International

FDA Adds New Warning To J&J Covid-19 Vaccine

US regulators on Monday added a new warning to Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine about links to a rare and potentially dangerous neurological reaction but said it’s not entirely clear the shot caused the problem. The Food and Drug Administration announced the new warning, flagging reports of Guillain-Barre syndrome, an immune system disorder that can causes muscle weakness and occasionally paralysis. Health officials described the side effect as a “small possible risk” for those getting the shot.\ The action comes after the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reviewed reports of about 100 people developing the syndrome after receiving the one-dose vaccine. Almost all of them required hospitalization and one person died, the FDA said Guillain-Barre syndrome occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks some of its nerve cells, causing muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis that typically is temporary.…

International World Updates

Pakistan’s Private Schools Association Launches Documentary On Malala Yousafzai

Pakistan’s private schools’ association on Monday launched a documentary on Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai for her controversial views on Islam, marriage and her pursuit of the Western agenda. Malala, who turned 24 on Monday, was the co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize for her struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education. Having received the prize at the age of 17, Malala is the youngest Nobel laureate. She shared the prize with Kailash Satyarthi, a children’s rights activist from India. Addressing a press conference at his office in Gulberg here the All-Pakistan Private Schools Federation president Kashif Mirza said: “Through this documentary film — I am not Malala – we will tell 20 million students in 200,000 private schools across the country about her controversial views on Islam, marriage, pursuing of Western…

International US News

Russia, US must work to prevent armed conflicts due to threat of escalation: Antonov

Washington, Jul 13: Russia and the United States must do everything to prevent armed conflicts between the two countries, as they could potentially escalate to the nuclear level, Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov has said. “We think that it is necessary to do everything possible to prevent any kind of armed conflict between our countries, which inevitably could escalate up to the nuclear level,” Antonov told Russian-speaking students of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.

International World Updates

8 People Dies, 9 Missing In Hotel Collapse In Eastern China

Authorities say at least eight people have died and nine remained missing in a hotel collapse in Suzhou city in eastern China. The hotel building collapsed Monday afternoon, the Suzhou government said. Most people in the building at the time were hotel guests. Rescuers used cranes, ladders, metal cutters and search dogs to look for survivors. Twenty-three people were trapped. Six have been rescued. More than 600 people including earthquake rescue teams and 120 vehicles have been mobilized for the operation. Suzhou city is in Jiangsu province near Shanghai.

International

South Korea’s Capital Seoul Witness Distancing Curbs As Coronavirus Spreads

From Monday, South Korea will impose the highest level of social distancing restrictions (level 4) in its capital Seoul and other neighbouring areas with a view to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). South Korea, which is currently witnessing the fourth wave of the pandemic, has so far recorded 1,69,146 cases and 2,044 deaths due to the viral disease. According to the new regulations, private social gatherings of three or more people will be prohibited after 6pm, churches and night clubs will be closed, and visitors will not be allowed at hospitals and nursing homes. All types of rallies have been banned and only family members can attend funerals and marriages. On Sunday, 1,100 people tested positive for Covid-19, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA). This is the sixth consecutive day that the daily infections were above the…

International

Nepal’s Supreme Court Orders To Appoint Sher Bahadur Deuba As PM

Nepal’s Supreme Court on Monday reinstated the dissolved House of Representatives for a second time in nearly five months, delivering a major blow to Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli who is currently heading a minority government after losing a trust vote in the House. A five-member Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court on Monday also ordered the appointment of Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba as prime minister within two days. The bench led by Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana had concluded hearings in the case last week. The bench comprised four other senior most justices — Dipak Kumar Karki, Mira Khadka, Ishwar Prasad Khatiwada and Dr Ananda Mohan Bhattarai — at the apex court. President Bidya Devi Bhandari had dissolved the 275-member lower house for the second time in five months on May 22 at the recommendation of Prime Minister Oli and…

International

Georgia People Protests Over The Journalist’s Death

Several thousand people protested in front of the Georgian parliament on Sunday evening, demanding that the ex-Soviet nation’s prime minister resign over the death of a journalist who was attacked and beaten by anti-LGBT protesters. Cameraman Alexander Lashkarava was found dead in his home by his mother earlier Sunday, according to the TV Pirveli channel he worked for. Lashkarava was one of several dozen journalists attacked last Monday by opponents of an LGBT march that had been scheduled to take place that day in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi. Organizers of the Tbilisi March For Dignity cancelled the event, saying authorities had not provided adequate security guarantees. Opponents of the march blocked off the capital’s main avenue, denounced journalists covering the protest as pro-LGBT propagandists and threw sticks and bottles at them. Lashkarava, according to his colleague Miranda Baghaturia, was beaten by a mob…

International

Pfizer, US Officials To Meet On Covid-19 Vaccine Booster Shots

Pfizer says it plans to meet with top US health officials Monday to discuss the drugmaker’s request for federal authorization of the third dose of its COVID-19 vaccine as President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser acknowledged that “it is entirely conceivable, maybe likely” that booster shots will be needed. The company said it was scheduled to have the meeting with the Food and Drug Administration and other officials Monday, days after Pfizer asserted that booster shots would be needed within 12 months. Pfizer’s Dr. Mikael Dolsten told The Associated Press last week that early data from the company’s booster study suggests people’s antibody levels jump five- to 10-fold after a third dose, compared to their second dose months earlier — evidence it believes supports the need for a booster. On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci didn’t rule out the possibility but said it was too…

International

US reaffirms stance on South China Sea issue, urges Beijing to stop ‘provocative behavior’

The United States is urging China to cease “provocative behavior” and to respect international law when it comes to the South China Sea issue, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. Washington: “The United States reaffirms its July 13, 2020 policy regarding maritime claims in the South China Sea. We also reaffirm that an armed attack on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft in the South China Sea would invoke U.S. mutual defense commitments under Article IV of the 1951 U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty,” Blinken said on Sunday.The Secretary of State accused China of “coercing and intimidating” Southeast Asian coastal states and claimed that there was a major threat to maritime order in the South China Sea.“We call on the PRC [People’s Republic of China] to abide by its obligations under international law, cease its provocative behavior, and take steps to reassure the…

International

Scientists could pin down exact origins of Coronavirus in about 2 years: RAS Scientist

It could take up to two years to find out the exact origins of the novel coronavirus, Head of the Novosibirsk State University’s Laboratory and corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) Sergey Netesov told Sputnik. Novosibirsk: “I think it will take months, not days, maybe a year or two. There is a lot to study. The fact is that what happened, just like the occurrence of the SARS virus, is a very rare natural event,” Netesov said.He added that specialists in different countries are working on resolving the mystery of how the virus switched from an animal host to humans.“There is even a fundamental investigation underway in the United States related to the fact that it is necessary to study as many coronaviruses as possible, which live in bats and pets,” Netesov told Sputnik, explaining that different intermediary hosts for various…

International World Updates

Haitian police arrest one of suspected masterminds behind Moise’s assassination

Mexico City, Jul 12: One of the alleged masterminds behind the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise has been arrested, Police Director Leon Charles said. “The first person they called when the bandits’ advance was blocked was Emmanuel Sanon,” Charles told reporters on Sunday, as quoted by Acento. According to police, Christian Emmanuel Sanon, a doctor from the US state of Florida, has been arrested. Two other people “implicated in the intellectual authorship of the murder,” are being searched for, Charles said. Investigators believe that Sanon was in contact with a Venezuelan security company based in the United States – presumably, it organized the recruitment of Colombians, who are now being accused of killing Moise. According to Haiti’s police, a group of 26 Colombians and two Americans of Haitian descent are suspected of having carried out the assassination of President Moise in his home…

International

Richard Branson After Few Minutes Of Space Flight- Experience of Life Time

Touch down occurred around 09:40 am Mountain Time (1540 GMT), about an hour after take-off. United States:  British billionaire Richard Branson flew into space Sunday aboard a Virgin Galactic vessel, a voyage he described as the “experience of a lifetime” — and one he hopes will usher in an era of lucrative space tourism. “C ongratulations to all our wonderful team at Virgin Galactic for 17 years of hard, hard work to get us this far,” he said during a live feed as the VSS Unity spaceship glided back to Spaceport America in New Mexico. It reached a peak altitude of around 53 miles (85 kilometers) — beyond the boundary of space, according to the United States — allowing the passengers to experience weightlessness and admire the Earth’s curvature. The trip proceeded without drama, and touchdown occurred at around 9:40 am Mountain Time (1540…

International US News

Virgin Galactic delays spaceplane launch by 90 minutes over bad weather

US space tourism firm Virgin Galactic on Sunday pushed back by 90 minutes the highly anticipated launch of its passenger rocket plane, citing prior bad weather.“Overnight weather delayed the start of flight preparations, but we are on track to fly today with a newly scheduled time,” the company tweeted.The Unity22 mission is now scheduled for takeoff from the Spaceport of America, a US launch site located near the New Mexico town of Truth or Consequences, at 14:30 GMT (10:30 am ET).The 22nd VSS Unity test flight — the first fully crewed one — will briefly take two pilots and four mission specialists beyond Earth’s atmosphere, before landing at the spaceport.British billionaire Richard Branson, the Virgin Galactic founder, will be among mission specialists. He will “evaluate the private astronaut experience,” according to the mission’s statement.

International

India Temporarily Shuts Consulate In Afghanistan’s Kandahar

The Indian embassy had asked all Indians visiting and staying in Afghanistan to exercise utmost caution for their security and avoid all types of non-essential travel. New Delhi: Around 50 diplomats and security personnel were pulled out from the Indian consulate in Afghanistan’s Kandahar, people familiar with the development said on Sunday. This was done taking cognisance of the deteriorating security situation in the region as the Taliban gains control of new areas around the southern Afghan city According to the sources privy to the operation, a special aircraft of the Indian Air Force was sent on Saturday to bring back the Indian diplomats, officials and other staff members including a group of Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel. India has temporarily shut the consulate in Kandahar in view of Taliban militants rapidly seizing control of a number of key areas in the region as well as…

International

Pakistan strengthening border security amid fears of refugee influx from Afghanistan

Moscow : Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations Director General Maj. Gen. Babar Iftikhar says Pakistan has been working on strengthening security at the border with Afghanistan amid foreign troops withdrawal. “Right now, 90 per cent of the Pak-Afghan border has been fenced,” Iftikhar said in an interview with ARY News on Saturday, as quoted by the Dawn newspaper. He added that Pakistan is “very well prepared” and the current border security mechanism is “much better.” According to Iftikhar, Pakistan’s Interior Ministry is prepared for a possible influx of refugees from Afghanistan. The foreign troops withdrawal from Afghanistan, almost complete on the American side ahead of the September 11 deadline, is widely feared to bring about a humanitarian crisis in the country and cause waves of refugees to flee to the neighboring states. Tasnim Aslam, a former Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, told Sputnik on Wednesday that…

International

Sputnik V gives 90 pc protection against Delta strain of COVID19 – RAS scientist

Viral vector and mRNA vaccines, including Russia’s Sputnik V, provide enough protection against the new Delta strain of the coronavirus, Head of the Novosibirsk State University’s Laboratory and corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) Sergey Netesov told Sputnik. Novosibirsk : “According to data from the UK, the US and other countries, mRNA and vector vaccines, including our Sputnik V, protect against it [the Delta variant], albeit to a lesser extent, but they do protect against it. They offered 95% protection against the initial strain and now they give 90% protection against the ‘delta’ variant,” Netesov said.He added that the vaccines already developed should be used as they are quite effective.At the end of June, Vladimir Gushchin, the head of the population variability mechanisms laboratory of the Gamaleya research center that developed the Sputnik V vaccine, said that the Russian shots guarantee…

International

Women make up 63 pc of Spanish govt after reshuffle – PM

Women take 63% of the posts in the Spanish overnment after a reshuffle, which was announced by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Saturday. Madrid : “This will once again make our country a benchmark in terms of gender parity. Women take 63% of posts,” Pedro Sanchez said in a special appeal to citizens, adding that he had already reported to the king on the changes. The share of women among the 22 ministers went up from 54 percent in the previous composition, Sanchez said. In addition to improved gender balance, the new government represents “a generational renewal” as the average age has decreased from 55 to 50, the prime minister noted. The biggest change was the exit of Carmen Calvo, the deputy prime minister, with Economy Minister Nadia Calvino set to replace her. The number of deputy prime ministers will be reduced from four…

International

Russia interested in talks between India, Eurasian Commission on free trade – Lavrov

Moscow : Russia is interested in the start of negotiations between India and the Eurasian Economic Commission on the creation of a free trade zone, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday.“We are interested in the start of negotiations between India and the Eurasian Economic Commission on the formation of a free trade zone as soon as possible,” Lavrov said following his meeting with Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar. Lavrov says date not fet For high-level Russia-India summit yet The date is not yet set for the Russia-India summit, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday, adding that the leaders will hold a meeting when the COVID-19 situation allows.Russia’s top diplomat said that he had discussed the issue with his Indian counterpart, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.“We paid special attention to the development of political dialogue, preparation of the content of the future Russian-Indian summit,…

International

UNICEF To Supply 220 Million Doses Of The Johnson & Johnson To African Union

The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef) has announced the signing of an agreement with Janssen Pharmaceutica NV to supply 220 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) single-dose vaccine against Covid-19 for all 55 member states of the African Union (AU) by the end of 2022. Some 35 million doses are to be delivered by the end of 2021, Xinhua news agency quoted Unicef as saying in a statement on Thursday. The agreement between Unicef and Janssen will help implement the Advance Purchase Commitment signed between the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) and Janssen in March 2021. That agreement secured an option to order another 180 million doses, bringing the maximum access up to a total of 400 million doses by the end of 2022, said the UN agency. The AU established AVAT in November 2020 to deliver Covid-19 vaccines to the…

International UK News

PM Boris Johnson Announces Withdrawal Of UK Troops From Afghanistan

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Thursday the withdrawal of all British troops from Afghanistan, signalling the end of Britain’s military mission in a two-decade-long conflict. “All British troops assigned to NATO’s mission in Afghanistan are now returning home,” Johnson told the House of Commons, the lower house of the British parliament. The Prime Minister would not disclose the exact timetable of the departure for security reasons, but added that most of the 750 remaining British troops had already left, the Xinhua news agency reported. Over the last two decades, 150,000 members of Britain’s armed forces served in Afghanistan, 457 of whom died, according to Johnson. Britain’s move follows the announcement by US President Joe Biden in April that all US troops would leave Afghanistan before September 11, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that drew the United States into its longest…

International

26 Injured, 3 Workers Killed In A Massive Fire At Bangladesh Juice Factory

At least three workers, including two women, died and 26 others were injured in a massive fire at a juice factory on the outskirts of Dhaka on Thursday evening, officials said. The fire broke out at the multi-story building of the Shezan Juice Factory of Hashem Foods Ltd in Bhulota Karnagop area in Narayanganj around 5 p.m. and 15 units of fire services are still struggling to contain it, fire service and civil defence media official M. Rayhan told IANS. The deceased has been identified by police as Swapna Rani, 34, of Sylhet, and Mina Akter, 33, of Rupganj while another deceased man was yet to be identified. The injured were sent to hospital, Superintendent of Police, Zayedul Alam, said. The firefighters rescued 12 workers who were trapped on the second and third floors of the building after the fire erupted, Upazila Chief Executive…

International

Japan Under The Fourth Covid-19 State Of Emergency

The Japanese government has decided to place capital Tokyo under the fourth Covid-19 state of emergency, covering the entire duration of the upcoming Olympics, in an effort to curb a recent surge in infections. The government announced on Thursday that the emergency will be effective from July 12 to August 22, which may cause the Summer Olympic Games to be held without spectators at venues in the capital, Xinhua news agency reported. Addressing a news conference here, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said that the occupancy rate of hospital beds and the number of patients in serious condition remain low due to the vaccine rollout, but infection cases in Tokyo were rising due to the spread of the Delta variant. “We must avoid another outbreak starting in Tokyo. With that in mind, we decided to take preemptive measures, and declare a state of emergency for…

International

California To Pay Reparations Of $25,000 To The Survivors Of Forced Sterilisation

The California state in the United States is set to pay reparations of up to $25,000 to the survivors of decades of horrific practice call ‘eugenics’. The practice, which was prevalent from 1909-1979, the government sterilized some people, mostly with mental illness or physical disability, whom it deemed unfit to have children, according to the news agency Associated Press. Some of the victims of this practice include people as young as 13-year-old, the AP report further said. The supporters of the ‘eugenics’ believed the people with such “undesirable traits should not have children” in order to improve the human race. According to the Associated Press, more than 20,000 people were sterilized under this practice until the law was repealed in 1979. Notably, since the practice is so old, only a few hundred people might be alive by now. The state has set aside $7.5…

International

Explosion Erupts On A Container Ship At Major Global Port In Dubai

A fiery explosion erupted on a container ship anchored in Dubai at one of the world’s largest ports late Wednesday, authorities said, sending tremors across the commercial hub of the United Arab Emirates. The blaze sent up giant orange flames on a vessel at the crucial Jebel Ali Port, the busiest in the Middle East that sits on the eastern side of the Arabian Peninsula. The combustion unleashed a shock wave through the skyscraper-studded city of Dubai, causing walls and windows to shake in neighborhoods as far as 25 kilometers (15 miles) away from the port. Panicked residents filmed from their high-rises as a fiery ball illuminated the night sky. The blast was powerful enough to be seen from space by a satellite. There were no immediate reports of casualties at the port, which is also the busiest port of call for American warships outside…

International US News

Highly Transmissible Delta Strain Becomes Dominant Variant In US

The highly transmissible Delta strain has overtaken the Alpha variant to become the dominant variant in the US, according to new estimates from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Delta, which was first found in India and is now in over 100 countries, represented 51.7 per cent of new infections in the US over the two weeks ending July 3, Xinhua news agency reported citing the CDC. Meanwhile, the proportion of new cases caused by Alpha, which was first detected in Britain, was just 28.7 per cent over the same time period, according to the CDC. Recently, health officials and experts have warned that the Delta variant was on track to become the dominant variant in the US, as its prevalence in the nation doubles about every two weeks. They are concerned the variant will cause a surge in new cases…

International UK News

Uk Reports 32,548 Coronavirus Cases; The Highest Daily Increase Since January

Britain has reported another 32,548 coronavirus cases in the latest 24-hour period, the highest daily increase since January, according to official figures released on Wednesday. The total number of coronavirus cases in the country now stands at 4,990,916, the Xinhua news agency reported. The country also recorded another 33 coronavirus-related deaths, bringing the total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Britain to 128,301. These figures only include the deaths of people who died within 28 days of their first positive test. More than 45.5 million people in Britain have received the first jab of Covid-19 vaccine and over 34 million people have received two doses, the official figures showed. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday that most Covid-19 restrictions are set to end on July 19 as part of the final step of England’s roadmap out of the lockdown. This will be confirmed on…

International

Second Explosion At A Chemical Plant In Bangkok; 60 Injured And 30 Admitted To Hospital

A second explosion at a chemical plant in Bangkok left Thailand rattled on Tuesday, hours after the first blaze was extinguished in firefighting operations lasting well over an entire day. At the end of it, only twisted metal frames and charred remains were what remained of the Ming Dih chemical factory warehouses, reported the Associated Press, adding that the back-to-back explosions powerful enough to blow out the windows and doors of nearby residences. Even while the first blaze was being doused with water and foam to keep the highly flammable chemical styrene monomer from reigniting, a second explosion triggered a new fire on Tuesday afternoon that burned for about an hour, the agency added. Earlier, a massive explosion at the plastic pellet manufacturing plant on the outskirts of Bangkok had rattled areas as far as the airport terminal of Thailand’s capital. At least 60…

International

“North Korea Likely To Face Food Shortage”: United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organisation

The acute food shortage in North Korea where the price of a packet of coffee has gone up to $100 is just the beginning of a harsh, lean period in the country, the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organisation has forwarned, estimating North Korea’s food shortage of this year at around 860,000 tonnes this year. The country could experience a “harsh lean period” as early as next month, the UN body has said. According to the FAO report, as quoted by AFP, North Korea is projected to produce a “near-average level” of 5.6 million tonnes of grain this year, which is around 1.1 million tonnes short of the amount required to feed its entire population. With “commercial imports officially planned at 205,000 tonnes”, North Korea will likely face a food shortage of around 860,000 tonnes. “If this gap is not adequately covered through commercial…

International US News

Bagram The Last Of Military Bases The US Had, Handed Over To Afghan Forces

Bagram is the seventh and last of military bases the US has handed over to Afghan forces as it winds down its presence there of two decades and leave much ahead of the self-imposed deadline of September 11. The United Sates on Tuesday said the Bagram base was turned over after discussions and coordination at “higher levels” in both the Afghanistan government and forces and disputed an Afghan commander’s account of Americans leaving quietly in the night without notifying anyone. Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby told reporters the “final conversations” with the Afghans took place 48 hours prior and there had been a “general understanding and again, as we got closer, more detail was provided to Afghan leaders”. But, he conceded, “we didn’t go into the exact hour at which all US would leave Bagram” for operational security reasons. A top Afghan general who is…

International

Xi Jinping Promotes PLA Commander Xu Qiling To The Rank Of General

Chinese President Xi Jinping has promoted Xu Qiling, Commander of the People’s Liberation Army’s Western Theatre Command which oversees the borders with India, to the rank of a General, amid the continued standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh. Xi, who is also Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) – the overall high command of the PLA, promoted 58-year-old Xu to the rank of General – the highest rank for officers in active service in China. The other officers who were promoted to the rank of General included Commander of the Southern Theatre Command Wang Xiubin, Commander of the PLA Army Liu Zhenli, and Commander of the PLA Strategic Support (Missile) Force Ju Qiansheng, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. Xi presented certificates of the orders he signed to them at a ceremony held by the CMC in Beijing on…

International

Don’t return to era of ‘your terrorists’ and ‘my terrorists’: India cautions UN

India said that the international community should not forget that before the 9/11 terror attacks, the world was divided into “your terrorists” or “my terrorists”. India has cautioned that 20 years after the 9/11 terror attacks, there are attempts again to divide terrorism into different terminologies such as violent nationalism and right wing extremism, asserting that the world should not return to the era of “your terrorists” and “my terrorists” but fight the scourge collectively. Participating in the UN General Assembly debate on adoption of resolution on 7th Review of Global Counter Terrorism Strategy (GCTS) on Tuesday, India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador TS Tirumurti said that the international community has acknowledged that the threat of terrorism is grave and universal, and can only be defeated by collective efforts of all UN member states, without any exception. “It is only after 9/11…

International

Imran Khan, Kim Jong-un And Viktor Orban Among The ‘Press Freedom Predators’ List: RSF

Press watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has released a list of 37 heads of states who massively cracked down on press freedom. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban are among the “predators of press freedom”, said RSF. Two women, Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina and Hong Kong’s administrative chief Carrie Lam, have also been added to the list. This is the first time that women leaders have found a place on the press freedom predators’ list. The list was released on Monday. The list has come out after a gap of five years; the RSF released the last list in 2016. The global press body said that 17 of the 37 leaders have been added for the first time on the list. It has accused these leaders of “creating a censorship apparatus, jailing journalists…

International

Students Get Abducted By Group Of Gunmen In Northern Nigeria

Dozens of students were abducted Monday by armed bandits at Bethel Baptist High School in Damishi town of Chikun Local Government Area in Kaduna State in northern Nigeria. A group of gunmen stormed the school early Monday, at around 2 a.m., shooting sporadically as they kidnapped the students, said police spokesman Mohammed Jalije. The exact number of students taken by the bandits is not yet certain, he said. John Hayab, whose son attends the school and who narrowly escaped the abduction, said about 180 students attend the high school. “We cannot give the exact figure of those abducted for now, until those who ran into hiding for safety are back and a census of the students is taken, but we know they took a lot of students,” he said. “I am just speechless, I don’t know what to say. My son was among the…

International

Aircraft With 29 People Onboard Goes Missing In Russian Far East region

A Russian aircraft with 29 people onboard has gone missing in Russia’s Far East, local media reported on Tuesday. Twenty-nine people were onboard the aircraft including 6 crew members, Sputnik reported. An Antonov An-26 plane with 22 passengers and six crew members, flying from the city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to the town of Palana, missed a scheduled communication, local emergency officials said. The plane also disappeared from radar, the local transport ministry. The plane belonged to a company called Kamchatka Aviation Enterprise. The plane has been in operation since 1982, Russian state news agency Tass reported. The company’s director, Alexei Khabarov, told the Interfax news agency that the plane was technically sound. An investigation has been launched, and a search mission is underway. Two helicopters and an airplane have been deployed to inspect the missing plane’s route, local officials said. The plane was on approach…

International US News

US Is The Top Threat To Global Cybersecurity: Wang Wenbin

Amid strained ties between Washington and Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin on Monday said that the United States is “the top threat to global cybersecurity.”  “As facts have proven time and again, it is the US that has been forcing companies to install backdoors and obtaining user data in violation of relevant rules. The US itself is the top threat to global cybersecurity,” Wenbin said during a press briefing. Wenbin stated that the US has long been taking advantage of its advanced tech capacity to run invasive surveillance on people at home and abroad, steal various types of data and violate all kinds of privacy. “The Patriot Act adopted after 9/11 requires cyber companies to offer regular updates on user information. This move has drawn much attention from around the world. France’s CNIL decided in December last year that the French websites…

International

Two Doses Of Pfizer Vaccine Induce Good Antibody Response Against SARS-CoV-2 Variants

Two doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine induce a “very good” antibody response against the SARS-CoV-2 variants, according to a study on 180 health care workers in Finland. The research, published in the journal Nature Communications on June 28, found that the immune response was as strong against the Alpha variant first identified in the UK, as against the original virus found in Wuhan, China in 2019. The immune response was somewhat decreased against the Beta variant first found in South Africa, but the vaccine generated neutralizing antibodies that give relatively good protection against the variant. A neutralizing antibody is responsible for defending cells from pathogens. The researchers, including those from the University of Turku and University of Helsinki, studied the immune response induced by the coronavirus vaccinations, which started in Finland in December last year. They analyzed vaccine responses in 180 health care…

International

Military Plane Crash In Philippines Kills 50 And Injure 49

The death toll in the crash of a transport aircraft in Philippines has reached 50, with 49 others injured, officials said Monday. According to the details, the Lockheed C-130 Hercules was carrying 96 mostly combat troops when it overshot the runway while landing Sunday at the Jolo airport in Sulu province. It slammed into a coconut grove beyond the airport and burst into flames in a noontime disaster witnessed by horrified soldiers and villagers. Troops, police and firefighters rescued 49 military personnel, including a few who jumped off the aircraft before it exploded and was gutted by fire. Seven people on the ground were hit by aircraft parts and debris, and three of them died, the military said. The Lockheed C-130 Hercules was one of two refurbished US Air Force aircraft handed over to the Philippines, Washington’s oldest treaty ally in Asia, as part…

International UK News

UK Government Plans To Decrease The Gaps Between Two Doses Of Covid-19 Vaccinations

The UK government has ruled out plans to decrease the gaps between two doses of Covid-19 vaccinations, even as infections driven by the Delta variant are surging in the country. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation ruled out the three-week gap and recommended “an interval of 8 to 12 weeks between doses of all the available Covid-19 vaccines”, dashing hopes that the UK might be able to speed up the vaccination program by closing the gaps between doses, the Financial Times reported. The advisory body said this gap would “avoid confusion and simplify booking, and will help to ensure a good balance between achieving rapid and long-lasting protection.” Last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the UK is “very likely” to ease lockdown measures on July 19. It was pushed back by four weeks from June 21 amid concern over the spread…

International US News

Joe Biden: “Today We’re Closer Than Ever To Declaring Our Independence From A Deadly Virus”

Calling a vaccination “the most patriotic thing you can do,” President Joe Biden on Sunday mixed the nation’s birthday party with a celebration of freedom from the worst of the pandemic. He tempered the strides against COVID-19 with a warning that the fight against the virus wasn’t over. “Today, all across this nation, we can say with confidence: America is coming back together,” Biden declared as he hosted more than 1,000 service members, first responders and other guests for a July Fourth celebration on the South Lawn of the White House. For Biden, it was a long-awaited opportunity to highlight the success of the vaccination campaign he championed. The event was the largest yet of his presidency, the clearest indication yet that the U.S. had moved into a new phase of virus response. Shifting from a national emergency to a localized crisis of individual…

International

Delta Variant Continues To Evolve And Mutate; WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Warned

The world is in a very “dangerous period” of the COVID-19 pandemic compounded by more transmissible variants like Delta, which is continuing to evolve and mutate, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned. He said in countries with low vaccination coverage, terrible scenes of hospitals overflowing are again becoming the norm. “Compounded by more transmissible variants, like Delta, which is quickly becoming the dominant strain in many countries, we are in a very dangerous period of this pandemic,” Ghebreyesus said at a press briefing on Friday. “But no country is out of the woods yet. The Delta variant is dangerous and is continuing to evolve and mutate, which requires constant evaluation and careful adjustment of the public health response,” he said. Noting that the Delta variant has been detected in at least 98 countries and is spreading quickly in countries with low…

International

Death Toll From Northwest Heat Wave Expected To Keep Rising

Each day, more deaths are being linked to the heat wave that struck the Pacific Northwest this past week, with medical staff who treated people overwhelmed by temperatures well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius) saying the toll from the extreme weather will keep creeping up. Hundreds of deaths were being investigated as heat related in Oregon, Washington state and British Columbia. The dangerous heat began June 25 and only began to subside in some areas on Tuesday. The death toll in Oregon alone has reached at least 95, the state medical examiner said on Friday, with most occurring in Multnomah County, which encompasses Portland. The deaths include an Guatemalan immigrant who collapsed as he worked at a plant nursery in a rural Oregon town during the soaring heat. In Canada, British Columbia’s chief coroner, Lisa Lapointe, said her office received reports of at…

Africa International

South African Experts: Anti-Covid-19 Vaccines Pfizer And J&J Are More Effective Against The Delta Variant Of The Coronavirus Than The Beta Strain

The anti-COVID-19 vaccines by US pharma majors Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson (J&J) that are being used in South Africa are more effective against the Delta variant of the coronavirus than the Beta strain, experts have said. The Beta variant, which was first detected in South Africa, caused a second wave at the beginning of this year whereas the Delta variant, first detected in India, is driving the current third wave in South Africa, resulting in increased lockdown restrictions as the number of infections and deaths have already surpassed those of the previous two waves. In a media briefing led by Acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi on Friday, experts said that results in both laboratory research and field studies had shown that the vaccines were effective against the Delta virus. “What we have seen in the in vitro work is that the J&J vaccine…

International US News

Joe Biden: US Troops Not To Leave Afghanistan In Next Few Days

US President Joe Biden said on Friday that the drawdown in Afghanistan is “on track”, but troops will not leave the country in the next few days. When asked by reporters at the White House whether the US will complete withdrawal in the next few days, Biden replied, “No, we’re on track exactly as to where we expect it to be.” “I wanted to make sure there was enough running room that we…wouldn’t be able to do it all till “There’ll still be some forces left, but it’s a rational drawdown with our allies… there is nothing unusual about it.” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki later told reporters during a daily briefing that the withdrawal is expected to be completed by the end of August. Biden in April ordered all US troops to leave Afghanistan before September 11, the 20th anniversary of the…

International US News

India’s Ambassador In US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu Interacted With The WhiteHouse Fellows At EEOB

India’s Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu on Thursday interacted with White House fellows and discussed with them the intricacies of diplomacy and the relationship between the world’s oldest and largest democracies. Sandhu, in a tweet, said “an enjoyable and substantial interaction” with the White House fellows at Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which is part of the White House complex. “Covered wide areas ranging from diplomacy, India-US relations, regional developments, healthcare, energy, environment, IT and education with this group of young emerging American leaders in different fields!” he added. Founded in 1964, the White House Fellowship is a non-partisan programme that brings young leaders into the federal government to provide first-hand experience working at the highest levels of government. A key element of this unique fellowship is the education programme in which prominent leaders from across society meet the fellows. In the past,…

International

California Firefighters Battle Big Wildfires In High Heat

Hundreds of firefighters worked Thursday in high heat to beat back three large wildfires in the forests of far Northern California, where the flames destroyed several homes and forced some communities to evacuate. Mount Shasta, the volcano that towers over the region, was shrouded in a haze from smoke plumes that could be seen in images from weather satellites in space. The scene was ominously reminiscent of last year’s California wildfire season, which scorched more than 6,562 square miles (17,000 square kilometers) of land, the most in the state’s recorded history. An extraordinary Pacific Northwest heat wave that extended into the upper reaches of California was slowly receding, but it was only expected to cool off slightly before temperatures trend back up heading into the Fourth of July weekend, forecasters said. “It is very hot and dry,” said Suzi Johnson, a Shasta-Trinity National Forest…

International

UAE Bans Citizens From Travelling To India, Pakistan And Others

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has banned its citizens from traveling to several countries including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. This comes after the UAE last month extended the travel ban on passengers from 14 countries until July 21 in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Foreign Ministry and the National Emergency, Crisis and Disaster Management Authority stated that, with the start of the travel season, citizens need to comply with all precautionary and preventive measures related to Covid-19, The Express Tribune reported. In a notice issued to Airmen (NOTAM), UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority, said flights from 14 countries, includes Liberia, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic Of Congo, Uganda, Zambia, Vietnam, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Nigeria and South Africa, will remain suspended until 23:59 hours of July 21, 2021. However, cargo flights, as well as business and charter flights, would…

International

Delta Variant Expected To Become The Dominant Covid-19 Strain In Germany

The Delta variant is expected to become the dominant Covid-19 strain in Germany with its share of positive cases approaching 80 per cent, Health Minister Jens Spahn said. The share of new Covid-19 infections caused by the more infectious Delta variant has already more than doubled since last week and currently stands at 37 per cent, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the federal agency and research institute responsible for disease control and prevention. The German government would likely be able to keep its promise to vaccinate the entire adult population by the end of summer, Xinhua news agency quoted the Minister as saying to reporters on Thursday. The more people receive their second vaccine dose, the higher the level of protection will be against the Delta variant, he added. Till date, almost 31 million people in Germany have already been fully vaccinated,…

International World Updates

World Bank Expands Its Covid-19 Vaccine Financing To $20 Billion

The World Bank has added $8 billion more for Covid-19 vaccines, totalling $20 billion, for developing countries. Earlier it had announced $12 billion. The funding will be available through 2022, it said in a statement on Wednesday. “In view of the surging demand for World Bank vaccine finance, I am pleased to announce today that the World Bank is expanding its financing available for Covid-19 vaccine financing to $20 billion over the next 18 months, adding $8 billion to the previously announced $12 billion,” said World Bank Group President David Malpass, in the statement. Malpass also called on countries with surplus doses to release it for use by developing countries, and for vaccine manufacturers to prioritise the available doses for the developing countries that so urgently need them. On Wednesday, the bank’s private financing arm the International Finance Corporation secured a 600 million euro…

International

Historic Northwest Heatwave May Have Killed Hundreds

Hundreds of deaths in Canada, Oregon and Washington may have been caused by the historic heat wave that baked the Pacific Northwest and shattered all-time temperature records in usually temperate cities. Oregon health officials said late Wednesday more than 60 deaths have been tied to the heat, with the state’s largest county, Multnomah, blaming the weather for 45 deaths since the heat wave began Friday. British Columbia’s chief coroner, Lisa Lapointe, said her office received reports of at least 486 “sudden and unexpected deaths” between Friday and 1 p.m. Wednesday. Normally, she said about 165 people would die in the province over a five-day period. “While it is too early to say with certainty how many of these deaths are heat related, it is believed likely that the significant increase in deaths reported is attributable to the extreme weather,” LaPointe said in a statement.…

International World Updates

Chinese President Xi Jinping: “Will Never Allow Any Foreign Force To Bully Or Oppress Us”

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday called for building a strong military to defend the country and warned that the Chinese people will never allow any foreign force to “bully, oppress, or subjugate them”, as the country marked the 100th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Communist Party. Addressing the centenary celebrations of the Communist Party of China (CPC) at the historic Tiananmen Square here, Xi in over an hour-long address also said that integrating Taiwan with the Chinese mainland is a historic mission of the ruling party. “SAFEGUARDING NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY” “No one should underestimate the great resolve, the strong will, and the extraordinary ability of the Chinese people to defend their national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said. “We must accelerate the modernisation of national defence and the armed forces,” Xi, 68, said in his address telecast live by the official television…

International UK News

UK Reports Highest Daily Rise Of Covid-19 Cases Since Late January

Britain has reported another 26,068 coronavirus cases in the latest 24-hour period, the highest since January 29, according to official figures released on Wednesday. The total number of coronavirus cases in the country now stands at 4,800,907. It was the third consecutive day that Britain has reported more than 20,000 daily cases. A total of 20,479 coronavirus cases were recorded on Tuesday, Xinhua reported. The country also recorded another 14 coronavirus-related deaths, bringing the total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Britain to 128,140. These figures only include the deaths of people who died within 28 days of their first positive test. Earlier Wednesday, British Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said he expects school “bubbles” to be removed as part of the final step of England’s roadmap for lifting Covid-19 restrictions. Speaking in the House of Commons, the lower house of British Parliament, Williamson said that…

International

Delta variant to become dominant strain of Covid-19 in coming months: WHO

In its Covid-19 Weekly Epidemiological Update, the WHO said as of June 29, 2021, “96 countries have reported cases of the Delta variant, though this is likely an underestimate as sequencing capacities needed to identify variants are limited.” The World Health Organisation has said the Delta variant of Covid-19 is now present in nearly 100 countries as per conservative estimates, and warned that in the coming months the highly transmissible strain will become the dominant variant of the coronavirus globally. In its Covid-19 Weekly Epidemiological Update, the WHO said as of June 29, 2021, “96 countries have reported cases of the Delta variant, though this is likely an underestimate as sequencing capacities needed to identify variants are limited.”   A number of these countries are attributing surges in infections and hospitalisations to this variant. “Given the increase in transmissibility, the WHO warned that the Delta…

International

Joe Biden nominates Indian-American woman circuit court chief judge as federal judge

Nominated by Biden to the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Chief Judge Shalina has served on the Oakland County Sixth Circuit Court since 2007.  US President Joe Biden has nominated Indian-American circuit court chief judge Shalina D Kumar as a federal judge for the Eastern District of Michigan, the White House announced on Wednesday. Nominated by Biden to the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Chief Judge Shalina has served on the Oakland County Sixth Circuit Court since 2007. She was appointed Chief Judge of the Circuit Court by the Michigan Supreme Court in January of 2018, a media release said. Shalina would be the first federal judge of South Asian descent in Michigan, the White House said. In addition to her chief judge duties, Judge Shalina retains a full caseload covering both civil and criminal matters, the White…

International

Pak would not restore ties with India until New Delhi reverses its decision on Kashmir

Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Wednesday that Pakistan would not restore diplomatic ties with India until New Delhi revokes its decision of scrapping the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. India abrogated the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 on August 5, 2019 and bifurcated it into two Union territories. “I want to make it clear that diplomatic relations will not be restored with India until it rescinds the illegal steps of 5th August 2019,” Khan said while addressing the National Assembly. Khan said that “entire Pakistan stands by their Kashmiri brothers and sisters”. His statement comes amid reports of back-channel contacts between the two sides which led to a ceasefire on the Line of Control in February but no further movement has been reported to normalise the ties. Pakistan had downgraded ties with India and suspended trade after the Indian…

International

Bill Gates an ‘office bully’ and ‘womanizer’ : Allegations through a Report

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates was an “office bully” and a “womanizer”, Business Insider reported, adding that his clean reputation was just a result of “good public relations”. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates was an “office bully” and a “womanizer”, Business Insider reported, adding that his clean reputation was just a result of “good public relations”.  Citing four female Microsoft employees who described Gates as “brash” and “short-tempered”, a former company executive said that having a meeting with Bill was just an opportunity to “get yelled at”, so “I tried to avoid that”. According to the report, another former executive had something else to say. She found Gates “direct” and “honest”.  “Bill yelled at everyone the same,” she said.  Around the time he divorced Melinda Gates in May, some reports highlighted Microsoft co-founder’s “inappropriate behaviour” at the workplace and his relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.  “Microsoft’s…

International UK News

Ban On Flights From UK To Hong Kong, travelers in trouble

HONG KONG: For 22-year old Timmin Lam, who is studying in Manchester, the ban on flights from the United Kingdom to Hong Kong this week is the latest in a series of unrelenting measures that have prevented him from travelling home for almost two years. “I feel trapped in the UK. I really wish the pandemic would improve,” he said. Authorities in the global financial hub said on Monday that Hong Kong would ban passenger flights from the United Kingdom starting July 1 to curb the spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19. Britain has been categorized as extremely high-risk and people who have stayed in the country for more than two hours will be unable to board passenger flights for Hong Kong.It is the second time that the Chinese-ruled hub has barred arrivals from Britain; the earlier ban was in force from December 2020 until May. The government said the ban was due to…

International World Updates

Brazil To Suspend The Covaxin Deal With Bharat Biotech

Brazil has announced to suspend the Covaxin deal with Hyderabad-based laboratory Bharat Biotech. According to media reports doing the rounds, the decision was taken amid a probe into accusations of irregularities against President Jair Bolsonaro. Brazil had in February signed a deal with Bharat Biotech to procure 20 million doses of Covaxin for USD 324 million. The South America country’s Health Ministry had to pay USD 15 per vaccine dose to Precisa Medicamentos, the representative of Bharat Biotech in Brazil.  However, the price per dose, which was higher than for other COVID-19 vaccines, drew prosecutors attention along with ministry officials apparently ignoring a history of alleged irregularities by Precisa associates in previous contracts with the government. Precisa, however, said that the vaccine price agreed to with Brazil’s Health Ministry was the same as the price negotiated with 13 other countries and that the deal…

International

WHO certifies China malaria-free after 70-year effort

“Today we congratulate the people of China on ridding the country of malaria,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, was quoted in an official statement issued by the world body as saying. Following a 70-year effort, the World Health Organization on Tuesday certified that China is malaria-free, a notable feat for a country that reported 30 million cases of the disease annually in the 1940s. “Today we congratulate the people of China on ridding the country of malaria,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, was quoted in an official statement issued by the world body as saying. “Their success was hard-earned and came only after decades of targeted and sustained action. With this announcement, China joins the growing number of countries that are showing the world that a malaria-free future is a viable goal.” China is the first country in the WHO Western Pacific Region to…

Europe International

Inclusion Of Covishield In EU’s COVID-19 Vaccination Passport

External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar on Tuesday took up the issue of inclusion of Covishield in the EU COVID-19 Vaccination Passport with a top European Union official and promised to follow up on the matter. Only four vaccines- Comirnaty of Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Vaxzervria by AstraZeneca-Oxford and, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen- have been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Only those inoculated with these vaccines will be given vaccination passports and allowed to travel within the EU during the pandemic. People vaccinated with Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII), are unlikely to be eligible to travel to the European Union member states under the ‘Green Pass’ scheme as the vaccine is yet to be cleared by the EMA. Jaishankar, who met Josep Borrell Fontelles, the High Representative of the European Union here on the sidelines of the G20 Foreign Ministers’…

International US News

US Covid-19 Vaccination Slows Down As Delta Variant Infections Spikes

The Covid-19 vaccination in the US is slowing down while the highly transmissible Delta variant has spread to nearly every state, fueling experts’ fear about potential Covid-19 spikes. The 7-day average number of administered Covid-19 vaccine doses per day has decreased by 55.3 per cent from the previous week, according the latest weekly report of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). About 46.4 percent of the US population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, and 54.2 percent of the population has received at least one shot as of Tuesday, the Xinhua news agency reported. Roughly 154.2 million people are fully vaccinated. But some states- such as Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Wyoming- have low vaccination rates. The White House has confirmed the country will not hit US President Joe Biden’s goal of getting 70 per cent of American adults to receive…

International UK News

UK Govt ‘Sorry’ After Top Secret Files Left At Bus Stop

LONDON: Britain’s defense ministry on Monday apologized after top-secret documents assessing the movements of a Royal Navy warship in the Black Sea were found at a bus stop. Junior defense minister Jeremy Quin told parliament the government was “deeply sorry” for the lapse, which he blamed on a senior ministry official. One of the documents, which were found by a member of the public in Kent, southeast England, and handed to the BBC, was marked “Secret: UK Eyes Only”. The BBC reported on Sunday that the cache of papers discussed the possible Russian response to the Royal Navy’s HMS Defender travelling through Ukrainian waters off Crimea. Russia last week said it fired warning shots at the destroyer for violating its territorial waters, straining further diplomatic ties between London and Moscow. But Britain said it was a making “an innocent passage” in accordance with international law.Quin…

Europe International

Travel To Europe Still A Worry As India-Made Covishield Yet To Get European Union `Green Pass`

The recipients of the Covishield vaccine may not be eligible for Europe’s new ‘vaccine passport’ programme, which recognises a few COVID-19 vaccines whose recipients will be able to travel in and out of Europe with fewer roadblocks than others. The European Union has come up with the concept of Green Pass, which is an immunity document that is meant to ease travel within and to the bloc. Currently, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has approved only four COVID-19 vaccines for the programme and Covishield vaccine, developed by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), is not on the list.  Even though Covishield has the WHO’s approval, the ‘Green Pass’ program only accommodates EMA-approved vaccines. The four COVID-19 vaccines approved by EMA are Comirnaty (Pfizer/BioNTech), Moderna, Vaxzervria (AstraZeneca-Oxford), Janssen (Johnson & Johnson). This latest development comes as a shock to the people because while the India-made COVID-19 vaccine,…

Africa International

South Africa Debates Should Women Have Multiple Husbands

The South African government’s proposal to allow women to have more than one husband has sparked widespread debate in the country. South Africa already has one of the world’s most liberal constitutions, allowing same-sex marriages for all and polygamy for men. Gender rights activists have been petitioning the government to legalise polyandrous unions — women having more than one husband — in the interest of equality and choice. Now, in a bid to make the institution of marriage more inclusive, the legalisation of polyandry was put forward in a green paper published by the Department of Home Affairs. Part of a sweeping move by the government to reform the country’s Marriage Act, the proposal has the country’s conservatives and certain religious groups up in arms. Expressing opposition to polyandry in the strongest terms, TV personality Musa Mseleku, who has four wives, told the BBC,…

International US News

US Announces $41 Million Additional Covid-19 Assistance To India

The US has announced an additional USD 41 million assistance to help India respond to the Covid-19 pandemic and strengthen the country’s preparedness for future health emergencies, taking the total aid to more than USD 200 million. In April and May, India struggled with the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic with more than 3,00,000 daily new cases. Hospitals were reeling under a shortage of medical oxygen and beds. “India came to the assistance of the United States during this country’s time of need, and now the United States stands with the people of India as they continue to battle the Covid-19 pandemic,” the US Agency for International Development said on Monday. USAID announced an additional USD 41 million in support to help India respond to the Covid-19 pandemic and strengthen the country’s preparedness for Covid-19 and future health emergencies. USAID’s assistance will support…

Europe International

EU leaders defend LGBT rights amid concern over Hungary law

European Union leaders clashed with Hungary’s prime minister during a heated summit Thursday over new legislation in his country that will ban showing content about LGBT issues to children, a measure that has been widely criticised across the region and has angered human rights groups. A majority of the leaders insisted that discrimination must not be tolerated in the 27-nation bloc and told Viktor Orban that the new Hungarian law goes against the EU’s fundamental values. “Being homosexual is not a choice; being homophobic is,” Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo told Orban during the meeting, according to a EU diplomat. The person spoke anonymously according to usual practice. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte launched a virulent tongue-lashing, suggesting that Orban activate the same clause in the bloc’s treaty that Britain used to leave if he is not happy with the EU’s principles, another…

International UK News

UK reports highest daily COVID cases since February

Britain has reported another 18,270 coronavirus cases in the latest 24-hour period, the highest since early February, according to official figures released on Saturday. The total number of coronavirus cases in the country now stands at 4,717,811, the Xinhua news agency reported. The country also recorded another 23 coronavirus-related deaths, bringing the national death toll to 128,089. These figures only include the deaths of people who died within 28 days of their first positive test. More than 44 million people in Britain have received the first Covid-19 vaccine jab and more than 32.2 million people have received two doses, the latest figures also showed. The latest data were revealed as adults in England are able to get a Covid-19 vaccine without an appointment at hundreds of walk-in sites across the country this weekend. In the “grab a jab” campaign, those aged 18 and over…

Asia International

Hong Kong’s longest railway line to open fully

Tuen Ma Line, the longest railway line in Hong Kong, will fully open on Sunday, running through the eastern and western New Territories and Kowloon.   Chief Executive Carrie Lam officiated a ceremony celebrating the opening of Tuen Ma Line on Saturday, saying it was another major transport infrastructure completed by the current government, reports Xinhua news agency. The city government will continue to improve Hong Kong’s railway network to make it more convenient for the public to travel, she added. The 56 km-long Tuen Ma Line has 27 stations and connects Tuen Mun to Wu Kai Sha of the New Territories, making Hong Kong’s railway network more comprehensive. Tuen Ma Line Phase 1 was opened on February 14, 2020. One of the challenges in the construction of Tuen Ma Line was heritage conservation. A large number of relics were found when Sung Wong Toi…

International Middle East

Palestine calls for int’l sanctions against Israel

Palestine has called for imposing international sanctions against Israel to stop its policies against the Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Saturday that it supports an Amnesty International report issued on June 24 saying Israeli security forces committed violations against the Palestinians, reports Xinhua news agency. “Israel doesn’t care about reports issued by credible international organizations like Amnesty International, which considers Israeli practices the most heinous forms of racial discrimination against the Palestinians,” the Ministry statement said. The statement also slammed the US and the European Union for not exerting serious pressure on the Israeli government to stop its practices against the Palestinians. On June 24, the Amnesty International report said that Israeli police carried out “a catalogue of violations against Palestinians across Israel and occupied East Jerusalem”. The report said…

International US News

Joe Biden meets visiting Afghanistan leaders at White House

US President Joe Biden met his visiting Afghan counterpar Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah at the White House, amid the fragile security situation in the war-torn nation. Biden said at the beginning of the meeting on Friday that “our troops may be leaving but support for Afghanistan is not ending in terms of support and maintenance of helping maintain their military as well as economic and political support”. “Afghans are going to have to decide their future, senseless violence has to stop,” he continued. On his part, Ghani paid tributes “to the 2,448 Americans who paid the ultimate sacrifice, over a million American veterans who have served with honour and dignity for your security and our freedom”. He added that “Biden’s decision has been historic. It has made everybody recalculate and reconsider. We are here…

International

Indonesia: Several doctors die, medical workers test positive after taking Chinese COVID-19 vaccine

Facing increased COVID-19 infections and a deadly variant, Indonesia’s doctors are at the centre of the crisis as many have died after being vaccinated by the Chinese COVID-19 vaccine – Sinovac. On Thursday, the country recorded more than 20,000 cases of COVID-19, the highest number since the pandemic began. Oxygen is again running out at hospitals in Jakarta, the country’s capital and the national percentage of positive COVID tests reached 14.6 per cent this past week, reported the New York Times (NYT). Since the pandemic began, 401 doctors in Indonesia have died, the risk mitigation team of the Indonesian Medical Association said on Friday. At least 20 doctors were fully vaccinated with Sinovac. However, things took a downturn when 358 medical workers in Kudus who were vaccinated with Sinovac tested positive during a two-week span, according to the risk mitigation team of the Indonesian…

International

India is ‘incredibly important’ partner to United States in the region and globally: White House

India is an “incredibly important” partner to the US in the region and globally, the White House has said. India is an “incredibly important” partner to the US in the region and globally, the White House has said, underlining that America is working with the country on wide-ranging issues like economic, strategic, and security. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Friday said that the US took a range of steps to help India to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. “India is an incredibly important partner to the United States in the region and globally. We work with India on a range of issues, as you well know — economic, strategic, security,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at her daily news conference. “The United States certainly took a range of steps, as India was at the early stages of dealing with…

International

Brazil Govt Faces Probe For Choosing Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin Deal Over ‘Cheaper’ Pfizer Vaccine

The parliamentary inquiry is looking into the allegations that the Brazilian government deliberately delayed securing Covid vaccines. Congressman Luis Miranda and his brother Luis Ricardo Miranda, who raised suspicions about Brazil’s vaccine deal with India’s Bharat Biotech, arrived at a Senate commission inquiry on Friday wearing a bullet-proof vest for safety. They are key witnesses in the hearing over alleged wrongdoing in a vaccine contract signed by Brazil’s government to procure Covaxin doses in a deal costing1.6 billion reais (USD 323 million) The parliamentary inquiry is looking into the allegations that the Brazilian government deliberately delayed securing Covid vaccines besides the probe on its handling of the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than half a million people in the country. The coordinator of the Senate inquiry called for giving protection to Congressman Luis Miranda and his brother, along with the owners of Precisa…

International

Political Turmoil In Pakistan Ahead Of PM Modi’s Meet On J&K? Imran Khan Reaches ISI Headquarters

Pakistan is closely monitoring the ongoing activities regarding Kashmir in India and is worried over the smooth functioning of the government in Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan has also written several letters to the United Nations regarding Kashmir, but the UN did not consider it. Questions are also being raised in Pakistan on Pakistan’s strategy regarding Kashmir. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold an all-party meeting with the leaders of Jammu and Kashmir today. There are reports of panic in Pakistan ahead of this meeting held by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan visited the headquarters of the intelligence agency ISI yesterday. The meeting was attended by Imran Khan, the Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan, and senior officers of ISI.  This is Imran Khan’s second visit to the ISI headquarters within a month. According to sources, the meeting was held by…

International

SCO countries pledge to cooperate against terrorism, radicalism in NSA meeting

During the SCO meet in Dushanbe on Wednesday, NSA of member countries pledged cooperation in the joint fight against international terrorism, extremism and separatism. During the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meet in Dushanbe on Wednesday, National Security Advisors of member countries pledged cooperation in the joint fight against international terrorism, extremism and separatism. The NSAs of the SCO countries discussed cooperation against religious radicalism and the risks of increasing transnational organised crime, including arms and drug trafficking, as per exclusive details of the meeting. It was also stressed that the regional anti-terrorism structure of the SCO can play an important role in ensuring regional security and strengthening ties between member states in combating threats and challenges of the modern world. The meeting also discussed cooperation between member states in ensuring reliable information security, the joint fight against cybercrime and the issues of biological security…

International

US allows some H-1B visa seekers to re-submit their applications

According to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), such re-submission of applications is for those whose applications have been rejected or administratively closed solely because the requested start date was after October 1, 2020 Some foreign guest workers in the US will be able to re-submit their applications for the H1-B visa, the most sought-after non-immigrant visa among Indian IT professionals, if their petition was solely rejected because it was based on the initial registration period, according to a federal agency. According to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), such re-submission of applications is for those whose applications have been rejected or administratively closed solely because the requested start date was after October 1, 2020. The H-1B visa allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. Technology companies depend on it to hire tens…

International

McAfee antivirus software creator John McAfee found dead in Spanish prison

John McAfee, the creator of the McAfee antivirus software, has been found dead in his cell in a jail near Barcelona, a government official has said. John McAfee, the creator of the McAfee antivirus software, has been found dead in his cell in a jail near Barcelona, a government official has said. Hours earlier, a Spanish court issued a preliminary ruling in favor of the 75-year-old tycoon’s extradition to the United States to face tax-related criminal charges. Security personnel at the Brians 2 penitentiary near the northeastern Spanish city tried to revive him, but the jail’s medical team finally certified his death, a statement from the regional Catalan government said. The statement didn’t identify McAfee by name, but said he was a 75-year-old U.S. citizen awaiting extradition to his country. A Catalan government source familiar with the event who was not authorised to be…

International

Iran’s sole nuclear power plant undergoes emergency shutdown

An official from the state electric company Tavanir, Gholamali Rakhshanimehr, said on a talk show that the Bushehr plant shutdown began on Saturday and would last “for three to four days.” Iran’s sole nuclear power plant has undergone an unexplained temporary emergency shutdown, state TV reported on Sunday. An official from the state electric company Tavanir, Gholamali Rakhshanimehr, said on a talk show that the Bushehr plant shutdown began on Saturday and would last “for three to four days.” Without elaborating, he said that power outages could result. This is the first time Iran has reported an emergency shutdown of the plant in the southern port city of Bushehr. It went online in 2011 with help from Russia. Iran is required to send spent fuel rods from the reactor back to Russia as a nuclear nonproliferation measure. Earlier on Sunday, Tavanir released a statement saying…

International

COVID-19: Global caseload tops 178 million

In its latest update on Sunday morning, the University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering revealed that the current global caseload and death toll stood at 178,119,063 and 3,857,719, respectively. The overall global Covid-19 caseload has topped 178 million, while the deaths have surged to more than 3.85 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University. In its latest update on Sunday morning, the University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed that the current global caseload and death toll stood at 178,119,063 and 3,857,719, respectively. The US continues to be the worst-hit country with the world’s highest number of cases and deaths at 33,536,904 and 601,721, respectively, according to the CSSE. In terms of infections, India follows in the second place with 29,823,546 cases. The other worst countries with over 3 million cases are Brazil (17,883,750), France (5,817,272), Turkey (5,365,208), Russia (5,237,847), the…

International

Fear in Mexico border city after violence, 18 dead

 The attacks took place in several neighborhoods in eastern Reynosa, according to the Tamaulipas state agency that coordinates security forces, and sparked a deployment of the military, National Guard and state police across the city. Images posted on social media showed bodies in the streets. Fear has invaded the Mexican border city of Reynosa after gunmen in vehicles killed 14 people, including taxi drivers, workers and a nursing student, and security forces responded with operations that left four suspects dead. While this city across the border from McAllen, Texas is used to cartel violence as a key trafficking point, the 14 victims in Saturday’s attacks appeared to be what Tamaulipas Gov. Francisco García Cabeza de Vaca called “innocent citizens” rather than members of one gang killed by a rival. Local businessman Misael Chavarria Garza said many businesses closed early Saturday after the attacks and…

International

Covid survivors still at reinfection risk from Alpha, Beta variants

Immune response following a coronavirus infection can vary between individuals and may not be enough to fight Alpha, and Beta variant of Covid-19, finds a study reinforcing the need for vaccination. Immune response following a coronavirus infection can vary between individuals and may not be enough to fight Alpha, and Beta variant of Covid-19, finds a study reinforcing the need for vaccination. The study found that people who produced a weak immune response signature, obtained at one and six months post infection, failed to show any neutralising antibodies against the Alpha variant, with none mounting a neutralising antibody response against the Beta variant. The preprint study was led by University of Oxford, in collaboration with the Universities of Liverpool, Sheffield, Newcastle and Birmingham, suggests that whether it is symptomatic or asymptomatic infection, it does not necessarily protect people long-term from Covid-19, particularly against new…

International World Updates

NATO leaders declare China a global security challenge, express concern

NATO leaders on Monday declared that China poses a constant security challenge and is working to undermine global order, and they said they’re worried about how fast the Chinese are developing nuclear missiles. In a summit statement, the leaders said that China’s goals and “assertive behavior present systemic challenges to the rules-based international order and to areas relevant to alliance security.” While the 30 heads of state and government avoided calling China a rival, they expressed concern about its “coercive policies,” the opaque ways it is modernizing its armed forces and its use of disinformation. They called on Beijing “to uphold its international commitments and to act responsibly in the international system. President Joe Biden reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to NATO on Monday as leading members declared it a pivotal moment for an alliance beleaguered during the presidency of Donald Trump, who questioned the…

International Middle East

Israeli airstrikes target Gaza sites, first since cease-fire

Israeli aircraft carried out a series of airstrikes at militant sites in the Gaza Strip early Wednesday, the first such raids since a shaky cease-fire ended the war with Hamas last month. The airstrikes targeted facilities used by Hamas militants for meetings to plan attacks, the Israeli military said, blaming the group for any act of violence emanating from Gaza. There were no immediate reports of casualties. On Tuesday, hundreds of Israeli ultranationalists, some chanting “Death to Arabs,” paraded in east Jerusalem in a show of force that threatened to spark renewed violence. Palestinians in Gaza responded by launching incendiary balloons that caused at least 10 fires in southern Israel. The march posed a test for Israel’s fragile new government as well as the tenuous truce that ended last month’s 11-day war between Israel and Hamas. Palestinians consider the march, meant to celebrate Israel’s capture…

Asia International

China Space Station: First crewed mission to construct new orbiting laboratory launched

China on Thursday successfully launched its crewed spacecraft, sending three astronauts to its space station’s core module Tianhe for a three-month mission. The Shenzhou-12 spacecraft, atop a Long March-2F carrier rocket, was launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in northwest China’s Gobi Desert. The launch was telecast live by the state-run CGTN-TV. In few minutes of the launch, the mission control announced that the launch was a complete success. It is China’s seventh crewed mission to space and the first during the construction of China’s space station, according to the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA). It is also the first in nearly five years after the country’s last manned mission in 2016. The three astronauts are commander Nie Haisheng, a 56-year-old veteran who participated in the Shenzhou-6 and Shenzhou-10 missions, Liu Boming, 54, who was part of the Shenzhou-7 mission, and Tang Hongbo,…

Asia International

Putin lashes out at US after ‘constructive’ talks with Joe Biden

“As for the general assessment, I believe there was no hostility at all,” Putin said during his solo press briefing, adding that the meeting, the first of its kind since Biden took office in January, was “open” and with “no pressure of the parties on each other.” Russian President Vladimir Putin lashed out at the US on arms control, human rights, cyber-attacks, among other issues, after “constructive” talks with his American counterpart Joe Biden. “As for the general assessment, I believe there was no hostility at all,” Putin said during his solo press briefing, adding that the meeting, the first of its kind since Biden took office in January, was “open” and with “no pressure of the parties on each other.” Putin said that the two sides “differ in many respects” but “showed willingness to understand each other and seek ways to bring the…

International UK News

Joe Biden urges G7 leaders to call out and compete with China

Relations between the US and Chinahad become strained during the four years of Donald Trump’s presidency and his “America first” foreign policy. Leaders of the world’s largest economies unveiled an infrastructure plan Saturday for the developing world to compete with China’s global initiatives, but they were searching for a consensus on how to forcefully call out Beijing over human rights abuses. Citing China for its forced labour practices is part of President Joe Biden’s campaign to persuade fellow democratic leaders to present a more unified front to compete economically with Beijing. But while they agreed to work toward competing against China, there was less unity on how adversarial a public position the group should take. Canada, the United Kingdom and France largely endorsed Biden’s position, while Germany, Italy and the European Union showed more hesitancy during Saturday’s first session of the Group of Seven…

Asia International

Provincial lawmaker threatens to kill KP Sharma Oli

Narottam Baidhya, a provincial lawmaker from Bagmati Province, threatened to kill Oli while criticizing the recent expansion of cabinet and unconstitutional moves. Amid the ongoing political turmoil in Nepal, a provincial lawmaker from the opposition Nepali Congress has threatened to kill caretaker Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli. Narottam Baidhya, a provincial lawmaker from Bagmati Province, threatened to kill Oli while criticizing the recent expansion of cabinet and unconstitutional moves. “While talking about Nepal’s present scenario, Oli is rising in such a way that he has been compromising every aspect of governance in order to stay in power and save his chair. If we let Khadga (Prasad) Oligo loose then the country would collapse” Badihya said while raising his hand in the air. While making a reference to Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse, he made an appeal to “save this nation,” adding that “if no…

Asia International

Thousands of wild animals were sold in Wuhan markets

The wild animals that were sold included mammals such as civet cats, mink and raccoon dogs, which are known to be susceptible to coronaviruses, along with squirrels, badgers, foxes and hedgehogs, as well as birds and reptiles. Thousands of wild animals were sold in markets in the Chinese city of Wuhan ahead of the COVID-19 outbreak, according to new research. Wuhan, where the first coronavirus case was reported, is famous for the active trade of wild animals including mammals. In a detailed record of wild animal sales yet to be published, the British and Chinese researchers estimate that over 47,000 wild animals were sold in the city’s markets two and a half years before the disease emerged. In monthly site visits to 17 shops selling wild animals across four markets in Wuhan between May 2017 and November 2019, researchers documented the sale of 38…

Asia International

Hong Kong opens vaccine drive to children

Government officials said Thursday they will offer the vaccine to about 240,000 children from 12 to 15 years old starting Friday, joining other countries that have started vaccinating children. Hong Kong will allow children age 12 and above to receive the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine as it seeks to boost immunization rates in the city. Government officials said Thursday they will offer the vaccine to about 240,000 children from 12 to 15 years old starting Friday, joining other countries that have started vaccinating children.  The move comes as Hong Kong is urging its 7.5 million population to get inoculated. Since its vaccination drive began in late February, just over 15% of the population has been fully vaccinated.  The city has seen widespread vaccine hesitancy due to a mistrust of the government and outsized fears of side effects after several people died following inoculations, despite a determination…

UK News

Fauci warns of new Covid variant in UK

The variant has become the dominant strain in the UK, accounting for an estimated 60 per cent of new cases, replacing the B.1.1.7 strain. US top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci has warned of the risks of a new Covid-19 variant, first identified in India, which is now spreading widely in the UK. The Delta variant, known by the scientific name B.1.617.2, has spread from where it was first discovered in India to over 60 countries, according to the World Health Organization, Xinhua reported. More than 6 percent of the sequenced Covid-19 infections in the US trace to the highly transmissible Delta variant, Fauci said on Tuesday. The variant has become the dominant strain in the UK, accounting for an estimated 60 per cent of new cases, replacing the B.1.1.7 strain, according to Fauci. He called on more Americans to get vaccinated to keep…

World Updates

Extradition treaty between South Africa, UAE ratified

Former South African Justice Minister Michael Masutha had signed the treaty in 2018. The UAE, however, signed the treaty on Tuesday, its embassy in Pretoria said in a statement. An extradition treaty between South Africa and the UAE have been ratified paving the way for Indian-origin businessmen Gupta brothers to be returned to the African nation from Dubai to stand trial for allegedly looting billions of Rands from state-owned institutions. Former South African Justice Minister Michael Masutha had signed the treaty in 2018. The UAE, however, signed the treaty on Tuesday, its embassy in Pretoria said in a statement. “The treaties will enable the two countries to assist each other in the investigation and prosecution of crimes through mutual legal assistance and the extradition of fugitives,” the statement said without referring to the Gupta brothers. Negotiations on the treaty started in 2010 but were…

International US News

Joe Biden opens overseas trip declaring ‘United States is back’

The president’s first stop was a visit with U.S. troops and their families at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, where he laid out his mission for the trip. President Joe Biden opened the first overseas trip of his term Wednesday with a declaration that “the United States is back” as he seeks to reassert the nation on the world stage and steady European allies deeply shaken by his predecessor. Biden has set the stakes for his eight-day trip in sweeping terms, believing the West must publicly demonstrate it can compete economically with China as the world emerges from the coronavirus pandemic. It is an open repudiation of his predecessor, Donald Trump, who scorned alliances and withdrew from a global climate change agreement that Biden has since rejoined. “We’re going to make it clear that the United States is back and democracies are standing together to…

International US News

Bill to remove per-country cap on Green Card introduced in US Congress

A bipartisan legislation has been introduced in the US House of Representatives to eliminate the per country cap on employment-based Green Card. The legislation was introduced by Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren and Congressman John Curtis and it is likely to benefit Indian IT professionals anguishing over decades of Green Card wait. The Equal Access to Green cards for Legal Employment (EAGLE) Act, 2021 needs to be passed by the Senate before it can be sent to the White House for the president to sign it into a law. The bill phases out the seven per cent per-country limit on employment-based immigrant visas. The bill also raises the seven per cent per-country limit on family-sponsored visas to 15 per cent. Its predecessor, the Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act, was passed in the House in the 116th Congress with a resounding bipartisan vote of 365 to…

International World Updates

Vietnam holds parliament election amid new COVID outbreak

Fewer independent candidates than in years past are standing in this year’s vote for the 500-seat National Assembly. Mask-wearing Vietnamese went to the polls on Sunday, with tens of millions expected to select a largely rubber-stamp legislature amid a rapidly spreading COVID-19 outbreak. Fewer independent candidates than before are standing in the election for the 500-seat National Assembly, which is held every five years and usually after the governing Communist Party holds its congress to select new leaders.KEEP READINGClimate change brings gains for some Vietnam farmers at a costUS removes Vietnam, Switzerland from currency manipulator listNguyen Xuan Phuc sworn in as Vietnam’s presidentPhilippines, Vietnam press China over South China Sea activities Despite increasing openness to social change in the Southeast Asia nation and a plethora of free trade deals, the Communist Party – one of the last governing communist parties in the world –…

International Middle East

Israel-Palestine conflict: Joe Biden expresses support for ceasefire in call with Benjamin Netanyahu

US President Joe Biden on Monday voiced support for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in a call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “The President expressed his support for a ceasefire and discussed U.S. engagement with Egypt and other partners towards that end,” according to a White House readout of the phone conversation. Biden “encouraged Israel to make every effort to ensure the protection of innocent civilians,” said the readout. Meanwhile, Biden reiterated support for Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket attacks. “The two leaders discussed progress in Israel’s military operations against Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza,” it said. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken earlier in the day held multiple phone conversations over the issue with his regional counterparts, including Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi. The Monday call between Biden and Netanyahu was the third in less than a…

International Middle East

Biden expresses support for Gaza ceasefire amid mounting pressure

In call with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, US president also reiterates support for Israel’s ‘right to defend itself’. Facing increasing pressure from rights advocates and members of his own Democratic Party, United States President Joe Biden has conveyed his support for a ceasefire to end violence in the Gaza Strip. In a statement on Monday, the White House said Biden “expressed his support for a ceasefire and discussed US engagement with Egypt and other partners towards that end” in a phone call with Israeli caretaker Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “The President reiterated his firm support for Israel’s right to defend itself against indiscriminate rocket attacks,” the statement read. A day earlier, Netanyahu had said the Israeli military offensive on Gaza would continue “full force”;  Israeli air raids on the Gaza Strip since May 10 have killed more than 212 people, including 61 children, according to Gaza’s…

International US News

Joe Biden revokes Trump’s 2019 proclamation barring immigrants who cannot afford healthcare

US President Joe Biden on Friday (local time) revoked a 2019 proclamation issued by former President Donald Trump preventing immigrants from obtaining visas unless they proved they could obtain health insurance or pay for health care. In a statement, Biden said that the previous proclamation “does not advance the interests of the United States”. “My Administration is committed to expanding access to quality, affordable healthcare. We can achieve that objective, however, without barring the entry of noncitizens who seek to immigrate lawfully to this country but who lack significant financial means or have not purchased health insurance coverage from a restrictive list of qualifying plans,” he said. “NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America,… hereby find that the unrestricted entry into…

Africa International

Ethiopia delays polls again amid security, logistical challenges

Ethiopia has delayed its national election again after some opposition parties said they would not take part and as a conflict in the country’s Tigray region means no vote is being held there, further complicating Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s efforts to centralise power. Birtukan Mideksa, chairperson of The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE), “indicated that delays in opening polling stations and voter registration have pushed the voting day”, state news agency Fana reported on Saturday. Mideksa said that the election would not happen on June 5 as scheduled. “We will let everybody [know] soon as to how many additional weeks or days to complete the delayed tasks … Wouldn’t be more than three weeks,” she added. Mideksa cited a plethora of logistical delays, such as finalising voter registration, training electoral staff, printing and distributing ballot papers. “Practically, it became impossible to deliver all…

International UK News

UK health service under pressure despite pandemic promises

British authorities said on Friday that they are considering changing vaccination protocols and reintroducing local lockdowns to stem the spread of a coronavirus variant first detected in India, a warning sign for countries that are easing restrictions even though their own vaccination campaigns are incomplete. The numbers of cases involving the variant, known as B.1.617, rose from 520 last week to 1,313 cases this week in Britain, according to official statistics. The extent to which the variant has spread globally is unclear, because most countries lack the genomic surveillance capabilities employed in England. That surveillance capability has allowed health officials in Britain to spot the rise of concerning variants more quickly than other nations, offering an early warning system of sorts as a variant seen in one nation almost invariably pops up in others. Most cases detected in Britain are in northwestern England. The…

Middle East TOP NEWS UPDATES

Israeli airstrike in Gaza destroys building with various media houses

An Israeli airstrike has destroyed a high-rise building that housed The Associated Press’ offices in the Gaza Strip. The airstrike Saturday came roughly an hour after the Israeli military ordered people to evacuate the building. There was no immediate explanation for why the building was targeted. An Israeli airstrike has destroyed a high-rise building that housed The Associated Press’ offices in the Gaza Strip. The airstrike Saturday came roughly an hour after the Israeli military ordered people to evacuate the building. There was no immediate explanation for why the building was targeted. The building houses The Associated Press, Al-Jazeera and a number of offices and apartments. Earlier, the Israeli air raid on a densely populated refugee camp in Gaza City killed at least 10 Palestinians from an extended family, mostly children, early Saturday in the deadliest single strike of the current battle with Gaza’s…