International Middle East

Oman, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia suspend travel with African countries over Omicron variant

Al Masnaah [Oman]: Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait have announced suspending air travel from several African countries amid the spread of the new Omicron coronavirus variant.The Saudi Ministry of Interior said on Sunday that the kingdom is stopping travels with Angola, Zambia, Mauritius, Madagascar, Malawi, the Seychelles and Comoros islands, as well as prohibiting their citizens from entering the Arab country. At the same time, Riyadh will allow entry to those who are coming from a third country, provided they spend 14 days in quarantine there as well as another five days in Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, Oman has decided to bar entry from Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique starting Sunday. According to the state-run Oman News Agency, the ban does not affect the sultanate’s citizens, diplomats and health workers.Kuwait is also postponing passenger flights with the same countries as Oman…

Africa International

Omicron COVID variant threat: South Korea to restrict visa issuance, arrivals from 8 African countries

Seoul [South Korea]: South Korea’s government restricted on Sunday the issuance of visas and travel from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe amid the spread of the new Omicron coronavirus variant, Yonhap news agency reported. Travellers from these countries will have to undergo a 10-day compulsory quarantine at a special facility and will have to conduct three PCR tests. Multiple countries worldwide have suspended travel from southern Africa amid the spread of the new coronavirus variant. The variant was identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday as one of concern, as it is reported to carry a high number of mutations — 32 — which possibly makes it more transmissible and dangerous. The WHO has dubbed it Omicron, the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet.

International World Updates

Australia confirms two cases of ‘Omicron’ coronavirus variant

Sydney, [Australia] : Australian health officials on Sunday confirmed two cases of the new ‘Omicron’ coronavirus strain in the country for the first time.According to Kyodo News, the state of New South Wales reported two cases of the new ‘Omicron’ variant. The state government said it had confirmed that two travellers who arrived in Sydney on Saturday from Southern Africa were infected with the variant, Kyodo News reported.The travellers were both vaccinated and had no symptoms, the state government said.Earlier on Saturday, the United Kingdom had also reported the first two cases of the Omicron variant.The new Omicron variant, which has been detected first in South Africa, has escalated tensions across the world as it is considered more dangerous than the delta variant.It has been declared as a ‘variant of concern’ by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday.WHO identified the new South African…

Europe International

France extends travel curbs from seven southern African countries

Paris [France] : France has extended travel restrictions from seven southern African countries until December 1, amid the spread of the new coronavirus variant called Omicron.The reports about the new variant prompted the EU countries to restrict travel from Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique, the Russian news agency reported Sputnik. In France, the restrictions were supposed to last until November 29. “The date ‘November 29, 2021’ is changed to ‘December 1, 2021’,” the government said in a decree, which updates the previous one.On Friday, France suspended flights arriving from the southern African region for 48 hours amid rising concern about a new COVID-19 variant detected in South Africa.“France suspended flights arriving from the southern African region for 48 hours. The new variant has not yet been detected in France,” said Health Minister Olivier Veran, as quoted by France 24.A newly…

International US News

Biden expresses hope Japan would increase defence spending amid China’s rise

Washington [US] : US President Joe Biden expressed his hope that Japan would increase its defence budget during a phone call with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in October, Japanese media reported on Saturday.Biden’s remarks came as Kishida is showing eagerness to ramp up Japan’s defence outlays amid China’s rise, Kyodo News reported citing a diplomatic source. So far, Japan has kept its defence budget around 1 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product in view of the passive Constitution.On Saturday, the Japanese Prime Minister vowed to strengthen the country’s defence capabilities.Kishida’s remarks came during a speech at a Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) base, where he expressed concern about North Korea’s rapid development of missile technology and China’s military expansion, Kyodo News reported.When Japan revises its foreign and security policies, Kishida said all options will be on the table including the idea of giving…

Africa International

Sudanese army repels attack by Ethiopian troops with casualties on both sides

Khartoum [Sudan]: The Sudanese Armed Forces say an attack by Ethiopian soldiers and armed groups was repelled on Saturday in the border area between the two countries.According to a statement from the Sudanese military, obtained by Sputnik, the attempted incursion by Ethiopian forces and allied militia led to casualties on both sides. The Sudan Tribune reported on Saturday that the Sudanese army had repelled an attempt by the Ethiopian troops and the Amhara militia to push deep into Sudan, as part of an operation against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).Earlier this month, the Ethiopian parliament declared a six-month state of emergency throughout the country to protect the population from the TPLF rebels who are advancing toward the country’s capital Addis Ababa despite a ceasefire agreement signed this spring.A number of Western publications have reported that nine Ethiopian opposition factions formed a new alliance…

Europe International

Police protest against security law reform in Madrid

Madrid [Spain]: Thousands of police officers protested in Madrid on Saturday over the controversial security law reform, which is popularly called the “gag law.”The action is attended by representatives of various law enforcement agencies of the country – the National and local police, the Civil Guard, the Basque Ertzaintza. It was supported by the right-wing People’s Party, Citizens Party, and VOX. Before the start of the manifestation, its organizers, the police union Jusapol, promised that it would be “the most massive police protest in the history of Spain.” According to them, 120,000 people were to take part in it. “We say no to this reform. We believe the law must be adapted to current times and must be reformed, but we must never trample the rights of those responsible for security who work with this law every day,” Jusapol President Miguel Gomez told reporters.Speaking…

Africa International

New Variant: South African medical association says Omicron variant causes ‘mild disease’

Johannesburg [South Africa): The new Omicron variant of the coronavirus results in mild disease, without prominent syndromes, Angelique Coetzee, the chairwoman of the South African Medical Association, told Sputnik on Saturday. The World Health Organization (WHO) identified on Friday the new South African strain as one of concern, as it is reported to carry a high number of mutations — 32 — which possibly makes it more transmissible and dangerous. The WHO has dubbed it Omicron, the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet.“It presents mild disease with symptoms being sore muscles and tiredness for a day or two not feeling well. So far, we have detected that those infected do not suffer loss of taste or smell. They might have a slight cough. There are no prominent symptoms. Of those infected some are currently being treated at home,” Coetzee said The official noted that…

International US News

New York declares State of Emergency amid spike in COVID-19 infections

New York [US]: New York Governor Kathy Hochul issued a state of emergency in the state due to a spike in new coronavirus infections and hospitalizations, according to her executive order.“Whereas, New York is now experiencing COVID-19 transmission at rates the State has not seen since April 2020…Whereas, the rate of new COVID-19 hospital admissions has been increasing over the past month to over 300 new admissions a day…I do hereby declare a State disaster emergency for the entire State of New York through January 15, 2022,” the executive order said on Friday evening. The state of emergency will increase hospital capacity in New York and support vaccination efforts to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus disease.Hochul issued the state of emergency amid concerns over the new Omicron coronavirus variant detected in southern Africa. The United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and many…

Africa International

South African Minister calls travel bans by countries over variant ‘Omicron’ as unjustified

Cape Town [South Africa]: South African Health Minister Joe Phaahla on Friday termed the countries’ decision of imposing restrictions on travellers from the country amid concerns over the detection of ‘Omicron’ COVID-19 variant as ‘unjustified’ and said there is no proof that the new COVID variant is more dangerous or resistant to vaccines.The reaction came after the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday named the new COVID-19 variant B.1.1.529, which has been detected in South Africa, as ‘Omicron’ and alarmed the siren among countries of the new variant. As reported by Sputnik, Joe Phaahla said that the reaction of countries in Europe and other regions to the emergence of a new coronavirus strain is “unjustified,” as currently there is no proof that it is more dangerous or resistant to vaccines.“We want to assure South Africans and other people elsewhere in the world that we…

International Middle East

Some 1,000 refugees in Belarus ready to return to Iraq

Minsk [Belarus]: Roughly 1,000 Iraqi refugees in Belarus have expressed their readiness to return home, and a group of refugees returned to Iraq by plane from Minsk airport on Wednesday, reported Belarusian media.The Iraqi side received requests from about 1,000 people wishing to return to Iraq, Majid al-Kinani, the Iraqi consul in Russia and Belarus, was quoted as saying. Thousands of refugees, mostly from the Middle East, are attempting to enter Poland, Lithuania and other European Union countries from Belarus in order to eventually obtain asylum in Western Europe. Countries like Poland have tightened border controls and prevented illegal entry, leaving large numbers of immigrants stuck at the border.

Europe International

Indo- France military exercise, ‘Ex SHAKTI 2021’ ends in France

New Delhi [India]: After 12 days of intense joint military training, the 6th edition of Indo- France military exercise, ‘Ex SHAKTI 2021’ concludes in France on Thursday.“The military exercise culminated on November 25 after twelve days of intense joint military training, exhibiting their combat power and dominance over the extremist groups in simulated Counter Insurgency / Counter Terrorism environment,” informed the Indian Ministry of Defence in a statement.“The exercise provided an opportunity to both the contingents to train in Counter-Terrorism operations in the joint environment under United Nations charter,” the statement said.The military exercise was conducted in two phases involving combat conditioning and tactical training of Counter-Terrorism operations. It also included validation of training in a semi-urban environment. The respective contingents expressed great satisfaction on the outcome of the military exercise, in terms of the standards achieved during the conduct, the ministry said. “The…

Europe International

Germany logs record 76,414 new COVID-19 cases in past 24 hrs

Berlin [Germany]: Germany has registered 76,414 new COVID-19 cases within the past 24 hours, marking thus the largest daily increase since the start of the outbreak, Robert Koch Institute said on Friday.The total number of COVID-19 cases in Germany currently stands at 5,650,170. The death toll has risen by 357 to 100,476 people within the same period of time. A day earlier, the country recorded 75,961 new COVID-19 cases and 351 fatalities.Like many other countries, Germany is currently facing the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, which bring record numbers of new cases.The World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic on March 11, 2020. To date, more than 259.94 million people have been infected with the coronavirus worldwide, with over 5.18 million fatalities, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Asia International

Indonesian police arrest 24 people related to terror financing

Jakarta [Indonesia]: The Indonesian National Police announced Thursday that its counter-terrorism squad dubbed “Densus 88” had arrested a total of 24 people related to fundraising for the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) terrorist group.“Of the 24 people, 14 are from Baitul Maal Abdurrahman bin Auf (an alms collecting foundation) and 10 are from Syam Organizer (a fund raising foundation),” head of Densus 88’s operation assistance unit, Senior Commissioner Aswin Siregar, said. Based on the financial reports of the foundations, Baitul Maal Abdurrahman bin Auf with tens of thousands of charity boxes spread across Indonesia collects around 15 billion rupiahs (about 1.05 million U.S. dollars) per year, while the Syam Organizer earns around 14 billion rupiahs (about 0.98 million U.S. dollars).When searching for the Syam Organizer office some time ago, officers confiscated around 944 million rupiahs (about 70,000 U.S. dollars) in cash.JI was a Southeast Asian militant…

International UK News

UK to increase global military presence under ‘Future Soldier’ plan

London [UK]: The United Kingdom is determined to step up its military presence in the world, according to a plan, released by the UK defence ministry on Thursday.“More of the Army will be deployed across the globe, more of the time. Greater forward deployment will improve our ability to anticipate crises and be ready to compete beneath the threshold of open conflict. It will prevent conflict by reassuring allies and partners and deterring adversaries,” the “Future Soldier” modernization plan read. The UK defence ministry also announced an additional investment in military equipment, worth 8.6 billion pounds (USD 11.46 billion), during the next decade. This will raise the total investment to 41.3 billion pounds for the same period.UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Future Soldier is reinforced by the ambition outlined in the Defence Command Paper to transform the Army into a more agile, integrated,…

Africa International

At least 43 people killed, 46 villages burned, looted in Sudan’s Darfur region

Khartoum [Sudan], November 25 (ANI/Xinhua): At least 43 people were killed and 46 villages were burned and looted in Sudan’s West Darfur State, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Sudan (OCHA) said on Thursday. “On Nov. 17, conflict broke out between Arab nomads and farmers from the Misseriya Jebel tribe in West Darfur’s Jebel Moon locality,” the OCHA said in a statement.“Initial reports indicate that at least 43 people have been killed, 46 villages have been burned and looted, and an unknown number of people were injured due to the ongoing fighting,” it added. (ANI/Xinhua)

International Middle East

Palestine welcomes Belgium’s decision to label Israeli settlements’ products

Ramallah [Palestine]: Palestine on Wednesday welcomed Belgium’s decision to label products of Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories, saying it’s a move “in the right direction.”Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Ishtaye said in a press statement that Belgium’s decision was based on the fact that the Israeli settlements are “contrary to international laws and resolutions,” and expressed its “alignment with the values of truth, justice, and freedom.” He called on countries worldwide “to follow the footsteps of Belgium by labelling the Israeli settlements’ products, condemn settlement expansion and act on putting pressure to halt the growing settlers’ assaults on the Palestinians.”On Wednesday, the Belgian government decided to put clear labels on the products of Israeli settlements to show that these settlements are built on Palestinian lands.According to Israeli media reports, the Israeli Foreign Ministry condemned the Belgian government’s decision, saying in a statement that “it…

International UK News

Study finds COVID infection risk rises after second vaccine dose

London [UK] : A new study has found a gradual increase in the risk of COVID-19 infection from 90 days after receiving a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.Results confirm that protection wanes with time and suggest a third (booster) dose might be warranted. The findings of the study were published in the journal ‘BMJ’.The study was carried out by the Research Institute of Leumit Health Services in Israel. Israel was one of the first countries to roll out a large scale covid-19 vaccination campaign in December 2020, but it has seen a resurgence of infections since June 2021.The findings confirm that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine provided excellent protection in the initial weeks after vaccination, but suggest that protection wanes for some individuals with time.Across the world, large scale covid-19 vaccination campaigns are helping to control the spread of the virus, but even in countries…

Europe International

Olaf Scholz set to replace Merkel

Berlin [Germany] : Olaf Scholz is set to end the era of the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel.The newly formed coalition of three German political parties, the Social Democrats, the Greens, and the Free Democrats, led by Olaf Scholz is about to form the next German government, reported DW news. The left-leaning Olaf Scholz, about to hold the designation of Germany’s next chancellor, has ruled out the 16-year long term of Merkel-led German government, reported DW News.On Wednesday, the said three German parties showcased their plans titled ‘Risk more progress’ with the agenda to take over Merkel-led government. The coalition about to form the German government tagged their cooperation deal as an ‘alliance for freedom, justice, and sustainability.The cooperation deal appears to be majorly between the two parties, the Greens and neoliberal Free Democrats (FDP). The environmentalists aim to end coal commerce by the…

International US News

US special envoy for Afghanistan to meet Taliban in Doha

Washington [US] : The US Special Representative for Afghanistan, Tom West will be meeting with the Taliban leaders in Doha next week.“They’ll discuss … our vital national interests when it comes to Afghanistan,” said State Department spokesperson Ned Price, reported Tolo News. “That includes counterterrorism, that includes a safe passage for US citizens and for Afghans to whom we have a special commitment and that includes humanitarian assistance and the economic situation of the country,” he added.On November 8, West started his first trip in this role to Europe and Asia as the US special envoy for Afghanistan. He visited Brussels and consulted with EU and US allies on Afghanistan.The US envoy, Tom West, earlier this month attended a meeting of the extended Troika, comprising Pakistan, China, Russia and the United States to discuss Afghanistan. The group had also met with senior Taliban representatives,…

International UK News

Sikhs for Justice farce ‘Referendum’ on Khalistan exposed

London [UK] : Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), fake “Referendum” on the creation of Khalistan – for a separate Sikh nation was exposed in a raid by UK police that said that very few people participated.According to certain reliable inputs emerging from the Indian community in the UK, especially the Sikh community-based in London, the UK Metropolitan police carried out a raid on the office of Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) located on the First floor of Sadda Superstore, 356 Bath Road, Hounslow, UK on November 15, reported dailysikh. The police took away all electronic devices and documents pertaining to the so-called ‘Referendum’ held by the SFJ recently. While the ‘Referendum’ turned out to be a farce with very few people participating, there was speculation that SFJ members were using various electronic devices to create fake Identity cards and relevant documents pertaining to bogus voters in…

Europe International

Johnson, Macron agree to step up efforts to prevent migrants’ crossings

London [UK]: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron have agreed to prevent deadly crossings of the English Channel by migrants following the Wednesday fatal shipwreck in the Strait of Dover, the Office of the UK Prime Minister said.A boat with migrants sank in the Strait of Dover near the French shore on Wednesday, leaving at least 31 people dead. “The Prime Minister (Boris Johnson) spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron this evening following the distressing loss of life in the Channel. They agreed on the urgency of stepping up joint efforts to prevent these deadly crossings and to do everything possible to stop the gangs responsible for putting people’s lives at risk,” 10 Downing Street said in a statement on Wednesday.The leaders stressed the need to cooperate with Belgium and the Netherlands as well as other EU countries to effectively…

International World Updates

Dubai Expo-2020 to host World Chess Championship for first time in history

 Delhi [India]: For the first time in Expo history, the Expo 2020 will host the World Chess Championship in which two world-class players go head-to-head, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to India Dr Ahmed Albanna said on Wednesday.Interacting with Indian media at UAE Embassy here on the occasion of the UAE’s Golden Jubilee Celebrations that started on November 24 and will continue until December 16, Albanna said: “Magnus Carlsen from Norway and Ian Nepomniachtchi from Russia will start their games this week for a 2.25 million US dollars prize”. Expo 2020, which opened on October 1, this year in Dubai, will conclude on March 31, 2022. The event coincides with the UAE’s 50th anniversary in 2021.The ambassador said that UAE has selected “Connecting minds, creating the future” as a theme of Expo 2020 with three subthemes– opportunity, mobility and sustainability.“While the theme “opportunity”…

Europe International

Sweden gets its first female prime minister

Stockholm [Sweden] : Swedish parliament elected on Wednesday Magdalena Andersson as the country’s new Prime Minister, the first female PM in Swedish history.Andersson is scheduled to take office after a meeting with King Carl XVI Gustaf on Friday, giving her less than 10 months to prepare for Sweden’s 2022 general elections.

International US News

SpaceX to conduct ‘humanity’s first planetary defence test’ to redirect asteroid

California [US] : SpaceX is planning to conduct humanity’s first planetary defence test to redirect an asteroid through Falcon 9’s launch of NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission on Tuesday (local time).“DART is humanity’s first planetary defence test mission to see if intentionally crashing a spacecraft into an asteroid is an effective way to change its course, should an Earth-threatening asteroid be discovered in the future,” read a statement by SpaceX. This will be the third flight for this Falcon 9’s first stage booster, which previously supported the launch of Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich and a Starlink mission. Following stage separation, Falcon 9’s first stage will land on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship, which will be located in the Pacific Ocean, it said.The instantaneous launch window is at 10:21 pm PST (6:21 UTC on November 24), and a backup opportunity is…

Africa International

Top UN envoy for Libya resigns

New York [US]: The top UN envoy for Libya, Jan Kubis, has resigned, one month before crucial elections in the war-torn country, a UN spokesman confirmed Tuesday.“I can tell you that Mr Kubis has tendered his resignation and the secretary-general has accepted it with regret,” said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “The secretary-general is working on an appropriate replacement. We are all fully aware of the electoral calendar and are working as quickly as possible to ensure continuity of leadership,” Dujarric told a daily press briefing.Kubis is not leaving his post immediately and is expected to brief the Security Council on the situation in Libya on Wednesday, said the spokesman, who refused to say how long Kubis will stay.

International Middle East

Apple files lawsuit against Israeli NSO Group over Pegasus surveillance

Washington [US]: Apple has filed a lawsuit against Israeli NSO Group holding it accountable for the surveillance and targeting of the company’s customers, the company said in a statement on Tuesday.“Apple today filed a lawsuit against NSO Group and its parent company to hold it accountable for the surveillance and targeting of Apple users,” the company said. “The complaint provides new information on how NSO Group infected victims’ devices with its Pegasus spyware.” To prevent further abuse and harm to its users, Apple is also seeking a permanent injunction to ban NSO Group from using any Apple software, services, or devices, according to the release.“State-sponsored actors like the NSO Group spend millions of dollars on sophisticated surveillance technologies without effective accountability. That needs to change,” Apple Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi said in the release.“Apple devices are the most secure consumer…

International US News

Peng Shuai’s reappearance undermines its expressed commitment to Human Rights

New York [US] : The International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) collaboration with Chinese authorities on tennis star Peng Shuai’s reappearance undermines its expressed commitment to human rights, including the rights and safety of athletes, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Tuesday.This comes after IOC last week said in a statement that its president, Thomas Bach, had a 30-minute video call with three-time Olympian Peng Shuai, joined by a Chinese sports official and an IOC official. The statement said that, during the call, Peng appeared to be “doing fine” and “relaxed,” and said she “would like to have her privacy respected.” The IOC did not explain how the video call with Peng had been organized, given the difficulties other concerned parties have had reaching her.Yaqiu Wang, a senior China researcher at HRW, said that the IOC has vaulted itself from silence about Beijing’s abysmal human rights…

Europe International

Explosion at missile factory near Belgrade injures 15 people

Belgrade [Serbia] : An explosion at a factory for the production of missiles used to combat hail clouds near Belgrade, according to unconfirmed information, injured 15 people, two were killed, the Vecernje Novosti newspaper reported.A strong explosion occurred at about 14:00 (13:00 GMT) in the Buban Potok area. Presumably, the explosion occurred at the Edepro anti-hail missile factory in the village of Lestane. Videos of a cloud of smoke appeared on social networks. The interior ministry told the media that 11 vehicles and 36 firefighters had been sent to the scene. According to other media reports, cars are on fire in the parking lot in front of the factory.

Europe International

Covid-19 Restrictions : Protests rock Netherlands, Belgium, France

Amsterdam [Netherlands]: People continued to protest against COVID-19 curbs in parts of the Netherlands, France and Belgium. People continued to show up in numbers across European cities on Sunday, with the police deploying water cannons and tear gases to disperse crowds. More people have been arrested, reported DW News.Riots broke out in cities across the Netherlands, the third night in a row that police clashed with mobs of angry youths who set fires and threw rocks to protest COVID-19 restrictions. Protests continued in the Netherlands for the third day in a row with police issuing an emergency order in the eastern city of Enschede, near the German border, reported DW News. Protesters set off fireworks and vandalized properties in cities — Groningen and Leeuwarden in the north, Enschede in the east, and Tilburg in the south. 130 people have been arrested since the protests…

International US News

Is US Covid Rebound bad?

Washington [US] : The latest US Covid-19 wave is taking its toll on some states’ intensive-care units, with several parts of the country seeing outbreaks that are as bad as ever. In 15 states, patients with confirmed or suspected Covid are taking up more ICU beds than a year earlier, according to Department of Health and Human Services data. Colorado, Minnesota and Michigan have 41 per cent, 37 per cent and 34 per cent of ICU beds occupied by Covid-19 patients, respectively, the data show. The dramatic uptick means there’s proportionately less space in hospitals for those suffering from other potentially deadly ailments. “Many of our physicians are at a breaking point,” said Ali Mokdad, a professor with the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. “It’s not easy to be day in and day out in an emergency room, in an…

International UK News

UK demands Beijing provides further evidence of tennis player Shuai’s safety

Moscow [Russia] : The United Kingdom is concerned for the safety of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, who temporarily disappeared after accusing a senior Chinese politician of sexual assault, and demands that Beijing allow her to speak out without fear of repercussions, the country’s foreign ministry told RIA Novosti.“We are extremely concerned at the apparent disappearance of Peng Shuai, and are following the case closely. The Chinese authorities should urgently provide verifiable evidence of her safety and whereabouts. Everyone should be allowed to speak out without fear of repercussions. All reports of sexual assault, anywhere in the world, should be investigated,” the ministry said. Peng disappeared from public view after publishing on November 2 a statement on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social media platform, accusing the former Chinese vice-premier, 75-year-old Zhang Gaoli, of sexually assaulting her. The post was immediately deleted, Peng’s accounts were removed…

Europe International

French PM tested positive for COVID-19

Paris [France] : French Prime Minister Jean Castex has tested positive for COVID-19, French media reported on Monday.Returning from Brussels Monday afternoon after meeting with his Belgian counterpart Alexander De Croo, Castex learnt that one of his daughters tested positive for COVID-19, Le Figaro reported. De Croo will be tested on Wednesday and will remain in quarantine until the result of his test, local media reported.Several senior members of the Belgian government will also go into quarantine to avoid any risks.French ministers in the delegation include minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly, Interior minister Gerald Darmanin, minister of Justice Eric Dupond-Moretti, and Secretary of State for European Affairs Clement Beaune.Castex “immediately got a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test, which turned out to be positive,” the French newspaper cited the prime minister’s office as saying.The schedule of the French head of government is to…

Asia International

Malaysia reports 4,885 new COVID-19 infections, 63 more deaths

Kuala Lumpur [Malaysia] : Malaysia reported another 4,885 new COVID-19 infections, as of midnight Monday, bringing the national total to 2,591,486, according to the health ministry.Some 18 of the new cases are imported, with 4,867 being local transmissions, data released on the ministry’s website showed. Another 63 more deaths have been reported, bringing the death toll to 30,063.About 5,628 patients have been released after recovery, bringing the total number of cured and discharged to 2,493,437.There are some 67,986 active cases, 549 are being held in intensive care units and 274 of them are in need of assisted breathing.The country administered a total of 109,016 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday alone, and some 78.7 per cent of the population have received at least one dose and 76.6 per cent have been fully vaccinated.

International US News

Parade incident driver to be charged with homicide

Wisconsin [US] : Police said Darrell Edward Brooks Jr, 39, killed five people, aged between 52 and 81, and injured 48 others, including young children, in Waukesha. Mr Brooks was fleeing a domestic disturbance when he mowed into the crowd, they said. They added he could face further charges based upon their investigation. Waukesha police also said the incident was not an act of terrorism. Several school children and grandparents were among the victims. They include members of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies, who are a regular fixture in the city’s parades. “Our group was doing what they loved, performing in front of crowds in a parade putting smiles on faces of all ages,” the group wrote in a statement on Facebook. “Those who died were extremely passionate Grannies.” Dozens of people remain in hospital. Police said the injured were taken to six area hospitals…

International US News

Biden backs Powell to continue heading Federal Reserve, says Central Bank needs stability

Washington [US]: The Federal Reserve needs stable and independent leadership to navigate a post-pandemic world and Jerome Powell would be the right apolitical candidate to continue heading the US central bank, President Joe Biden said. “Now some will no doubt ask why I’m renominating Jay, when he was the choice of a Republican predecessor? Why I’m not picking a Democrat?” Biden said during a press conference on Monday. “Put directly at this moment of both enormous potential and enormous uncertainty for our economy, we need stability and independence. At the Federal Reserve, Jay has proven the independence that I value in the Fed chair.”The renomination of Powell, a Republican appointed by former president Donald Trump, comes after one of the most tumultuous periods ever for both, the Federal Reserve and the US economy emerging from the coronavirus pandemic and the recession triggered by the…

International Middle East

Saudi-led coalition in Yemen warns of danger to global trade in Red Sea

Riyadh [Saudi Arabia]: The Saudi-led coalition fighting the Iran-backed Houthi movement in Yemen said it detected an imminent danger to the global trade in the Red Sea, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Monday.“There are indicators of the imminent danger to shipping and world trade in the south of the Red Sea. We are taking prompt actions to detect the maritime threat and ensure freedom of navigation,” the coalition said. It also stated that the concerns were raised after the coalition had detected hostile movements by the Yemeni Houthi forces using explosive-laden boats, according to SPA.The statement was delivered after the coalition had intercepted and destroyed remotely piloted aircraft launched by Houthi rebels targeting the Najran airport on Sunday.Yemen’s civil war began in 2014 when Houthi insurgents took control of Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, demanding lower fuel prices and a new government. The rebels seized…

Asia International

China-ASEAN relations expand into comprehensive strategic partnership

Beijing [China]: The special summit commemorating the 30th anniversary of ASEAN-China dialogue relations re-enforces Beijing’s expanding role in the ASEAN region.Though the China-ASEAN summit focuses on higher-end technology research including focus production on the COVID-19 vaccine, the strategic significance of the summit can’t be undermined, reported Global Times. The summit re-enforces China’s engagement with the 10-member ASEAN countries including Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.The summit comes at a time when Beijing has expanded its economic role in the region as the ASEAN’s data shows its trade volume with China was USD 684.6 billion in 2020.China-ASEAN dialogue relations were established in 1991 after the end of the Cold War when Beijing started to expand its economic reach further in the South East Asian region.The above was followed by Beijing’s role as ASEAN’s dialogue partners which had morphed into…

Asia International

Mohamed bin Zayed receives Personal Representative of Sultan of Oman at Expo 2020 Dubai

Dubai [UAE] : Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, received today Sayyid Asa’ad bin Tarik Al Said, Deputy Prime Minister for International Relations and Cooperation Affairs, and Personal Representative of His Majesty the Sultan of Oman, who is visiting the country to lead a delegation attending Oman’s 51st National Day celebrations at the Oman Pavilion at the Expo 2020 Dubai.The meeting, which took place at Expo 2020 Dubai, was attended by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs. The Omani Deputy Prime Minister for International Relations conveyed the greetings of Sultan Haitham bin Tarik of Oman, to President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and his wishes for their continued health and wellness, and for…

International UK News

Britain invites ASEAN to G-7 meeting, signifies ‘growing Indo-Pacific tilt’

London [UK] : Ministers from the Group of Seven (G-7) industrialised nations are set to participate in a meeting that will take place in Britain’s Liverpool next month.The G-7 meet, under the presidency of Britain, will commence from December 10 and will continue for three days, stated the UK government. Britain will be hosting this year’s G-7 meet and has for the first time invited the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), signifying a “growing Indo-Pacific tilt”, reported Kyodo News, citing UK government sources.Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno addressing a press conference in Tokyo on Monday stated that the invitation to ASEAN nations portrays UK’s “willingness to strengthen its involvement in the Indo-Pacific region.”The British Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office mentioned that G-7 will look into global issues, including economic resilience in the post-COVID times, global health and human rights, reported Kyodo…

Asia International

Sri Lanka Begins Trials For 2019 Easter Attack

Colombo [Sri Lanka] : A Sri Lankan court on Monday began the first of three trials connected to bombings that killed nearly 270 people on the island in 2019, amidst appeals for greater accountability from victim support groups. In this trial, former national police chief Pujith Jayasundara is charged with failing to act on repeated intelligence warnings of a possible terror attack. A total of 855 charges of murder and attempted murder were read out as Jayasundara stood in the dock at the back of the courtroom. A total of 1,215 witnesses have been listed to give evidence but not all may be called, his lawyer said. “Our position is the former police chief is not guilty. He did not intentionally aid or abet the attacks and there was no omission on his part that caused the attacks,” attorney Ranjith Dehiwala told Reuters. Ex-Defence…

International World Updates

Australia to allow fully vaccinated eligible visa holders

Canberra [Australia] : Australia on Monday further relaxed its travel rules as it allows fully vaccinated eligible visa holders to enter the country without the need to apply for a travel exemption from December 1.Eligible visa holders include skilled and student cohorts, as well as humanitarian, working holidaymakers and provisional family visa holders. The additional changes have been announced as part of the National plan to safely reopen Australia.Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, in a statement, said: “From 1 December 2021, fully vaccinated eligible visa holders can come to Australia without needing to apply for a travel exemption. Eligible visa holders include skilled and student cohorts, as well as humanitarian, working holidaymaker and provisional family visa holders.”He said that these changes will ensure that “we continue to protect the health of Australians while reuniting families and securing our economic recovery by opening our border…

Africa International

Two out of 17 missionaries kidnapped in Haiti released

Washington [US]: Two of the 17 US and Canadian citizens, members of the religious organization Christian Aid Ministries, abducted in Haiti in October, have been released, the charity says.“We have learned that two of the hostages in Haiti were released. We praise God for this! Only limited information can be provided, but we are able to report that the two hostages who were released are safe, in good spirits, and being cared for,” Christian Aid Ministries said in a Sunday statement. At the end of October, a police source confirmed to the Nouvelliste newspaper that the kidnapped missionaries were alive and that FBI agents were helping with efforts to free the hostages.“We encourage you to continue to pray for the full resolution of this situation. While we rejoice at this release, our hearts are with the fifteen people who are still being held,” Christian…

Europe International

Poland might close borders with Belarus over migrants

Warsaw [Poland]: Poland does not rule out the possibility of closing the borders with Belarus over the migration crisis, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Sunday.Currently, Poland has closed only the Kuznica checkpoint. “We are thinking over the steps associated with increasingly more serious economic sanctions, including closing the Polish-Belarusian border from the Polish side,” Morawiecki said after the meeting with Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas in Tallinn.

Asia International

Japan conveys concerns to China, Russia about joint patrolling in Asia Pacific

Tokyo [Japan] : Japan has conveyed concerns to Russia and China over joint patrolling by their air forces in the Asia Pacific region, said Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi on Sunday.“As previously, we informed Russia and China via diplomatic channels about our concerns about similar actions from the viewpoint of the regional security,” Sputnik quoted the minister as saying. On Friday, the Russian and the Chinese armies conducted the third joint air patrolling in the Asia-Pacific involving strategic bombers, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.The patrolling as part of the military cooperation 2021 plan was not designed to counter other countries, the ministry added.The Chinese Defense Ministry said that China sent two H-6K aircraft to form a joint formation with two Russian Tu-95MC aircraft over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea.During the patrol, the aircraft strictly abided by the provisions of…

International UK News

UK ‘must try to engage’ with ‘Islamic Emirate’ in Afghanistan

London [UK] : Amid the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that Britain must engage with the current Taliban government to tackle the existing crisis in the country.Johnson made the remarks in response to a question UK lawmaker in the parliament, TOLOnews reported. Stating that Afghanistan looks like ‘hell on earth’, Labor Party member Sarah Champion asked Johnson “how and when” will aid that has been pledged by the UK be provided to the people of Afghanistan.Johnson explained that the UK had no other choice but to engage with the current Afghan government to assist the overcoming of crisis in the troubled nation.“There is no point in the UK just standing on the sidelines and failing to engage with the Taliban,” he said.“They may not speak for all Afghans, far from it, but they are some kind of…

International Middle East

US manages to halt construction of secret Chinese port project in UAE

Washington [US]: The Biden administration has managed to halt the construction of a secret development inside of a Chinese shipping port in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), one of the US’s closest Mideast allies, after intense pressure from the US.This project, near Abu Dhabi, was halted after several rounds of meetings and visits by US officials, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported citing people familiar with the matter. After the intelligence agencies in Washington learned that Beijing was secretly building what they suspected was a military facility at a port, the Biden administration warned the Emirati government that a Chinese military presence in its country could threaten ties between the two countries.“Last we checked, we had successfully convinced the Emiratis to shut down the project,” said one source familiar with the intelligence, as quoted by CNN. “But it’s still a live issue.”Although the project…

International World Updates

Vietnam reports 9,531 new COVID-19 cases, 1,084,625 in total

Hanoi [Vitenam]: Vietnam reported 9,531 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, including 9,518 locally transmitted and 13 imported, according to its Ministry of Health.Most of the community cases were detected in southern localities, including 1,046 in Ho Chi Minh City, 669 in Binh Duong province, and 621 in Dong Nai province. The infections brought the total tally to 1,084,625, with 23,685 deaths, said the ministry. Nationwide, as many as 900,337 COVID-19 patients have so far recovered, up 16,773 from Friday.Over 106.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, including more than 40 million second doses, have been administered, according to the ministry.Vietnam has by far gone through four coronavirus waves of increasing scale, complication, and infectivity. As of Saturday, the country has registered nearly 1,080,000 locally transmitted COVID-19 cases since the start of the current wave in late April, the ministry said.

Europe International

20 arrested, 7 injured at COVID-19 protests in Netherlands

Rotterdam [Netherlands]: At least 20 protesters were arrested and seven people, including police officers, were injured during the rally against COVID-19 restrictions in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, NL Times reported on Saturday.The Rotterdam rally began on Friday against new restrictions announced last week. In the evening, the police used water cannons and fired warning shots to disperse the crowd. Local media reported several people injured during the clashes. “There are clear images of many suspects. We will continue investigations,” Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb said, as quoted in the report. The mayor called the protests “an orgy of violence.”Acting Dutch Justice Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus condemned the unrest and called for punishment of protesters who exercised violence.“Watching the unrest and extreme violence towards police officers, special military units and firefighters that happened last night, was terrifying. Men and women who go on the streets daily…

International UK News

UK admits it faces “severe” terror threat after two violent incidents

London [UK] : The United Kingdom has raised its level of threat from Islamist terrorism to “severe” after two violent incidents in Liverpool and Essex in the last one month, a Canada-based think tank reported.International Forum For Rights And Security (IFFRAS) citing counter-terror experts reported that more future threats are expected in the United Kingdom, adding that however, no Islamist group has come forward to accept responsibility for the attacks so far. British security minister Damien Hinds suspected the incident could be the result of online radicalisation – the latest aspect of Islamist terror to threaten Europe. Hinds revealed “the security services had disrupted more than 30 late-stage plots in the last few years”, IFFRAS reported.A suicide bomber blew himself up with an explosive device near a maternity hospital in Liverpool on November 15.According to MI5, a British domestic counter-intelligence agency, the Islamist terrorist…

Asia International

Japan mulls releasing oil reserves

Tokyo [Japan] : The Japanese government is considering to release crude oil reserves to curb the oil prices growth, Japan’s Kyodo news agency said on Saturday, citing sources.Previously, Japan resorted to this measure only in case of natural calamities or disruptions in overseas supplies caused by unstable political situation. Consequently, the step is being considered as a tool of stabilizing the prices for the first time. The country’s oil is kept at national oil reserves and at private oil firms. In late September, Japan possessed oil reserves sufficient for 242 days of consumption, according to the media.The increase in global oil prices has led Japan to record high prices for fuels, and the government decided to pay out oil companies extra five yens ($0,044) per one liter of the fuel produced, if gasoline price exceeds 170 yens per liter, starting December 2021.

International US News

USIBC Chief says two nations need to set ambitious goal

Washington [US] : Terming top US trade official Katherine Tai’s upcoming visit to India as a “very important” one, President of the US-India Business Council (USIBC), Nisha Biswal said it is an agenda-setting visit to see how the two countries can align their ambitions and approach to trade. United States Trade Representative (USTR) Tai will travel to India on a two-day visit from November 22 for talks with her Indian counterpart commerce minister Piyush Goyal.Acknowledging that there is a gulf between US and India when it comes to trade policies, Biswal suggested that the two countries need to set an “ambitious goal” with respect to trade ties and a roadmap to get there.“It is very important to visit. It is ambassador Tai’s first visit to India as USTR. It is important that US and India set an ambitious goal from where we want to…

International US News

Russia hopes US will urge Ukraine to fulfill obligations under Minsk agreements

Washington [US] : Russia hopes that the United States will influence Ukraine so that Kiev will fulfill its obligations under the Minsk agreements on settling the conflict in Donbas, the Russian Embassy to the United States said.On Friday, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said that the United States welcomed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s statement about resolving the conflict in Donbas based on the Minsk agreements and supported such conflict-resolution efforts. “We take note of the words of White House Press Secretary Jennifer Psaki concerning the support of the efforts to settle the conflict in Donbass in accordance with the Minsk Agreements,” the Russian Embassy wrote on its Facebook page.The Russian diplomatic mission said that Ukraine had to stop the ongoing sabotage of the Minsk agreement.“We hope that the U.S. Government will heed sound judgments and influence ‘the strategic partner’ so that the latter fulfills…

International World Updates

USIBC chief urges against imposition of CAATSA on India for buying Russian S-400

Washington [US] : Nisha Biswal, president of the US-India Business Council (USIBC) on Friday (local time) said India’s procurement of S-400 missile systems from Russia presents some challenges between Washington and New Delhi, which need to be worked out by both governments, but not the use of sanctions. “I understand the more awaiting factors of CAATSA and the concern that India’s procurement of the S-400 presence for the American defence establishment because as US India becomes closer defence partners. S-400 plays some challenges, those are the challenges that I think need to be worked through by both governments but not the use of sanctions,” she said.The CAATSA is a United States federal law that imposed sanctions on Iran, North Korea, and Russia. CAATSA authorises the US administration to impose sanctions on countries that purchase major defence hardware from Russia in response to Russia’s annexation…

Asia International

Chinese naval ship sails in Japan waters amid rising security tensions

Beijing [China]: A Chinese naval ship sailed in Japan’s waters earlier this week off its southwestern prefecture of Kagoshima, the country’s Defence Ministry said on Friday.The Chinese survey ship was spotted sailing off the southwestern prefecture on Wednesday and Thursday in the so-called contiguous zone outside Japan’s territorial waters, reported Kyodo News citing the ministry. A Maritime Self-Defense Force patrol plane spotted the ship heading toward Japanese waters from the contiguous zone south of Yakushima Island around 8:40 pm on Wednesday.The ship was then seen sailing west of Kuchinoerabu Island in the zone westward around 1:20 am on Thursday, the ministry further said.The Chinese vessel entered Japanese waters sometime between Wednesday night and early Thursday, the ministry determined based on the pattern of sightings, though it did not specify when the intrusion happened, according to Kyodo News.

International US News

Biden-Xi meeting intended to build consensus on major world problems: White House

Washington [US]: The recent virtual meeting between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping was intended to build consensus between the two countries on major world problems, White House Coordinator on the Indo-Pacific Kurt Campbell said on Friday. “[T]his was really meant as an initial conversation about areas that we think we can potentially work together, like climate change, but also make clear where our purpose and determination are clear, like on the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” Campbell said during a conversation at the US Institute of Peace, reported Sputnik.Campbell added that the United States approach to the Indo-Pacific will remain multifaceted and not focused only on the competition with China and will also include advancement in such areas as technology, quantum computing, 5G networks and others, added Sputnik. The meeting was held amid deteriorating relations between…

Asia International

US extends support to Philippines amid China’s ‘expansive, unlawful’ maritime claims

Washington [US]: Highlighting that the US stands with the Philippines amid the latter’s standoff with China, the Biden administration said that it believes that Beijing actions asserting its “expansive and unlawful” South China Sea maritime claims undermine peace and security in the region.“The United States stands with our ally, the Philippines, in the face of this escalation that directly threatens regional peace and stability, escalates regional tensions, infringes upon freedom of navigation in the South China Sea as guaranteed under international law, and undermines the rules-based international order,” Sputnik quoted State Department spokesperson Ned Price as saying. According to Price, Washington “strongly believes that PRC actions asserting its expansive and unlawful South China Sea maritime claims undermine peace and security in the region.”Three Chinese coastguard ships blocked and first water cannons on two Philippines supply boats within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in…

International US News

US today is much more flexible partner than in past, says Jaishankar

Singapore: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday said that the US today is a much more flexible partner, much more open to ideas, suggestions, working arrangements than in the past. “I have been dealing with the US for close to 40 years now. US today is a much more flexible partner, much more open to ideas, suggestions, working arrangements, than in the past,” Jaishankar said in response to a query during the panel discussion ‘Greater Power Competition: The Emerging World Order’ at the Bloomberg New Economic Forum event in Singapore.Answering another query, he said the manner of China’s growing influence is very different from the US. “There is no question that the US has strategically contracted for some time. Relatively and absolutely, American power and American influence are not what they used to be. It is also clear China has been expanding, but…

International UK News

UK, Poland sign agreement on plans to cooperate on creating Air Defense System

London [UK] : The United Kingdom and Poland have signed an agreement on the intention to create a new air defense system, the UK Ministry of Defense said.The agreement was reached during the visit of UK Defense Minister Ben Wallace to Poland where he held talks with his Polish counterpart, Mariusz Blaszczak “A first for the UK-Poland relationship, the Statement of Intent will see the two countries share pioneering technology to develop NAREW, Poland’s future Ground-Based Air Defence System, which is anticipated to have a multi-billion-pound budget. The agreement will provide enhanced security and defence development for both countries, while developing and sustaining critical skills across the missile sector in Poland and the UK” the ministry said in a statement on late Thursday.“In the UK, MBDA’s Common Anti-air Modular Missile (CAMM) family has been confirmed for the NAREW programme. Flying at supersonic speeds, CAMM…

International World Updates

Russian Embassy outraged over US hostile actions toward Russian Community Council of USA

Moscow [Russia] : The Russian Embassy to the United States has expressed outrage over the US hostile actions toward the Russian Community Council of the USA (RCC) and called on Washington to immediately stop the persecution of representatives of the Russian diaspora.The RCC announced on Thursday that it was temporarily suspending all activities due to an FBI probe into alleged violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) that targeted members of the Russian community in the US. FARA is a US law passed in 1938 requiring anyone representing the interests of foreign powers in a political or quasi-political capacity to disclose their relationship with the foreign government and information about related activities and finances. “We are outraged by the hostile actions of the United States against our compatriots taken under the pretext of suspicion over the work in the United States without registration…

International US News

Pro-Iranian forces targeted US base in Syria

Washington [US] : Pro-Iranian forces have carried out a drone attack on a US base in Syria in response to Israeli airstrikes on the Arab Republic, US media reported.In late October, the US base of At Tanf came under a drone attack. The White House believes that the recent attack on its military base in Syria was “deliberate and coordinated” and the United States reserves the right to respond. According to The New York Times newspaper, the base was attacked by five “suicide drones” but only two of them exploded. Most of the US soldiers were evacuated from the base after receiving a warning from Israeli intelligence.US officials told The New York Times that the attack had been directed by Iran that supplied the proxy forces with the needed equipment.Both US and Israeli officials said that the attack was a retaliation for several Israeli…

Europe International

Ukrainian police arrest suspects for plotting Food Minister’s murder

Kiev [Ukraine]: Several Ukrainians and a US national have been arrested on suspicion of giving the order to kill Agrarian Policy and Food Minister Roman Leshchenko, the Ukrainian interior minister said Thursday.“The US embassy has been informed about this… All of them have been arrested,” Internal Affairs Minister Denys Monastyrskiy told a news conference. Ukrainian media said the American is believed to be the main suspect. Together with a Ukrainian woman, he ordered undercover police agents posing as would-be killers to have the 32-year-old minister beaten up and killed.Leshchenko told reporters that he and his family had been routinely threatened since he was appointed to a government position in 2020. But he denied that the threats were related to his cabinet job.Monastyrskiy said at the briefing that the suspects sought to seize Leshchenko’s property allegedly to repay a debt he owed since the time…

Europe International

Merkel, in conversation with Lukashenko, refused to accept migrants from border

Berlin [Germany], November 18 (ANI/Sputnik): Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in a conversation with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, refused to accept migrants from the Belarusian-Polish border, since this is a European problem that Germany does not solve alone, a source in the German government told Sputnik. “Germany did not agree with this. This is a European problem, which Germany does not solve alone,” the source said.

Asia International

First consignment of Russian humanitarian aid lands in Kabul

Kabul [Afghanistan]: The first Russian consignment of humanitarian aid arrived in Kabul on Thursday.According to Taliban officials, three planes carrying 36 tons of humanitarian assistance landed in Kabul and the consignment was handed over to them, reported Khaama Press. The aid that included flour, cooking oil, and blankets was given to the Deputy Minister of Information and Culture and spokesperson of the Taliban Zabiullah Mujahid.The Taliban officials expressed gratitude to the Russian government and called on other countries to continue providing the Afghan people with relief assistance, reported Khaama Press.Russia intends to send to Afghanistan a total amount of 108 tons of humanitarian aid from which the first tranche arrived and the other two will soon be dispatched to Afghanistan, added Khaama Press.UN Migration Agency raised concern over the ongoing humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, saying that Afghanistan may fall into “extreme poverty” by mid-2022…

Africa International

Over 1.8 mln square metres of land cleared of landmine in Angola’s Lunda Sul

Luanda [Angola]: More than 1.8 million square metres of land was cleared from landmines in 2021 in Lunda Sul province, Angola, the National Institute for Demining announced on Wednesday.According to the head of the department of the Institution Jose Dumba, the demining actions were done in agricultural areas and in the construction site of new infrastructures in Saurimo, the capital of Lunda Sul province. The official explained that during the process, 1,524 unexploded ordnance devices were removed, with emphasis on anti-tank mines, anti-personnel, grenades, PRG, unexploded ordnance, 60 and 80 MM projectiles, cannon, large and small ammunition cartridges, fuses, and various metals.He underlined that the institution is doing demining work throughout the entire length of Lunda Sul province.Dumba added that the clearing of the areas will allow the increase of cultivation areas and free movement of people and goods with greater security.On the occasion,…

International US News

Trump administration was close to mini trade deal with India; but US domestic politics more complicated now, says trade body chief

Washington [US]: US-India Strategic Partnership Forum Chief Mukesh Aghi has said that the Trump administration was very close to the mini trade deal with India, but now the domestic politics in America is “much more complicated”.“With Trump administration, we were very close to the mini trade deal. I think to show some kind of success in early harvesting. It is important that India-US agree where it was left with the Trump administration to close that out to build the momentum itself. But the domestic politics in the US is now much more complicated,” Aghi told ANI on Wednesday (local time). Commenting further on the Biden administration, US-India Strategic Partnership Forum Chief said, “The progressive Left inserts labour rights, they talk about human rights, religious freedom, and I think if you start pushing those into a trade deal, you will not get a trade deal.”US…

Asia International

India, Singapore in talks to resume commercial flights soon

Singapore: It is learnt that Singapore is in talks with the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Ministry of External Affairs to restart scheduled commercial services with two daily flights each from Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai. As of now, only repatriation is taking place through Air India, under the Vande Bharat mission.Singapore has announced that from November 29 it will open up its Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTL) for India and once the programme is in place there will be no need for quarantine for vaccinated passengers. There is huge pent up demand for travellers from both sides. Technically, repatriation flights cannot be included under Singapore’s VTL arrangement and only scheduled commercial flights are included in this programme. It is learnt Singapore is keen that Singapore airlines should restart partial operations to India. Sources say that talks for resumption of commercial flights between Singapore and…

International US News

Japan, US launches initiative to facilitate discussions on trade issues

Tokyo [Japan]: Amid China’s economic rise, Japan and the United States on Wednesday launched an initiative to facilitate regular discussions on trade issues.The first series of meeting under the US-Japan Partnership on Trade is expected early next year, with the initial areas of focus including “third country concerns” and cooperation in improving a rules-based economic order in the Indo-Pacific region, Kyodo News reported citing officials of the two countries. The announcement was made as Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi held a meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, who is on her first visit to Japan since assuming her position in March.“Our close collaboration will support the Biden-Harris administration’s economic framework for the Indo-Pacific and help create sustainable, resilient, inclusive, and competitive trade policies that lift up our people and economies,” Tai said in a statement.In an apparent reference to China, Japan and the…

International World Updates

Brazil currently has no immediate plans to join OPEC

Brasilia [Brazil] : Brazil does not plan to join the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) at the moment, but is determined to interact with it in the format of cooperation, Brazilian Minister of Mines and Energy Bento Costa Lima Albuquerque said on Wednesday.“At the moment there are no plans to join OPEC. But we continue to work with them in the format of cooperation,” the minister said on the sidelines of the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference. He stressed that Brazil is the seventh largest oil producer and exporter in the world.“Therefore, we decided that we must have good relations with OPEC and OPEC+,” the minister added.In October 2019, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said that he would like to see his country in OPEC. In his opinion, Brazil has capacity to join the organization, since there are large oil reserves…

Asia International

IMF demands five major prior actions to resume loan facility: Pakistan finance advisor Shaukat Tarin

Islamabad [Pakistan]: Pakistani Finance Adviser Shaukat Tarin has said that IMF gave Pakistan a list of five major prior actions for the resumption of its six billion dollars Extended Fund Facility (EFF), local media reported. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Shaukat Tarin said the five prior actions going to be implemented by Pakistan include submission of abolishing of Tax Exemption bill 2021, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Amendment bill 2021, and already hiked electricity tariff besides two other minor actions, Geo Tv reported.He said that the IMF did not agree with the promulgation of the ordinance for withdrawal of tax exemptions but the government would have to submit a tax exemption bill in order to fulfil the IMF’s conditions. Citing top official sources, Goe Tv reported that the increase in monetary policy ranging from 75 to 100 basis points, adjusting upward from 7.25 to…

Asia International

American journalist released from Myanmar’s jail reaches US

Washington [US]: Danny Fenster, an American journalist who was recently released from jail in Myanmar, has now reached the US. He expressed his gratitude to everyone involved in his release, a media report said.“I just have so much gratitude right now for everything everyone’s done. I think every action everyone’s taken, it’s helped a little bit,” CNN quoted Fenster as saying Tuesday. It is Fenster’s first public remark since his release this week.Fenster was wrongfully detained in Myanmar since May 2021 in a Myanmar jail on charges of visa breaches, unlawful association with an illegal group, and incitement that was widely condemned by press advocates and the US government.The US on Monday welcomed the release of American journalist Daniel Fenster from prison in Burma, where he was wrongfully detained for almost six months.“We welcome the release of American journalist Daniel Fenster from prison in…

Asia International

Taliban deputy PM Baradar meets Iran’s special envoy, discusses Afghan political, security issues

Kabul [Afghanistan]: Taliban co-founder and acting Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar met with Iran’s special envoy to Afghanistan Hassan Kazemi Qomi and discussed political, security, economic and cultural issues, local media reported on Tuesday. Deputy PM Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar met with Iran’s envoy for Afghanistan Hassan Kazemi Qomi, Tolo News reported citing Mohammad Naeem, Islamic Emirate political office spokesman as saying. They discussed political, security, economic and cultural issues, he added.Earlier, Qomi also met with acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and acting Commerce Minister Nooraddin Azizi. “Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and acting Commerce Minister Nooraddin Azizi met with Iran’s special envoy to Afghanistan Hassan Kazemi Qomi and discussed the economy and the development of trade between countries,” Tolo News reported citing the Foreign Ministry spokesperson as saying. Qomi arrived in Kabul on Monday to hold meetings with officials…

Europe International

Belarusian forces do not interfere in skirmishes between Polish guards, migrants on Border

Minsk [Belarus] : Belarusian border guards do not interfere in the confrontation between migrants and Polish security forces at the border, a Sputnik correspondent reported from the scene on Tuesday.The migrants made an attempt to break down the fence on the border with Poland, but the Polish security forces used tear gas, water cannons and stun grenades to stop them, the correspondent said. A large group of refugees, mostly Kurds, headed for the Belarusian-Polish border on November 8. About 2,000 migrants, including a significant number of women and children, have set up camp near the Polish border in the vicinity of the Bruzgi checkpoint in the Grodno region. The Polish guard have been blocking all attempts to illegally cross the border. The situation in the camp has been described as catastrophic by a UN delegation.

Africa International

African Presidents commend intra-African trade fair

Durban [South Africa] : Addressing delegates at the Intra-African Trade Fair hosted in Durban, South Africa, the President of the Republic, Cyril Ramaphosa, said the event was more about building bridges, with its sole purpose being to bring governments closer together.Ramaphosa said the African Continental Free Trade Agreement was bringing together all countries in the region under one banner. He said the idea behind partnerships such as IAFTF and the ACFTA was to advance trade. “Our mission as Africans is to advance trade in our continent. Goods, products and services exhibited at this event represent all the African countries. Its success rests on its participants. The ACFTA must try to connect all the regions and deepen economic integration. This trade fair is about building bridges. It’s about connecting countries. It brings together governments, investors, buyers and manufacturers from more than 55 African countries,” Ramaphosa…

International World Updates

Healthy US-China relations imperative for effective response to global challenges: Xi at virtual Summit

Beijing [China] : Healthy and stable relations between China and the United States are imperative to maintain a stable international environment and effectively respond to global challenges, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday during a virtual summit with US President Joe Biden.“A healthy and sustainable relationship between China and the United States is essential to advance the development of the two countries and ensure a peaceful and stable international environment, including an effective response to global challenges such as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic,” Sputnik reported quoting Chinese Foreign Ministry reported. Xi Jinping expressed his readiness to work with US President Joe Biden to build consensus to move China-US relations forward, adding that both the countries are at critical stages of development and the “global village” of humanity faces multiple challenges. Xi made these remarks during his highly-anticipated virtual meeting with Biden,…

International Middle East

Iran says IAEA chief to visit Iran “soon”

Tehran [Iran]: Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), will make an official visit to the capital Tehran soon, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh announced on Monday.The Iranian spokesman said that Iran is waiting for Grossi to respond to its invitation. Technical relations between Iran and the IAEA are going in a good direction, he said, adding that “Grossi has very close relations with both our atomic energy organization and our friends at the Iranian embassy in Vienna.”On his next trip, Grossi will meet the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) as well as Iran’s foreign minister, said Khatibzadeh.During a meeting between Mohammad Eslami, vice president and the head of the AEOI, and Grossi in Tehran in September, IAEA’s inspectors were permitted to service the identified monitoring equipment, installed in Iran’s nuclear facilities, and replace their…

International TOP NEWS UPDATES UK News

UK extends COVID-19 booster vaccine to people over 40 years old

London [UK]: The UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) on Monday announced that people over 40 years old living in the United Kingdom will now be eligible to receive a booster COVID-19 vaccine six months after having their second dose, as a new study showed that boosters give over 90% protection in adults over 50. “JCVI has previously advised booster vaccination for all adults aged 50 years and over and those in a COVID-19 at-risk group. The offer has now been broadened to include those aged 40 to 49 years,” the committee said in a statement.The booster vaccines to be offered to this new age group are Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, the same mRNA-type vaccine that is being used since September in people over 50 and at higher risk from the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. So far, more than 12,6 million people in the UK…

International Middle East

Turkey favours lifting of US sanctions against Iran: Foreign Minister

Ankara [Turkey]: Turkey has urged the United States to lift the unilateral sanctions it imposed on Iran, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday, describing the punitive measures against his country’s eastern neighbour as “inappropriate.” “Unilateral sanctions against Iran are inappropriate, they must be removed,” Cavusoglu said during a joint press conference with his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amirabdollahian, in Tehran.In 2015, Iran signed a nuclear deal, known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Actions (JCPOA) with the P5+1 group, which includes the United States, China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany and the European Union. It required Tehran to scale back its nuclear program and drastically reduce its uranium reserves in exchange for sanctions relief, including the lifting of an arms embargo five years after the deal was made. In May 2018, the US abandoned its conciliatory stance, withdrawing from the JCPOA…

International US News

‘US yet to decide on potential waiver of sanctions against India for S-400 purchase’

Washington [US] : The United States has not made a determination on a potential waiver of sanctions against India for its purchase of the S-400 missile defence system from Russia, a state department spokesperson said, noting that the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) does not have a blanket or country-specific waiver provision.The Joe Biden administration also urges “all of our allies, partners” to forgo transactions with Russia that risk triggering sanctions under the CAATSA, the spokesperson said in response to reports that Russia has started delivering the S-400 to India. India had signed a USD 5.43-billion deal with Russia for the purchase of five S-400 surface to air missile systems during the 19th India-Russia Annual Bilateral Summit in New Delhi in October 2019, for long-term security needs.Washington had indicated that the Russian S-400 systems may trigger CAATSA sanctions. The CAATSA is a…

Europe International

Stoltenberg says no consensus on having Ukraine become full NATO member

Brussels [Belgium] : North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members have no consensus on inviting Ukraine to become a full member, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says.NATO’s partnership with Ukraine has become closer, Stoltenberg told “Axios on HBO” on Sunday, adding that nonetheless, there is currently no consensus agreement on inviting Ukraine to become a full member of the alliance. Russian Ambassador in the United States Anatoly Antonov said earlier this month that any ambitions to see Ukraine becoming a NATO member state are unacceptable.During a Ukrainian delegation’s working visit to Washington, a new US-Ukrainian strategic charter was signed, which includes a provision reaffirming US support for Kiev’s aspirations to join NATO.Commenting on prospects for Ukraine’s NATO membership, Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin confirmed Washington’s support for Kiev’s aspirations, stating last month that third parties have no right to veto the accession.

International US News

Trump calls US ‘radicalised mess’ after indictment of his former adviser Bannon

Washington: Former US President Donald Trump has commented on the indictment of his former adviser Steve Bannon, saying that it demonstrates how Washington is failing in all aspects.“This Country has perhaps never done to anyone what they have done to Steve Bannon and they are looking to do it to others, also. If they would be so tough with China, Russia, and the world, who no longer respects us, maybe our Country would not be failing at a level at which we have never seen before,” Trump said in a statement. He added that the United States is heading in an “unthinkable” direction, with the situation having been exacerbated by the Afghanistan withdrawal, immigration issues and inflation.“The USA is a radicalised mess!” Trump said.On Friday, a US federal grand jury indicted former Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon on two counts of contempt of Congress…

Europe International

Belarusian Foreign Minister, EU diplomacy chief discuss border crisis

Minsk [Belarus]: Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei on Sunday discussed the Polish-Belarusian border crisis and sanctions in a phone conversation with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry said.“On November 14, 2021 Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus Vladimir Makei held a telephone conversation with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the European Commission Josep Borrell,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that “the difficult migration situation at the Belarus-EU border was discussed.” “The Belarusian side reiterated its readiness as a matter of principle for an equal and mutually respectful dialogue with the EU. The futility and counter-productivity of sanctions for the development of Belarus-EU relations was emphasized,” the ministry also said.

Africa International

Son of slain Libyan dictator Gaddafi to run for president

Tripoli [Libya] : Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi, son of Libya’s former dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi will be running for the post of president, according to officials.He registered as a presidential candidate for the December 24 election, an official from the electoral commission said, reported The Jerusalem Post. Earlier in an interview with the New York Times in July 2021, Saif al-Gaddafi had said that he wanted to “restore the lost unity” of Libya.The 49-year-old, who before 2011 had been seen as his father’s presumed successor, said politicians in the decade since have brought Libyans “nothing but misery”.In 2011, after four decades in power, Muammar Gaddafi and his relatives were targeted in a popular uprising. Three of the dictator’s seven sons were killed in the uprising.Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi was captured by a Libyan militia in November 2011, days after his father was killed.Four years later, a Tripoli…

Europe International

Russia ready to help resolve crisis on Polish-Belarusian border: Putin

Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy [Russia] : Russia is ready to help resolve the crisis on the Belarusian-Polish border, where migrants are trying to cross over into the EU territory, President Vladimir Putin said.“We are ready to do everything possible to help [resolve the crisis], if, of course, there is something that depends on us,” Putin said, as aired on Rossiya 1 broadcaster.

International UK News

Leaders must deliver on limiting global warming, Climate action can deliver sustainable future for all

Glasgow [UK] : New Climate action can be the driver for a green and equitable future for all, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed has said while urging people everywhere to demand that leaders deliver on their promise to limit global warming.Speaking ahead of the Amina Mohammed, which wraps up this weekend in Glasgow, Scotland, Mohammed underlined the need for greater funding and commitment, as well as solidarity. “Climate change doesn’t pause, and neither must we,” she said in her address to the TED Countdown Summit in her recently live-streamed TED Talk held recently in nearby Edinburgh and live-streamed globally.Mohammed, who is from Nigeria, recalled her childhood walks along the shores of Lake Chad, one of the largest lakes in Africa, with some 30 million people in four countries relying on its bounty.Back then, the lake was more like an ocean to her as it…

Europe International

Russia starts supplying S-400 Air Defense Systems to India

Moscow [Russia] : Russia has started delivering the S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile systems to India, the deliveries are going as planned, Director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC) Dmitry Shugaev told Sputnik ahead of the Dubai Airshow.“The supplies of the S-400 air defense system to India have started and are proceeding on schedule,” Shugaev said. The S-400 has already entered service in China and Turkey. Russia and India signed a contract on the delivery of S-400s in October, 2018.In August, the head of Russia’s state arms exporter Rosoboronexport, Alexander Mikheev, told Sputnik that negotiations on the supply of S-400 air defense systems were underway with seven countries in the Middle East, the Asia-Pacific region and Africa.

Europe International

UNESCO celebrates 75th anniversary

Paris [France]: World leaders, social activists, and artists marked the 75th anniversary of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) at a special ceremony in UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France, on Friday.Addressing the event, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said over the past 75 years, UNESCO has played a crucial role in connecting different cultures and nations, protecting the world, and promoting ambitious scientific innovations. These achievements are especially valuable when the world is facing a challenging era, he added. Aside from world leaders’ congratulatory speeches, the ceremony featured performances from artists from around the world, including Arab and Balkan countries and India.On Friday night, the Eiffel tower displayed the words “75 years” alongside the UNESCO logo for over three hours in celebration of the agency’s anniversary.

Asia International

Vietnam re-elected to UN International Law Commission

Hanoi [Vietnam]: Vietnamese Ambassador to the UN Nguyen Hong Thao has become a member of the UN International Law Commission (ILC) for the 2023-2027 term.Ambassador Thao was re-elected on Friday at the 76th UN General Assembly in New York with 145 votes for out of 191 votes, ranking 4th among 11 candidates in Asia – Pacific. At the UN headquarters shortly after being elected, Ambassador Thao told reporters that he is proud to continue to contribute to Vietnam’s rising position, living up to international friends’ expectations for Vietnam’s role of formulating international law to settle all disputes and promote cooperation among peoples. He pledged to make more efforts in his second term to glorify Vietnam in the international arena.Thao was the first Vietnamese elected to the ILC from 2017 to 2022. He graduated with a Doctor of Law degree from Paris I School, Sorbonne…

Europe International

New migrants arrive daily at makeshift refugee camp at Belarusian-Polish border

Minsk [Belarus] : A makeshift refugee camp on the Belarusian-Polish border daily receives new groups of migrants, Anton Bychkovsky, a spokesman for the State Border Committee of Belarus, told Sputnik on Saturday.“New groups arrive at the camp daily,” Bychkovsky said, adding that these groups are not numerous. The situation at the border remains more or less the same, according to the official.Meanwhile, nearly 100 migrants are already practically in Poland, near the fences close to the Belarusian-Polish border, according to the Belarusian official.“A group of under 100 people is near the [Belarusian] Bruzgi checkpoint, practically on the Polish territory,” Bychkovsky said.

International World Updates

New Zealand PM calls for solidarity against regional challenges at APEC meeting

Wellington [New Zealand] : New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reaffirmed her confidence in multilateral cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region and called for consistent joint efforts to tackle the most important regional challenges at the 28th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting on Saturday (local time).Addressing the meeting, Ardern, who chairs APEC in 2021, underscored the persistent challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic and the benefits of collaborative response by all member economies. Each economy is facing the same fundamental problems in terms of getting as many people vaccinated as fast as possible, keeping businesses afloat and people in jobs, resuming safe cross-border traveling, accelerating economic recovery, and securing an equitable response, she said.Looking ahead, Ardern stressed the importance of protection offered by mass vaccination.“Today is also a chance to look to the future, as we seek to emerge from this crisis better…

International US News

US, Japan reaffirm their alliance a cornerstone of peace in Indo Pacific

Washington [US] : US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, had a telephonic conversation with Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa during which he emphasised Washington’s commitment to work closely with Japan and other allies to advance their shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific.The two leaders reaffirmed that the US-Japan alliance is the “cornerstone of peace, security, and prosperity in the region and globally”, according to the US state department. This comes amid China’s rising assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.Amid China’s military rise, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Thursday met with the commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command and agreed to strengthen their alliance for a free and open Indo-Pacific.Japanese PM Kishida and US Admiral John Aquilino shared concerns regarding China’s unilateral attempts to alter the status quo in the region and exchanged views on North Korea’s test-firing of missiles, Kyodo News reported…

International US News

US launches talks with Japan to address steel, aluminum excess capacity

Washington [US]: The United States and Japan have started consultations to address issues concerning excess capacity in the global steel and aluminum market, the Office of the US Trade Representative’s (USTR) office said.“United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai and United States Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo today announced the start of consultations with Japan to address global steel and aluminum excess capacity, take effective measures to ensure the long-term viability of our steel and aluminum industries, and find solutions to strengthen our democratic alliance,” the Office of the US Trade Representative said in a press release on Friday. US and Japanese officials will also work to resolve bilateral issues related to steel and aluminum tariffs and the two countries intend to take beneficial actions that will restore market-oriented conditions, the release said.The US officials emphasized concerns about China and its role in supporting…

Asia International

Pak’s Lahore declared most polluted city globally after breaching AQI 700 mark

Lahore [Pakistan]: Pakistan’s Lahore has been declared the most polluted city globally after the city recorded its highest ever smog levels as the Air Quality Index (AQI) went above 700, reported a local media. The Air Quality Index data was released on Thursday and put Lahore on the list of the most polluted cities in the world.The AQI remained above 500 for the fourth consecutive day in various parts of the city which worsened to 700 after 12 pm on Thursday, reported Samaa TV. Meanwhile, the issue of pollution has hit the Pakistani courts as an environmental pollution case was heard in the Lahore High Court on Friday. The HC judge said that no measures have been taken by the authorities to bring the pollution to curb the smog, reported Samaa TV. “Now I will visit myself to know the whole matter because our…

Europe International

End of election campaign, Bulgarians vote on November 14

Sofia [Bulgaria]: The election campaign for the elections for the 47th National Assembly and the elections for president and vice-president of Bulgaria ends at 24.00 hrs on November 12.The campaign was launched on October 15, 2021 (30 days before election day – November 14). If a new vote is held (second stage), the election campaign in the elections for President and Vice President of the Republic ends on November 19, 2021 at 24.00 hrs. 20 parties and seven coalitions have registered to run in the parliamentary elections. It is expected that the 47th National Assembly will include six parties and coalitions according to the data of the sociological agencies – these are GERB-SDS, “BSP for Bulgaria”, “We Continue the Change”, TISP, DPS and “Democratic Bulgaria”.A total of 24 parties, coalitions and initiative committees are registered in the public register for the presidential and vice-presidential…

International US News

Joe Biden administration settles for automatic job authorisation for spouses of H-1B visa holders

Washington [US] : In yet another immigration-friendly move, the Biden administration has agreed to provide automatic work authorisation permits to spouses of H-1B visas holders, a step that would benefit thousands of Indian-American women. The settlement in this regard was reached by the Department of Homeland Security in a class-action lawsuit, which was filed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) on behalf of immigrant spouses this summer.”This (H-4 visa holders) is a group that always met the regulatory test for automatic extension of EADs (employment authorisation documents), but the agency previously prohibited them from that benefit and forced them to wait for reauthorisation. People were suffering. They were losing their high-paying jobs for absolutely no legitimate reason causing harm to them and US businesses,” Jon Wasden from AILA said. The litigation successfully achieved the reversal of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)…

Asia International

Japan’s new Foreign Minister confirms intention to sign peace treaty with Russia

Tokyo [Japan] : Japan intends to resolve the issue of the ownership of the four disputed islands, Kunashir, Iturup, Shikotan and Habomai, and eventually sign a peace treaty with Russia, recently appointed Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said on Friday.“As for the peace treaty with Russia, we intend to resolve the issue of the ownership of the four islands and conclude a peace treaty, without shifting this responsibility onto future generations. We will be working on this on the basis of the previously reached agreements, including the agreement secured in Singapore in 2018,” Hayashi said at a press conference.

International Middle East

Egypt to host COP27 international climate conference next year

Glasgow [UK]: The UN climate change conference COP26 in Glasgow has announced that Egypt was chosen to host the upcoming session of the conference in 2022 (COP27).At the summit on Thursday, Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and Special Envoy for Climate Change congratulated Egypt, highlighting that the UAE will cooperate with partners everywhere to identify lessons learned in order to achieve effective results, Gulf News reported. He added that the UAE will work to ensure that all segments of society are part of this great effort to allow humanity to change course to a better future, extending an open invitation to the world to advance real climate action through inclusion, transparency and responsibility.The United Arab Emirates (UAE) will host the 2023 edition of the conference, Gulf News reported.His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister…

Europe International

Lavrov pledges to hold ‘serious conversation’ with France on Ukraine at Friday’s 2+2 talks

Moscow [Russia]: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced that he plans to hold a serious conversation about Ukraine with France at the 2+2 negotiations between foreign and defense ministers that Paris hosts on Friday.“France warns that it will raise the issue of Ukraine, and I believe it means our French colleagues understand that they cannot escape responsibility for the behavior of their mentees in Kiev, I mean the regime of [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelenskyy, at tomorrow’s negotiations and in general. That is why we will have a very serious conversation on this topic,” Lavrov said on Thursday at a joint press conference with Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop.

Europe International

Bulgaria: From today, a green certificate will be issued to those who had COVID-19

Sofia [Bulgaria] : From today, a green certificate will be issued to people with antibodies after suffering from Covid. Laboratories expect increased interest in the tests, but there are fears that the reagents will not be enough.The green certificate for antibodies will be valid only within the country for a period of 90 days. In order to get it, the test subject must have antibodies after Covid in a certain value – over 150 BAU, explained Nedyalko Kalachev – the owner of laboratories: “We send the information to the NHIS (National Healcertificate, antibodies, covid, bulgariath Information System), where they generate the patient’s certificate, we take it figuratively speaking and send the patient an SMS to which he has a link to download this certificate on his phone or computer. However, if it is less than 150 (balounits) there will simply be no certificate.”The state…

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