received with ?dignity?, so she remains long enough to receive proper postnatal care. But the dearth of expensive equipment matters. Zeck, who worked as an obstetrician/gynecologist in Tanzania, said women were often unsure how pregnant they were, and he would have to use his hands to estimate whether a fetus was premature or seriously underweight. Still, among countries that have made dramatic improvements is low-income Rwanda, which more than halved its rate from 1990 to 2016, illustrating that ?political will to invest in strong health systems... is critical,? the report said. Education matters, too. Babies born to mothers with no education face nearly twice the risk of early death as babies whose mothers have at least a secondary education. The United States ? generally affluent, but with considerable income inequality and wide variations in access to health care ? was only the 41st safest country for newborns. The countries with the lowest newborn mortality rates, after Japan, are mostly well-off countries with strong education and health care systems: Iceland (a one in 1,000 chance of death), Singapore (one in 909), Finland (one in 833), Estonia and Slovenia (both one in 769), Cyprus (one in 714) and Belarus, Luxembourg, Norway and South Korea (all with risks of one in 667).
  18. Activists protest against the Supreme Court's decision to revive parts of a travel ban on people from six Muslim-majority countries in New York, US. REUTERS/Amr Alfiky/Files WASHINGTON: The United States announced Monday it was lifting its ban on refugees from 11 "high-risk" countries, but said those seeking to enter the US would come under much tougher scrutiny than in the past. Applicants from 11 countries, unnamed but understood to include 10 Muslim-majority nations plus North Korea, will face tougher "risk-based" assessments to be accepted. "It's critically important that we know who is entering the United States," said Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. "These additional security measures will make it harder for bad actors to exploit our refugee program, and they will ensure we take a more risk-based approach to protecting the homeland." The 11 countries, hit with a ban in October in the Trump administration's revised refugee policy, have not been identified officially. But refugee groups say they comprise Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Not a 'Muslim ban' Speaking anonymously, a senior administration official told journalists that the policy of enhanced security assessments for the 11 countries was not designed to target Muslims. "Our admissions have nothing to do with religion," the official said, adding that there is "nothing especially novel" about tougher screening for countries deemed to have a higher level of risk. Donald Trump has pursued a much tougher stance on immigrants and refugees from all countries since becoming president one year ago. His predecessor Barack Obama set refugee admission in fiscal 2017, which began in October 2016, at 110,000. When Trump took office a year ago, he slashed that to 53,000, a number that was cut again to a maximum of 45,000 in fiscal 2018. But refugee arrivals this year could come in significantly lower than that, due to the backlog from the 120-day halt and a slowdown in processing because of generally tougher applicant reviews. DHS would not explain what the tougher vetting measures for the 11 countries would include. But all applicants are being asked to supply more detailed histories and evidence of their past activities, and many are having to allow access to personal electronics and social media accounts. The move comes as Trump presses for a sharp turn in overall US immigration policy that critics say will result in a 50 percent cut in arrivals each year and bias admissions away from African, Asian and Muslim countries. Last week, Trump proposed to end the 27-year-old "green card lottery" program that aims to diversify the source of immigrants, leading to an upturn in those from Middle Eastern and African countries. He also proposed to tightly limit the family members who can join immigrants to only spouses and younger children. Until now, such "chain migration" could extend to immigrants' parents, grandparents, siblings and extended family. The White House said the policy was necessary to protect national security from terror and crime threats. In return, Trump proposed a plan that offers 1.8 million young unauthorized immigrants known as "Dreamers" a path to citizenship over 10-12 years. Democrats and Republicans are starting negotiations on those proposals, along with Trump's request for a $25 billion "trust fund" to build a wall on the southern US border to deter illegal border-crossers from Mexico.
  19. ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency has confirmed that Pakistan has allowed group tourists visa on arrival for 24 countries including the US and UK. According to an FIA notification, tourists will be given multiple entry 30-day visas. The visit to Pakistan will need to be organized through a designated tour operator. The tour operator will be required to furnish tourist documents to the FIA Immigration Office with a requisite undertaking. geo_embedgallery Business visa on arrival will also be issued to citizens from 68 countries. The 30-day single entry visa will require one of the following documents. Letter of invitation from a business organisation in Pakistan with a recommendation letter from a Chamber of Commerce in Pakistan or Trade Association. Letter of recommendation from an investment counsellor or Commercial Attaché in Pakistan?s Mission Abroad. Earlier this week, Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) approached authorities concerned to review visa policy for foreign tourists. "We will focus on overseas Pakistanis and foreign tourists during year 2018. He said that visa policy for foreign tourists is required to be reviewed to facilitate more tourists from across the world," said Chaudhry Abdul Ghafoor, managing director of the PTDC. "We have also requested civil aviation to provide places at all international airports in the country to set-up Tourism Information Desks," he said. Ghafoor said in a written statement that Pakistan was ranked on top by British Backpacker Society among twenty top travel destinations for 2018. He said that this was huge honor for Pakistan. He said that the PTDC is also appointing focal persons in big cities of the country and coordinators for tourism in all tourism-generating countries to increase tourist influx to Pakistan, who will work as a bridge between tourism departments and tourists.
  20. Accounts will allow businesses to set up automatic greetings, see statistics about their messaging and set up a profile page with hours of operation and other information SAN FRANCISCO: Messaging application WhatsApp said on Thursday that it would begin allowing business accounts for the first time, a step that brings the free service closer to a plan that would make money for its corporate parent, Facebook Inc. Some businesses already use WhatsApp, with 1.3 billion users, to answer inquires from customers. Business accounts will allow them to set up automatic greetings, see statistics about their messaging and set up a profile page with hours of operation and other information, WhatsApp said. The accounts are aimed at businesses that receive a high volume of WhatsApp messages and need help keeping up, WhatsApp Chief Operating Officer Matt Idema said. ?What we saw was a need for businesses to have more efficient tools,? Idema said in an interview. The WhatsApp blog said the app will be available for Android only. Idema, who was a Facebook executive before he joined WhatsApp last year, said WhatsApp intends to charge businesses in some form in the future, but he said it was too soon to discuss when that would happen or what the future business services would look like. Facebook bought WhatsApp, a pun on the phrase ?What?s up??, in 2014 for $19 billion, attracted by the size of its user base. WhatsApp used to charge a $1 annual subscription fee but dropped it in 2016, leaving the service without a source of revenue. Options for future revenue are narrow because WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg have ruled out advertising on WhatsApp, a factor that adds to the service?s popularity. WhatsApp competes in a crowded market that also includes Facebook?s Messenger application, Tencent Holdings Ltd?s (0700.HK) WeChat and numerous other messaging services. WhatsApp said its business accounts would be available beginning on Thursday through a WhatsApp Business application in the Google Play store in Britain, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico and the United States. The company said it plans to roll out the accounts to other countries in the coming weeks, and eventually to have a version for Apple iPhones.
  21. COAS Gen Bajwa in Sri Lanka - Photo ISPR Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa reached Sri Lanka on Tuesday for a two official visit on the invitation of his counterpart. During the visit, General Bajwa remarked that Pakistan and Sri Lanka were probably the only countries which understand what it takes to defeat the menace of terrorism. COAS held meetings with the Sri Lankan military leadership including the Chief of Defence Staff, the Chiefs of all three services. Upon arrival, General Bajwa was given guards of honour at the headquarters of all three services. The COAS also visited the Command and Staff College Sri Lanka and interacted with faculty and staff. The leadership of Sri Lankan expressed their gratitude and appreciation for Pakistan's unequivocal moral and material support during Sri Lanka's successful war on terror. They also appreciated successes of Pakistan Army in ongoing War on Terror. COAS highlighted that having cleared troubled areas from terrorists of all hues and colours, Pakistan is now going after their disorganised residual presence under Operation Radd-ul-Fasad. During the meetings, various new initiatives and ongoing projects were discussed to improve the existing defence ties between the two brotherly countries.
  22. Pakistan has been ranked the fourth worst country in terms of women?s peace, security, inclusion and justice, according to recently released rankings of the Women, Peace and Security Index. The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, in its index, has placed Pakistan at 150th among 153 countries ranked for women's inclusion, justice and security, with the highest discrimination against women in the world and the lowest financial inclusion. Women's average years of schooling in the country stands at only five years, while only 33 percent of Pakistani women have been found to use mobile phones. Only 24 percent of women in Pakistan are employed, while their share of seats in parliament stands at only 20 percent. 1.09 males are born for every female born in Pakistan, which is higher than the 1.05 natural demographic rate, meaning that Pakistanis have a son bias, claims the study, conducted in partnership with the Peace Research Institute of Oslo. It also identifies around 500,000 "missing girls" in Pakistan between 2010-15, which indicates that half a million more female children should have been born in the country during the period were it not for the son-bias. The report also states that 73 percent of Pakistani men do not find it perfectly acceptable for women in their family to work outside their homes. About 27 percent women in the country suffer lifetime intimate partner violence or domestic violence and their perception of community safety stands at 51 percent. According to the index, only Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen are worse for women. Iceland has been ranked as the best country for women with an average index rating of 0.886, followed by Norway and Switzerland with 0.879 and 0.871 rating, respectively. India stands at 131st on the index, while United States is at 22nd and United Kingdom at 12th.
  23. Pope Francis on Thursday took wealthy nations to task over unequal healthcare and systems which increasingly penalise all but the very wealthy. Photo: AFP file VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis on Thursday took wealthy nations to task over unequal healthcare and systems which increasingly penalise all but the very wealthy. Healthcare is a particularly hot-button issue in the United States, where President Donald Trump has been fighting to scrap the Affordable Care Act brought in by his predecessor Barack Obama. ?Increasingly sophisticated and costly treatments are available to ever more limited and privileged segments of the population,? the 80-year old pontiff said in an address read out to a World Medical Association conference. The ?growing divide ...raises questions about the sustainability of healthcare delivery,? he said, denouncing ?a systemic tendency toward growing inequality in healthcare?. Pointing the finger at ?the richest countries, where access to care risks depending on financial means rather than needs?, he said: ?The state cannot renounce its duty to protect all those involved?. Francis?s dressing down came just days before the Catholic Church celebrates its first-ever World Day for the Poor on Sunday. As part of the lead-up, the Argentine made a surprise visit to a medical centre for the poor and homeless in St Peter?s square Thursday, warmly clasping the hands of patients and volunteer staff alike at the Vatican?s ?field hospital?.
  24. BRUSSELS: EU states have pledged to take 34,000 refugees directly from Africa and the Middle East, officials said Wednesday, a day after the UN slammed the bloc's "inhuman" cooperation with Libya to stop migrant boats. Sixteen countries have so far offered places to meet the European Commission's goal announced in September of taking at least 50,000 refugees over the next two years under the bloc's resettlement programme. The scheme is aimed at discouraging migrant boats from making the risky Mediterranean crossing, which is still causing deaths more than two years after the migration crisis first hit the continent in 2015. "We are exiting crisis mode gradually and we are now managing migration in a spirit of partnership and shared responsibility, inside and outside the EU," EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said. "With over 34,400 new resettlement pledges received so far, I welcome the strong commitment shown by member states to reduce irregular and dangerous routes and enhance safe and legal pathways, showing solidarity with host countries outside the EU." Brussels meanwhile said its controversial migrant quotas - under which member states were required to share the burden of frontline EU states - was wrapping up with just 750 people left in Greece and 3,100 in Italy left to relocate. The scheme relocated 31,000 out of an originally planned total of 160,000. The EU has launched a string of schemes to tackle the biggest influx of refugees and migrants since World War II, caused initially by people fleeing the conflict in Syria, but now mainly down to economic migrants from Africa. Its policy of helping the Libyan coast guard intercept migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean was condemned on Tuesday by the United Nations, which said they were being sent back to "horrific" prisons in Libya. "The suffering of migrants detained in Libya is an outrage to the conscience of humanity," the UN human rights chief Zeid Ra´ad Al Hussein said in a statement, adding that the policy was "inhuman."
  25. David Malpass speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City, US, November 19, 2007. Image Courtesy: Time via AP/Mark Lennihan/Files WASHINGTON: World Bank lending to countries like China that are rich enough to finance their own development hurts poor countries that need help, a senior US Treasury official said Wednesday. David Malpass ? the Treasury's undersecretary for International Affairs ? cited China as a prime example of the practice, as the World Bank's biggest borrower with $2.4 billion in loans this year. The Trump administration will push the World Bank to move countries towards graduation, as their economies grow and they are able to access private sources of financing, he told a House subcommittee. "Many graduation-eligible countries, even those with strong market access, have continued to demand (World Bank) financing," he said in prepared testimony. "Adherence to the graduation policy has progressively weakened." Malpass said that since 2009, countries eligible for graduation from World Bank aid have received, on average, 40 percent of the institution's lending. Currently, 25 countries have incomes above the graduation threshold, and six are considered high income, exceeding $12,475 per capita. In addition, the World Bank has failed to follow its own guidance and pursue discussions with countries ready to graduate, to phase them out of the lending program. "Treasury has not found these graduation discussions to be serious or meaningful," he said. "We have strenuously argued for a more rigorous, transparent, and rules-based process." He acknowledged that lending to richer countries helps the quality of the institution's portfolio, but said, "We think the World Bank can do a better job meeting its commitments to poorer countries while still pursuing a financially-sound business model." "An overriding objective for the administration is to ensure the World Bank is directing its resources to the people who need them most in the countries with the least access to private capital." Malpass, who was a senior economic advisor to President Donald Trump during his election campaign, also raised concerns about China slowing the pace of its economic reforms. While Beijing has made some progress in promoting consumption and addressing financial sector risk, he said, the US is "concerned that the liberalization seems to have slowed or reversed." "China's unfair trading practices are unsustainable and harmful to the growth and prosperity of the US and many other nations," he said. "The administration is committed to achieving a fair and reciprocal trading and investment relationship with China, including through market-based reforms."
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