KP Minister appeals to the public to join hand with Govt for a clean, green city


KP Minister, Shahram Taraqai, Clean and Green Pakistan, Shahram Tarakai

PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Minister for Local Government Shahram Khan Tarakai has appealed public to join hand with the government to make Peshawar a clean and green city.

Planting a sapling under clean and green Pakistan campaign in Peshawar, he advised the public to use dustbins for wastes in the city.

Read More: KP govt to establish shelter homes in five more districts

The Minister said strict action will be taken against those who are throwing waste materials at public places.

Earlier on August 9, Shahram Khan Tarakai today launched a special cleanliness drive in Peshawar, Radio Pakistan reported.

Addressing the inaugural ceremony, the Minister said more than seven thousand workers including youth, volunteers and social media activists are participating in the drive.

Read More: PM takes notice of rise in polio cases in KP, calls urgent meeting

He said twenty million rupees have been allocated to give reward to workers in acknowledgment of their performance.

He also appealed the people to cooperate with the workers in order to make this drive successful.

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Court extends physical remand of six accused in murder of teen boy in Karachi


Rehan, Karachi, Murder

KARACHI: Six accused in the murder of young teen Rehan on alleged theft were made to appear in front of the City Court, the court after hearing them awarded extension in their physical remand and handed them over to the police, ARY News reported on Tuesday.

According to details, the judge presiding over the case inquired those allegedly involved in carrying out the heinous crime that what and who gave them the authority to beat a child so severely that it resulted in his death, “what made you take the law into your hands.”

Read More: Police arrest three more in murder of teenager in Karachi

One of the accused, namely Daniyal replied that they had beaten the teenager “lightly.”

“The kid along with two more individuals broken into a house with the intention to steal, we caught him while his accomplices escaped,” claimed the accused.

The court rebutted that the claims of beating the child lightly were ridiculous as the beat down resulted in his unfortunate demise.

The state prosecutor informed the court that the crime comes under the charges of cybercrime and terrorism and those accused will be tried on them.

The prosecutor continued that further investigation from those accused was required to determine others involved and the weapon used to kill the child.

Read More: Family of teenage thief who died after extensive torture blocks road in protest

“I request more time to carry out the investigations and reach a better understanding of the crime, I urge the court to extend their physical remand,” said the prosecutor.

The court agreed and agreed to an extension for those accused in the murder, namely, Daniyal, Yousuf, Zubair, Anas, Shariq and Masood.

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16th day of curfew, communication blackout in occupied Kashmir


ICJ

SRINAGAR: In the occupied valley, curfew and other restrictions continue on the 16th consecutive day on Tuesday (today) since Narendra Modi government announced scrapping of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

The entire occupied territory particularly the Kashmir has been turned into a military garrison as Indian troops and police personnel are deployed in every nook and corner. In Srinagar, thousands of troops and policemen are patrolling the deserted streets, lanes and by lanes to thwart any attempt of people to stage anti-India demonstrations.

The authorities also continue to impose information blockade as TV channels and internet links remain snapped and restrictions on media continue since 5th August.

Almost all Hurriyat leaders, including Syed Ali Gilani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq continue to remain under house arrest or in jails. Thousands of other political leaders and workers including three puppet chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti are detained over the past two weeks.

Since August 4, an unprecedented communications blockade has been imposed in the region, cutting the region from the rest of the world and preventing contact within Kashmir and with the outside world for the 16th consecutive day today.

Due to the severe blockade, a famine-like situation is emerging as people are facing an acute shortage of essential commodities including baby food and life-saving medicines.

 

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Japan’s Hirohito ‘prevented from voicing remorse over war’


Japan’s wartime emperor Hirohito wanted to express his regret and remorse shortly after World War II but the prime minister at the time stopped him, local media reported Tuesday, citing newly disclosed documents.

The 18 notebooks, written by Michiji Tajima, a top official at the Imperial Household Agency, featured dialogue between him and Hirohito between 1949 and 1953.

According to the documents, the emperor said in 1952: “No matter what, I really think I need to include the word remorse” in his planned speech to mark Japan’s regaining of its independence later that year.

The emperor was also cited as saying: “For myself, I do feel great remorse. I really want to add the phrase — reflection on the past and self-discipline for the future — even if the words can be changed.”

But then prime minister Shigeru Yoshida opposed the emperor’s plan to publicly express regret and remorse, telling Tajima: “There is a danger that people will say he was responsible for starting the war.”

The phrases of regret and remorse were eventually deleted from the speech delivered by Hirohito to celebrate the 1951 San Francisco peace treaty.

Hirohito, who died in 1989, is the grandfather of Emperor Naruhito, 59, who ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne in May from his father Akihito, the first Japanese emperor to abdicate in more than two centuries.

Emperor Hirohito was once worshipped as a living demigod and served as Japan’s commander-in-chief during its march across Asia in the 1930s and 1940s.

Hirohito’s speech to surrender in the war was broadcast on radio on August 15, 1945, days after the US dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Hirohito’s responsibility for the conduct of the war remains a point of debate with some scholars, particularly American, who argue the emperor was not a puppet of the military but an active commander who escaped justice with US connivance.

The question of “remorse” over the war remains sensitive in Japan even to this day.

Last Thursday, Naruhito spoke of his “deep remorse” over the country’s wartime past, in his first speech to mark the end of World War II since his enthronement.

His comments were being monitored in Tokyo and throughout Asia for any change in tone but he closely echoed the language employed by his father Akihito.

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AJK President urges UNSC to fulfill responsibility for resolution of Kashmir dispute


Kashmir, armed forces, AJK president, AJK, Kashmir, Occupied Kashmir, UN, United Nations

ISLAMABAD: Azad Kashmir President Sardar Masood Khan has urged the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to fulfill its responsibility for resolution of festering Kashmir dispute in accordance with its pending resolutions.

Addressing a news conference on Tuesday, he said a meeting of the UN Security Council on Kashmir after a gap of fifty years is an important development. However, it is only a beginning.

He added that the government of Pakistan is determined to stay in touch with the Security Council as the situation in occupied Kashmir is expected to deteriorate in the days to come.

Read More: Saudi crown prince telephones PM, discusses Kashmir situation

He emphasized that it was the responsibility of the UN Security Council to hold open sessions on Kashmir and take steps to bring to an end the ongoing massacre of Kashmiri people.

“Illegal actions of the Indian government should be rejected by the Council,”  India cannot annex a disputed territory.”

He also said the dispute can only be resolved by granting right of self-determination to the people of Kashmir.

Voicing concerns over the current situation in Occupied Kashmir, the AJK President said that India had unleashed genocide in occupied Kashmir. He said the occupying forces have detained six thousand Kashmiri people and they are being subjected to violence.  Despite this situation, he said the Kashmiri people have so far carried out protests at more than three hundred places against the illegal Indian acts.

Read More: Indian Nobel Laureate slams Indian decisions and policies on IoK

“There is a humanitarian crisis in the occupied Kashmir as the people there are faced with the shortages of food items and medicines,” revealed Masood.

He said a humanitarian corridor should be established by the non-governmental organizations of the European countries to provide basic amenities of life to the Kashmiri people.

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India provides data of river water discharged to Pakistan


India river water, Pakistan

LAHORE: India has provided the data of the river water discharged to Pakistan in a telephonic conversation between Indus water commissioners of the two countries, ARY News reported on Tuesday.

According to the water data provided to Pakistan on Monday evening, India has released 24,000 cusecs water in River Sutlej and more 200,000 cusecs could be discharged towards Pakistan, sources said.

According to Indus Basin Treaty India is bound to give prior information to Pakistan before releasing water to the rivers in Pakistan.

It was earlier reported that River Sutlej may face flood situation at Ganda Singh point during next 10 to 15 hours due to the water released from India.

Flood Forecasting Division of Met Department in Lahore said that Ganda Singh point is currently at the below low flood level, with the current water flow of over 35,000 cusecs, which is expected to be risen up to 1,40,000 cusecs to 1,50,000 cusecs during next 10-15 hours, Radio Pakistan reported.

Palku Nullah at Sialkot is in medium flood situation with the current water flow of 3,100 cusecs. In Punjab, all other rivers and nullahs are flowing normally.

River Sindh is currently in medium flood at Guddu with an in-flow of 415,666 cusecs and outflow of 375,466 cusecs, while in low flood at Sukkur with an inflow of 353,287 cusecs and outflow of 294,162.

Meanwhile, the water level reached 17.60 feet at Ganda Singh Wala in Sutlej River on Tuesday morning.

According to relevant authorities, the water level at Talwar post is 8.40 feet, Bakerke Post 624 feet and FMD post 9.50 feet.

According to Pakistan Commission for Indus Water, discharge at Indian Harike barrage was gauged at 156,685 cusecs of water on Tuesday morning at 5 am.

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Harry and Meghan termed ‘most down-to-earth, compassionate people’


Prince Harry

LOS ANGELES: Elton John and Ellen DeGeneres spoke out on Monday in support of Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, calling them a down-to-earth and hardworking couple who were being unfairly attacked by the media.

John recalled his friendship with Harry’s mother, the late Princess Diana, in a series of tweets in which he appealed to the press to stop the almost daily “relentless and untrue assassinations on their character.”

The “Rocketman” singer was responding to criticism in Britain over two recent vacations taken by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and their three-month-old baby Archie to Spain, and to the south of France, where the couple stayed at John’s villa in Nice.

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Britain’s Sun newspaper at the weekend blasted the royal couple – Queen Elizabeth’s grandson and his American wife, a former actress – as hypocritical “eco warriors” for flying on private jets despite voicing concerns over the environment and conservation.

John tweeted that he provided Harry and Meghan with a private jet to his home for security reasons but said a contribution was made to Carbon Footprint Ltd, which offsets carbon emissions by funding environmentally friendly projects.

He added that he was “deeply distressed by (the) distorted and malicious account in the press” around their Nice visit last week.

In separate remarks, U.S. talk show host DeGeneres said on Twitter she had met and talked with Harry and Meghan in England about their work on wildlife conservation.

“They were the most down-to-earth, compassionate people. Imagine being attacked for everything you do, when all you’re trying to do is make the world better,” she wrote.

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Harry and Meghan’s wedding in May 2018 was marked by an outpouring of affection in Britain but less than a year later the couple have found themselves on the receiving end of a barrage of negative stories in the media. They have ranged from the $3 million cost of renovating their new home to reports dubbing Meghan “Duchess Difficult.”

While much reporting by the British press on the royal family is respectful, verging on the sycophantic, at other times it can be harshly critical, even cruel.

The couple have not publicly responded to the various attacks on them.

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Saudi crown prince telephones PM, discusses Kashmir situation


ISLAMABAD: Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman telephoned Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday to exchange views on the current situation of occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

As per details, PM Khan apprised the Saudi crown prince of the recent scenario in the occupied valley.

Both leaders also discussed the entire regional situation during the call.

Earlier on Aug 7, PM Khan had a telephonic conversation with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz and told him about the worsening situation in the held valley amid Modi government’s move to strip it (IoK) of its special status on Aug 5.

Since August 4, an unprecedented communications blockade and a strict curfew have been imposed in the occupied territory, cutting the region from the rest of the world and preventing contact within Kashmir and with the outside world for the 16th consecutive day today.

Due to severe blockade, a famine-like situation is emerging as people are facing a severe shortage of essential commodities including baby food and life-saving medicines, as per Kashmir Media Service.

 

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Bollywood director worried for Kashmir-based Zaira Wasim


zaira wasim, kashmir, shonali bose, bollywood

Indian filmmaker Shonali Bose is worried for the well-being of Kashmir-based actor Zaira Wasim who quit Bollywood in July. 

Taking to Instagram, The Sky is Pink director penned down a detailed note on the scrapping of Article 370 in occupied Kashmir and expressed her concern over the situation there. She revealed that she is unable to reach the actress due to the restrictions imposed in the valley.

The 54-year-old director called out the Indian government for their draconian measures in occupied Jammu & Kashmir.

“#NotmyIndia. It has been two weeks since the unprecedented communication blockade of Jammu and Kashmir. My heart is heavy as the sky is dark over India’s democracy right now. My heart has always ached for the terrible human rights violations in the Valley – right from the times of the Congress government in the 90’s. The disappearances and killing of innocent youth is not new. Nor is the opening of fire on demonstrations. But this government has crossed every line with it’s draconian measures,” she wrote.

Shonali questioned her countrymen how will they feel if their state would be converted into a union territory overnight. “I want to ask every Indian – every Bengali, Maharashtrian, Gujarati, Tamilian et al – how would you feel if your State was split overnight and converted into a Union Territory? Leave Article 370 aside for a moment and answer that honestly.”

“For me the shock and anger at this unconstitutional act is laced with sorrow at how our own people must be feeling in this part of our country. Feelings we can only imagine – as there is still a blackout!, ” she wondered what people in the valley must be feeling. 

The filmmaker said that apart from the 18-year-old actress, she doesn’t know anyone in the region personally. “On a personal level I have never known anyone before in the State. But now I have a child there. Zaira Wasim – the heart and soul of The Sky is Pink. I have known her and her family over one year – spent marvelous times with them in both Srinagar and Jammu. I was with them in Jammu just a day before this happened.”

She further added that Zaira was very worried about what was happening to the place she calls home and the two aren’t in touch anymore. “Zaira was very worried that something terrible was afoot because of the sudden influx of massive troops. I reassured her not dreaming something so draconian and unprecedented could be carried out. And since then I’m besides myself with worry at not being able to reach her. To give her strength at this difficult time. To wish them Eid Mubarak. I’m sure they couldn’t celebrate it.”

“We parted with the promise to stay in touch every day. Echoing a promise she and her brother make to each other in the film in a brilliantly acted and moving scene. But I can’t reach my baby right now. #NotmyIndia,” she concluded.

Dangal fame took to Twitter on August 5 to voice her opinion before a curfew was imposed in occupied Kashmir. “This too shall pass! #Kashmir,” she wrote.

Zaira last shot for The Sky is Pink which is all set for an October release.

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Repatriation of Hajj pilgrims from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan continues


Pilgrims, Hajj, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia

ISLAMABAD: Over 1,500 Pakistani pilgrims have reached Medina after performing Hajj, where they will stay for eight days to offer prayers in Prophet’s Mosque and visit shrine of the Holy Prophet [Peace Be Upon Him] to pay homage.

In-charge Medina departure, Rana Muhammad Nazim, while talking to Radio Pakistan, said that about 67,000 pilgrims have not yet visited Medina and they will be taken to that city in phases.

Read More: PIA’s post-Hajj operation begins, first flight lands at Karachi airport

He said all the Hujjaj will travel to Medina and Pakistan from Makkah by 6th of next month, except the ailing ones, who are admitted in hospitals. He said around four thousand pilgrims will move to Medina and Pakistan on daily basis and Hajj flight operation for repatriation of Pakistani pilgrims to their homeland will be concluded on 15th of the next month.

Earlier on August 18, A flight of a private airliner landed at the Lahore Airport carrying 207 Hajj pilgrims from Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, ARY News reported.

The Hujjaj were warmly welcomed at the airport by the authorities of religious ministry.

Read More: Hajj rituals conclude in Makkah

Earlier, PIA’s first post-Hajj flight PK-8702 with 166 pilgrims on board landed at Jinnah International Airport, Karachi today. The flight was departed from Jeddah airport.

Sources had said that the post-Hajj flight operation will continue for a month to bring back over 200,000 Pakistani pilgrims from Saudi Arabia.

 

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Elderly in Hong Kong looking to China for affordable care in retirement


HONG KONG: After spending time with his 84-year-old mother in a senior care home in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, David Lee walked up to the supervisor and asked to reserve a place there for his own retirement.

Lee, a 56-year-old from just across the border in Hong Kong, moved his mother, who has Alzheimer’s and other ailments, into Yee Hong Heights two months ago as it became more difficult for him to care for her.

An increasing number of people like him are moving outside Hong Kong – one of the world’s most expensive cities – to mainland China for cheaper and better retirement options.

“My mother had been queuing for two years for a space in a senior care home in Hong Kong, and she only waited two months before getting a space here,” Lee said.

It is a marked departure from the scepticism that greeted the Hong Kong government a few years ago when it tried to encourage seniors to retire in China’s Guangdong province as part of an effort to ease a housing shortage.

Many then were concerned about cultural differences, medical services and a lack of insurance coverage in the mainland.

But faster transport links to the mainland and an integration push by the Hong Kong and Chinese central governments under the Greater Bay Area initiative have helped ease some of those fears.

The senior care market in China is estimated to grow to 7.7 trillion yuan ($1.12 trillion) by 2020 and to 20 trillion by 2030, from 5 trillion yuan in 2016. That has led to a flood of investors from Hong Kong and overseas.

New World Development, a major Hong Kong developer, said it planned to expand “Humansa” – a senior healthcare and rehabilitation service it launched late last year – into Shenzhen, Foshan, Shunde and other cities in the mainland this year.

It has so far invested HK$400 million ($51.13 million) in the “high-quality and personalised” service, and owns about 1,000 beds in Hong Kong. In five years, it plans to increase the number to 4,000 in the Greater Bay Area, it said.

Baring Private Equity told an industry summit recently that it planned to invest in senior housing in the Greater Bay Area.

ROOM TO GROW

So far, there are at least five senior homes in Guangdong opened by Hong Kong investors or non-government organizations, providing over 2,000 beds, official data show.

According to an official Hong Kong survey, 77,000 people from Hong Kong 65 and older lived in Guangdong in 2016.

Hong Kong’s Labour and Welfare Bureau forecast there would be a shortage of 11,600 subsidised beds for elderly care in the 2026 fiscal year. That’s the equivalent of about 70 senior care homes.

A room in one Chinese elderly home serving Hong Kong clients costs less than $1,000 a month, just a fraction of the $2,000-$5,000 charged for a mid- to high-end facility in Hong Kong.

Elderly Hong Kongers who cannot afford those rates wait 37 months on average for subsidised senior housing, and the average room is 6.5 square metres, compared with 30 square metres in the mainland.

To encourage more seniors to retire in mainland China, the Hong Kong government grants social security assistance to underprivileged elderly in Guangdong and Fujian provinces.

The government also plans to grant additional old-age living allowances starting in 2020 for people living in the two provinces.

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WhatsApp in talks to launch mobile payments in Indonesia


WhatsApp, Indonesia, mobile payment

JAKARTA: Facebook Inc’s messaging service WhatsApp is in talks with multiple Indonesian digital payment firms to offer their mobile transaction services, in a bid to tap the nation’s fast growing e-commerce sector, people familiar with the matter said.

Indonesia could become the second country worldwide where WhatsApp introduces such services, as it awaits regulatory approval from India, its biggest market by users, that has been delayed due to local data storage rules.

But unlike in India where it plans to offer direct peer-to-peer payment services, WhatsApp will simply serve as a platform in Indonesia supporting payments via local digital wallets due to tough licensing regulations, the sources told Reuters.

The Indonesia model could become a template for Whatsapp to adopt in other emerging markets to get around regulations on foreign players creating their own digital wallets, the sources said.

Indonesia, home to 260 million people and Southeast Asia’s largest economy, is one of the top-five markets globally for Whatsapp, with over 100 million users.

The nation is set to see its e-commerce industry tripling to $100 billion by 2025, according to some estimates, but it also has some of the region’s strictest digital payments regulations.

WhatsApp is in advanced talks with several digital payments firms including ride hailer Go-Jek, mobile payments firm DANA, backed by China’s Ant Financial, and fintech startup OVO, which is owned by Indonesian conglomerate Lippo Group and is also backed by ride hailing company Grab, the sources said.

Deals with the three firms are expected to be finalised shortly, the people said, declining to be named as the talks are private.

WhatsApp has also approached state-owned Bank Mandiri (BMRI.JK), which operates a digital wallet, they said.

The Indonesia plan comes after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced earlier this year that it would be rolling out WhatsApp payments to “some countries”.

“As Mark has said earlier this year… we are looking to bring digital payments to more countries,” a Facebook spokeswoman told Reuters.

“WhatsApp is in conversations with financial partners in Indonesia about payments, however the discussions are in early stages and we do not have anything further to share at this stage.”

Go-Jek declined to comment. DANA, OVO and Bank Mandiri did not immediately respond to requests for comments.

A spokeswoman for the Mandiri-backed e-wallet LinkAja said she could not confirm any talks with WhatsApp.

The service was originally planned to start at the end of 2019, but two sources said they expected it to be delayed by several months, as WhatsApp would not want to launch in Indonesia before India.

One source said WhatsApp would need to get a nod from regulator Bank Indonesia before proceeding. Bank Indonesia did not respond to requests from comment.

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Indian Nobel Laureate slams Indian decisions and policies on IoK


Dr Amartya Sen, India, IoK, Indian Occupied Kashmir, Occupied Kashmir, Kashmir

Indian Nobel laureate Dr Amartya Sen vehemently criticised the government’s move on Kashmir, saying it not only emphasised majority rule “as opposed to it sustaining the rights of all human beings”.

“I don’t think ultimately you will have any resolution in Kashmir without democracy,” he told an Indian News media outlet in an interview.

Read More: Empty classrooms as some schools re-open in Indian occupied Kashmir

Pointing out the loopholes in the government’s decision on multiple levels, the 85-year-old said: “As an Indian, I am not proud of the fact that India, after having done so much to achieve a democratic norm in the world — where India was the first non-Western country to go for democracy — that we lose that reputation on the grounds of actions that have been taken”.

Amid anticipation about the possibility buying land in Jammu and Kashmir by people from other states, Dr Sen said it should have been “something for the people of the state (Jammu and Kashmir) to decide”.

Read More: Clampdown enters 15th day in occupied Kashmir

“This is something in which Kashmiris have a legitimate point of view because it is their land,” he said.

He was also critical of the government’s decision to keep the mainstream political leaders of Jammu and Kashmir under arrest.

“I don’t think you will ever have fairness and justice without hearing the voices of the leaders of the people and if you keep thousands of leaders under restraint and many of them in jail, including big leaders who have led the country and formed governments in the past … you are stifling the channel of democracy that makes democracy a success,” he said.

Read More: US President Trump, Modi discuss Kashmir issue: White House

Lashing out at the Indian government’s ridiculous military presence in the area in the name of “preventive measures,” Sen said that the excuse held no substance and was one used by the colonial occupants in the past.

“That’s the classic colonial excuse. That’s how the British ran the country for 200 years,” Dr Sen said. “The last thing that I expected when we got our independence… is that we would go back to our colonial heritage of preventive detentions,” he added.

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Punjab govt announces monthly stipend for acid attack survivors


GUJRAT: Shahbaz Gill, the spokesperson of the Punjab Chief Minister, announced a monthly stipend for girls and women who have survived an acid attack. 

Gill made this announcement during his visit to a house of an acid attack survivor girl in Gujrat. He handed over a cheque of Rs 500,000 to the victim’s family on behalf of Chief Minister Punjab Usman Buzdar.

The government could not construct bridges and roads, because “we paid more attention to paying off the country’s debt, the spokesperson said. “For one year, we implemented the policy of human welfare and will focus on it more in the next year.”

He assured families of acid attack victims that the government is standing beside survivors and culprits will be punished for their acts.

Other than providing a monthly stipend, the government has also legislated on the matter of eliminating the practice of acid attacks, Gill said.

 

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‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ is re-releasing with a new scene


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Hollywood film Spider-Man: Far From Home will be returning to cinemas with new footage soon. 

The film will be re-releasing with a new four-minute long action sequence on August 29 in theatres in  in the United States and Canada, reports Variety.

The superhero this movie had it’s fair share of success, becoming Sony Pictures highest grossing film moving past $1.109 billion globally over the weekend. But makers are hoping to get the fans back to cinema with an a brand-new action scene.

This joint-venture of Sony Pictures and Marvel is also the first Spider-Man film to hit the $1 billion mark and the fourth highest-grosser of 2019.

Previously, Disney re-introduced Avengers: Endgame to cinemas with new footage to break Avatar’s record and was successful in doing so. This move helped the film’s initial earning of $2.74 billion worldwide to climb up to  $2.7902 billion making it the biggest movie in history.

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PM Imran Khan presides over federal cabinet meeting on IoK, economy and LoC violations


Federal Cabinet, IoK, PM Imran Khan, Prime Minister Imran Khan, LoC, Line of Control, Kashmir, Occupied Kashmir

ISLAMABAD: The meeting of Federal cabinet is underway in Islamabad with Prime Minister Imran Khan in the chair, ARY News reported on Tuesday.

It will discuss the overall political and economic situation of the country as well as the situation in occupied Kashmir and the line of control (LOC).

Read More: Pakistan, Russia discuss defense cooperation in Moscow

As per details, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi will brief the cabinet members about so far progress made on the Kashmir issue and situation after the UNSC session will also come under discussion.

The cabinet will also review the situation along the Line of Control (LoC) and recommendations of the Special Committee on Kashmir will also be presented in the meeting.

The meeting will also get a briefing from the ministry of communications to review its one-year performance.

Approval of Rs.5billion loan for the low costing houses and Pak-Turk Strategic Economic Framework will also be green signaled.

The two bills related to domestic violence and Christian Marriage-Divorce’s approval is also on the agenda of the meeting.

On August 5, the Indian government had announced the scrapping of the special status of occupied Kashmir by revoking Article 370 of the Indian constitution.

Read more: UNSC meeting nullifies Indian claim that IoK is its internal matter: Maleeha Lodhi

Earlier, the UNSC met behind the closed doors in over five decades to discuss the Kashmir issue upon the request of Pakistan and China.

The meeting was convened following the Indian government’s recent decision to revoke the special status of occupied Kashmir.

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English town celebrates hometown hero Ed Sheeran


Ed Sheeran, singer, English town

The little-known town of Ipswich in eastern England has historically prided itself on farming and football, but is now celebrating the stellar pop career of its most famous son, Ed Sheeran.

The global hit machine’s journey to stardom began in the nearby town of Framlingham, where he played his first gig in front of around 30 people.

Fourteen years later, the singer is capping off a two-year international tour, on which he played for almost nine million people, with four homecoming shows in Ipswich.

An exhibition entitled Made in Suffolk“, will mark the event, tracing the career of the singer/songwriter responsible for hit singles such as Shape of You, which helped him amass a £160 million ($194 million, 175 million euro) fortune.

The show reveals his steely determination to make it in the music business and the unfailing support of his parents, who sold merchandise during his early concerts.

A video montage follows his journey from babyhood to adulthood, with his round face and shock of red hair a constant presence as he tries his hand at the piano, drums and the guitar, always with a smile on his lips.

A written account details how as a boy Edward Christopher Sheeran sang in the choir and played cello in the school orchestra in Framlingham while a photograph captures him busking in the street, guitar case open to accept donations, aged 13.

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Natural showman 

Ian Johnson, who spotted Sheeran when he was 16 and helped him break through, told AFP how he was “impressed with… the way he engaged the audience at that age”.

His career took off with the 2011 release of his first album, “+”, followed by a series of hits including Don’t, Thinking Out Loud and Castle On The Hill, which explores his love of growing up in rural Suffolk.

The exhibition presents both the superstar who electrifies crowds at concerts in Germany, Australia and the United States — captured by photographer Mark Surridge — and also the four-time Grammy winner’s more private side.

A bronze sculpture depicting a young Ed and his brother embracing each other is on show, as well as several drawings, including an Andy Warhol inspired self-portrait in orange and black, his favourite colours.

A series of portraits by the painter Colin Davidson, who counts Queen Elizabeth II as one of his previous subjects, reveal “the Ed I think we might see whenever he’s seemingly unaware of anyone else being in the room,” he told AFP.

“I like to think that’s the mood that he’s in whenever he’s on his own, creating his work or writing songs,” added the painter.

‘Humble’ guy 

Other highlights of the free exhibition, which runs until spring 2020, are two of his guitars, one of which he named Cyril, and which starred in more than 300 concerts in 2009.

There is also a puppet of the performer used in the video clip for Sing.

In Ipswich, the superstar is a hero.

The Swan pub in the town centre sells postcards and other memorabilia, and even keeps a bottle of Sheeran’s favourite ketchup in a plexiglass box “in case Ed comes”.

Singer Barny Holmes, who jammed with Sheeran about ten years ago, told AFP his success could be explained partly because “everyone can relate to an underdog”.

“You have this really humble, sweet, pale ginger guy… but he was a sweet guy that you just didn’t expect to have such a big presence,” Holmes said after a gig in the pub.

“I think that’s the Ed Sheeran effect.”

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Zahra Shahid murder: SHC commutes death sentence into life term


Zahra Shahid murder, SHC

KARACHI: Sindh High Court (SHC) has commuted the death sentence awarded to two convicts in PTI leader Zahra Shahid’s murder case into life term, ARY News reported on Tuesday.

An Anti Terrorism Court had awarded death sentence along with fine to two culprits of the murder of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Zahra Shahid, in its verdict on August 31 last year.

Ms Shahid was shot dead outside her residence in Karachi’s Defence Housing Authority Phase-IV in May 2013.

Convicts Rashid Tailor and Zahid Abbas Zaidi had challenged their conviction by the ATC in Sindh High Court.

The defence counsel in his arguments said that the case against his clients was registered nine days after the murder incident. He also said that the statements by the witnesses were contradictory.

The bench after arguments of the prosecution and defence commuted death sentence of the two convicts into life imprisonment.

An anti-terrorism court (ATC) had convicted Rashid Tailor and Zahid Abbas Zaidi and awarded them capital punishment. The same court had also acquitted two accused, Irfan and Kaleem, for want of evidence.

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Pakistan, Russia discuss defense cooperation in Moscow


Pakistan and Russia at the second round of Joint Military Consultative Committee in Moscow discussed defense cooperation.

The Pakistani delegation was led by Defense Secretary Ikram-ul-Haq while Russian side by Deputy Defense Minister Alexander V Fomin, Radio Pakistan reported on Tuesday.

The two sides exchanged views on regional security besides holding in-depth discussions on exploring and identifying areas of mutual cooperation including military training, joint exercises, intelligence cooperation and issues relating to defense industrial cooperation.

They agreed to ensure effective follow-up and implementation of the decisions taken during the meeting.

The two sides expressed the hope that the joint military consultative committee would play a vital role in enhancing defense cooperation.

A third round of the consultative committee will be held next year in Pakistan.

 

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Govt introducing number of initiatives under ‘Ehsaas’ program: Dr. Sania


Ehsaas,, Sania Nishtar, SAPM on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Sania Nishtar, Ehsaas Program

ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Sania Nishtar addressed the launching ceremony of the first women in global health chapter, South Asia, on Tuesday (today).

Nishtar said the government is introducing a number of initiatives under the “Ehsaas” program aimed at promoting gender mainstreaming and empowering women.

Read More: Ehsaas Program aims to benefit deserving people: Dr Sania

the government is committed to the welfare of women through ensuring the provision of high-quality health and education facilities to them for their socio-economic development.

She emphasized the need for introducing gender-sensitive workplace policies for attracting and retaining female health workforce in the labor market.

She said this is critical for achieving the government’s commitment to universal health coverage.

Earlier on August 10, the first meeting of Ehsaas Communications Committee discussed the communications strategic planning process of Ehsaas Programme and identified its communications needs and priorities.

Read More: Ehsaas programme a step towards creation of a welfare state: Dr. Sania

It also defined key respective areas of execution for different organizations involved in the implementation of Ehsaas Program under the umbrella of Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division (PASSD) a press release issued here Saturday said.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar chaired the meeting.

 

 

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Pakistan observes martyrdom anniversary of Rashid Minhas, Nishan-i-Haider


Rashid Minhas, Pakistan Air Force, PAF, Nishan-i-Haider

KARACHI: Today marks the 48th death anniversary of national hero, Pilot Officer Rashid Minhas Shaheed (Nishan-i-Haider).

This brave son of Pakistan was born on 17 February 1951 in Karachi. He belonged to famous Minhas clan of Rajputs.

His childhood fascination with aircrafts and aviation led him to what he truly was destined for. Minhas embraced his true passion after school and earned a degree in military history and aviation history from the University of Karachi.

He was commissioned as a pilot in the Pakistan Air Force in 1971.

Minhas was taxiing toward the runway when a Bengali instructor pilot, Flight Lieutenant Matiur Rahman, signaled him to stop and then climbed into the instructor’s seat. The jet took off and turned toward India.

Minhas radioed PAF Base Masroor with the message that he was being hijacked. The air controller requested that he resend his message, and he confirmed the hijacking. Later investigation showed that Rahman intended to defect to India to join his compatriots in the Bangladesh Liberation War, along with the jet trainer.

However, Minhas did the only thing within his control and forced that plane to crash just 32 miles from the Indian border, deliberately sacrificing his life for the honour of Pakistan.

Minhas spent his early childhood in Lahore. Later, the family shifted to Rawalpindi

Awarded with Pakistan’s top military honor Nishan-E- Haider, Minhas became the youngest man in history and the only member of the Pakistan Air Force to be honored with this award for his valiant feat.

Titled a national hero the Pakistan Air Force base at Kamra was renamed PAF Base, Minhas, often called Minhas-Kamra.

 

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‘Clean & Green Pakistan’: 2.5mln polythene bags confiscated in Islamabad


ISLAMABAD: Special teams constituted by the Ministry of Environment have conducted raids in different areas of the federal capital and confiscated 2.5 million polythene bags during the operation.

Under the Clean and Green Pakistan campaign, polythene bags have been completely banned in Islamabad since 14th August.

The special teams are visiting different areas of Islamabad on a daily basis and check shops and stores regarding polythene bags, Radio Pakistan reported.

The ban on the use of polythene bags in the federal capital entails a permanent halt of its manufacturing, trading and sale. The Ministry of Climate Change has introduced alternate cotton bags in the place of plastic bags.

The Sindh government has also announced plans to make the province a plastic bag-free by October 2019.

On the other hand, Chief Minister Punjab Usman Buzdar has also said that the approval to ban plastic bags in the province will be accorded in the next meeting of the provincial cabinet.

 

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The country needed General Qamar Bajwa, hence the extension: Shahbaz Gill


General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Qamar Bajwa, Shahbaz Gill

LAHORE: Spokesperson to the Chief Minister of Punjab, Shahbaz Gill yesterday (Monday) said that the Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa was given an extension because the nation and the country needed him, ARY News reported on Tuesday.

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Gill, appearing on the current affairs talk show of ARY’s Arshad Sharif, said that due to the precarious situation Pakistan faces due to heightened tensions with India in reference to Kashmir’s illegal annexation demanded that the current Army Chief of the armed forces stayed for another tenure.

Read More: India resorts to water aggression against Pakistan: Shahbaz Gill

Shahbaz Gill said that the Pakistan Armed Forces are ‘eyeball to eyeball’ at the Line of Control (LoC) over the Kashmir issue and it would’ve been a questionable decision if the Army Chief was removed and replaced when the country faced such odds.

Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced the extension in Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s tenure for next three years.

According to a notification issued from the Prime Minister Office, the premier had taken the decision “in view of the regional security environment”.

Read More: Gen Bajwa’s extension to give a message of national unity: FM Qureshi

His extension will start from the day of his retirement.

General Qamar Javed Bajwa replaced General Raheel Sharif as COAS on November 29, 2016.

 

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FBR starts crackdown against smuggled goods


ISLAMABAD: Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has decided to initiate a crackdown against smuggled goods in local markets.

To curb the smuggling of goods, the FBR has directed to constitute teams comprising officials from Directorate of Customs Intelligence and Investigation, and Inland Revenue

These teams will scrutinize export goods at shopping plazas and local markets.

As per the revenue board, the crackdown will begin from September 1. The notification of FBR further read that shopkeepers will be asked to show documents of export goods during the checking process.

In the case of documents’ unavailability, the shopkeeper will be given ample time to give their response on the matter.

Collective teams of members of Customs departments will supervise the process, as per FBR’s instructions.

 

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Gamers risk health in bid to be eSports millionaires


games, health, eSport

A record $33.5 million is up for grabs but professional eSports players like those competing in The International in Shanghai this week pay a physical price with deteriorating eyesight, digestive problems and wrist and hand damage.

At first, Evgenii “Blizzy” Ri looks perplexed at the notion: “It’s impossible, how can you get injuries when you play games?”

Then the 24-year-old from Kyrgyzstan discloses that a doctor urged him to take six months off to give his failing vision a badly needed rest.

Ri plays for Natus Vincere, or NAVI, and this week is competing in The International, a world championship said to have the biggest prize pool in the history of eSports.

Members of Team OG, winners of last year’s tournament, display the trophy during the opening of The International in Shanghai. Photo: AFP

NAVI and 17 other teams will play the multiplayer battle game Dota 2 in front of thousands of fans at a major indoor stadium while hundreds of thousands more will watch online.

If NAVI triumph on Sunday, Ri and his team-mates will become instant millionaires — but success could come at a price.

“I didn’t worry before but now I feel like my eyes are really… I can’t see so much,” said Ri, who practises up to 12 hours a day.

“Ten years I’ve been playing computers so they are a bit… I’ve just got bad vision.

Ri has been told to wear glasses but he does not find them comfortable and said that his deteriorating eyesight does not hinder his performance because the screen is up close.

eSports is starting to appreciate the need for physiotherapists and other staff specialising in physical and mental well-being. Photo: AFP

A doctor recommended simple eye exercises — moving them up and down, left and right — but he admits that he does not do them.

“Actually he also told me not to play the computer for six months to get back my vision, but I didn’t listen.

“I need to play.”

‘My body is so sore’ 

According to several players in Shanghai, the most common health complaint for pro gamers is Carpal Tunnel syndrome.

Not unique to gamers, it happens through repetitive hand and wrist motions and is characterised by numbness, burning and tingling of the thumb, index, middle and ring fingers.

In severe cases surgery is required.

Some gamers talked about wrist injuries so severe they had to quit and lower back problems related to sitting for too long, day after day.

“I used to play and I had some arm and wrist problems so now I coach instead of playing because I can’t take the strain,” said Kurtis “Aui_2000” Ling, of the Newbee team.

Another hazard of eSports, a fast-growing but little-understood sport, is the mental toll, particularly with life-changing sums of money on the table.

Gamers will battle for big money in front of thousands in Shanghai this week – but those at the top of eSports pay a physical price, including deteriorating eyesight, digestive problems and wrist and hand damage. Photo: AFP

With many players so young — most are in their 20s but there is a 17 year old at The International — some struggle in the hyper-competitive environment.

“I just sometimes feel that my body is so sore,” said Ryan “Raging Potato” Jay Qui of the Mineski team, who nevertheless says that his vision is still “20/20”.

“Most of the obstacles in this kind of environment is the mentality,” said the Filipino, adding that Mineski has a “psych adviser” who helps prop up the players.

Changing habits 

While the money at the top of eSports is soaring, in other respects gaming remains well behind many other professional sports.

Newbee coach Ling said that eSports is only now starting to appreciate the need for physiotherapists and other staff specialising in physical and mental well-being, though most teams have no such back-up. Cost is the major reason.

Roman Dvoryankin, general manager of Virtus.pro, said many gamers have scant appreciation of how important it is to eat well, exercise and sit properly when playing.

“All the pro teams are trying to educate the players to take breaks, do some exercise, stretch properly,” he said.

“It’s changing now, but what we face is that we get a player and realise that his digestive system is just not working properly and they have stomach problems,” added Dvoryankin.

“We do it, but it can be hard to change their daily habits.”

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Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson ties knot with longtime love


Dwayne Johnson, The Rock, wedding , wife

American actor and former WWE wrestler Dwayne Johnson married his longtime girlfriend Lauren Hashian in an intimate ceremony on Monday in Hawaii. 

Taking to Instagram, the 47-year-old actor shared pictures from the ceremony in which the couple can be seeing donning white outfits overlooking the ocean in Hawaii.

“We do. August 18th, 2019. Hawaii. Pōmaikaʻi (blessed),” the caption read.

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Johnson has two daughters, Jasmine, 3 and Tiana, 1 with his 34-year-old wife Hashian. He met the singer and producer in 2006 and the couple started dating in 2007.

He was previously married to Dany Garcia with whom he has an 18-year-old daughter, Simone with. The couple divorced in 2007.

On the professional front, his latest film Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is running in cinemas and doing pretty good at the box office.

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Met office forecast hot and humid weather in Karachi


Karachi, hot and humid

KARACHI: Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) has forecast hot and humid weather in Karachi on Tuesday (today), ARY News reported.

Maximum temperature in Karachi will remain between 32-34 degree Celsius and humidity between 60 to 80 percent today.

The wind direction in the city is westerly or southwesterly while the wind speed will remain upto 12 kilometers per hour, weather report said.

The met office said a seasonal low lies over north Balochistan and a westerly wave is present over extreme northern parts of the country.

The weather is expected to be hot and humid in most parts of the country. However, rain/wind-thunderstorm is expected at isolated places in Hazara division and Gilgit Baltistan, weather forecast said.

In past 24 hours weather remained hot and humid in most parts of country. However, rain and wind-thunderstorm occurred at isolated places in Malakand, Hazara, Kohat, Zhob divisions and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.

The highest maximum temperatures yesterday were recorded in Sibbi 42°Celsius and Sukkur and Rohri 41°Celsius, the met office said.

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River Sutlej may face flood situation in next 10 to 15 hours


River Sutlej may face flood situation at Ganda Singh point during next 10 to 15 hours.

Flood Forecasting Division of Met Department in Lahore said that Ganda Singh point is currently at the below low flood level, with the current water flow of over 35,000 cusecs, which is expected to be risen up to 1,40,000 cusecs to 1,50,000 cusecs during next 10-15 hours, Radio Pakistan reported.

Palku Nullah at Sialkot is in medium flood situation with the current water flow of 3,100 cusecs. In Punjab, all other rivers and nullahs are flowing normally.

River Sindh is currently in medium flood at Guddu with an in-flow of 415,666 cusecs and outflow of 375,466 cusecs, while in low flood at Sukkur with an inflow of 353,287 cusecs and outflow of 294,162.

Meanwhile, the water level reached 17.60 feet at Ganda Singh Wala in Sutlej River on Tuesday morning.

According to relevant authorities, the water level at Talwar post is 8.40 feet, Bakerke Post 624 feet and FMD post 9.50 feet.

According to Pakistan Commission for Indus Water, Indian dam Harike discharged 156,685 cusecs of water on Tuesday morning at 5 am.

 

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Pakistani celebrities demand justice for Rehan


rehan

Pakistani celebrities have taken to Twitter to stand against the brutal murder of 17-year-old Rehan, who was accused of stealing.

In the wake of the heartbreaking video of the horrendous killing of Rehan by the residents of Bahadurabad, Karachi, people are demanding justice for the boy.

According to reports, the incident took place on Saturday, when two alleged robbers tried entering a house in Bahadurabad. Rehan was caught by the security guard, however, the second suspected burglar managed to escape.

Related: Pakistani celebrities support Ali Zaidi’s ‘Clean Karachi’ campaign

Apart from abundant people, celebrities have also made sure to stand against the heinous crime, demanding prompt action against the culprits who took law in their hands.

Actress Mahira Khan writes, “Oh my God my heart. How could they do that?? How could they kill a boy? Torture him? How did not a single person stop it!!!! We have become so bloody desensitized we freaking record videos calmly while someone is beaten to death!!!”

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Cheekh protagonist, Saba Qamar requests Prime Minister Imran Khan to take action against the ferocious murder of the teenager.

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Activist, philanthropist and actress Armeena Khan writes, “They tortured him for two hours and did not stop even though there was a call to prayer (azaan) in the background. #RIP kid, your crime is that you were born poor.”

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She also puts up a photo of what was written on his shirt.

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Bilal Ashraf tweets, “Beating a teenager to death. What has this world come to. An example needs to be set so that this kind of a hideous crime is never committed again.”

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Hareem Farooq also asks for justice for the minor, “How is this even possible!! How can one become an animal within moments and take a human life while everyone else made videos?! And nobody bothered stopping?!? Inhumanity at its peak!!!!! We demand justice for rehan.”

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Host and actress Veena Malik finds it hard to fathom whatever happened with the kid, “Saw some of the pictures & its horrific to say the least.We r a peace loving country.Authorities should take a look in this case & make sure to set example. So that no such cases happen in the future. How can people be so heartless, it’s beyond my imagination.”

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The entire incident had been recorded on a mobile phone and was later surfaced on social media. The video shows Rehan tied to a grill, being beaten constantly in spite of crying not to hit him in the head. However, the police on Monday claimed to have rounded up three more accused involved in the murder of a teenage thief in Bahadurabad area of Karachi

What are your views on the story? Have your say in the comments’ section below.

 

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Controversial study links fluoridated water during pregnancy to lower IQ


fluoridated water, pregnancy, study

A study published Monday linked consumption of fluoridated tap water during pregnancy to lower IQ scores in infants, a finding at odds with decades of public health messaging extolling the mineral’s benefits in reducing cavities.

Several outside experts expressed concern over the research’s methodology and questioned its conclusions, though some found the results compelling enough to merit further investigation.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) named community water fluoridation one of ten great public health achievements of the 20th century because of its contribution to the steep decline in tooth cavities in the United States over several decades.

But although high levels of fluoride have been found to be toxic to rat brains, the concentrations seen in fluoridated tap water are deemed safe.

“We realized that there were major questions about the safety of fluoride, especially for pregnant women and young children,” Christine Till, an associate professor at Canada’s York University and the paper’s senior author told AFP, adding it was important to base decisions on evidence.

The study, published in the influential JAMA Pediatrics journal, analyzed data from 512 mother-child pairs across six Canadian cities, with about 40 percent living in communities supplied with fluoridated municipal water.

After controlling for other toxins in their analysis, they found that an increase in concentration of fluoride in pregnant mother’s urine of one milligram per liter was associated with a 4.5-point lower IQ score in boys — but not girls — at age three or four.

When estimating the daily maternal fluoride intake instead of fluoride in urine, they found a one milligram increase in intake was associated with a deficit of 3.7 IQ points for both boys and girls.

US and Canadian health authorities recommend capping fluoride concentration at 0.7 milligrams per liter (parts per million) to prevent fluorosis, overexposure to fluoride that leads to mild tooth discoloration.

But the actual levels that will be ingested will vary according to how much a person drinks.

According to the CDC, fluoridated water is supplied to nearly three in four Americans (more than 211 million people), while Health Canada estimates 39 percent of its population receives water from fluoridated supplies.

Dr Strangelove 

Anticipating controversy, the journal took the unusual step of issuing an editor’s note that said the decision to publish was “not easy” and that it had been subject to additional scrutiny.

Experiments in water fluoridation began in the early 20th century, and over time its opponents came to be seen as quacks: the 1964 satirical film “Dr Stranglove” features an unhinged general who believes fluoridation is a Communist conspiracy against the US.

Till said that she herself had not been convinced when a graduate student first approached her with the idea to investigate the effects on IQ, but has since come around.

“We’ve had many moments in history where we got new knowledge and changed decisions: look at thalidomide and look at recommendations for hormone replacement therapy,” which was once advised for all menopausal women, she said.

But experts in fields ranging from statistics to toxicology to neuroscience expressed reservations.

“The key words in the paper are ‘higher levels,’” said Oliver Jones, an environmental chemist at Australia’s RMIT University, who noted that fluoride intake appeared to be below one milligram per liter for most people in the study.

Precautionary principle 

He nevertheless called the work “interesting” and said it justified future research — a conclusion shared by David Bellinger, an epidemiologist at Harvard University who told AFP the results were “highly credible” but would need to be replicated before policy changes were in order.

But Stuart Ritchie, a psychologist at King’s College London, said it was “inconsistent” that the study’s first analysis only found a significant result for boys and not girls, while the second analysis found an overall effect with no sex differences, and deemed the findings “pretty weak.”

Critics of water fluoridation argue it is unnecessary because modern dental products like toothpaste contain fluoride, while 97 percent of European residents receive unfluoridated water without a major impact on their dental health.

Pamela Den Besten, a professor of orofacial science at UC San Francisco told AFP that while she remained in favor of fluoride for its dental benefits, it acts on teeth topically and concerns over its presence in drinking water should not be dismissed.

“My bias, given the findings of this and other studies, is to focus on the delivery of fluoride through strategies that do not require the fluoride to be ingested,” she said.

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Denmark bank to pay borrowers on taking house loans


Denmark bank, house loans, minus interest

COPENHAGEN: A bank in Denmark is paying home-buyers to take out mortgages, the world media reports said.

The country’s third-largest lender, Jyske Bank has announced this month a mortgage rate of -0.5 per cent.

The bank has launched the first negative interest rate mortgage in the world, a media report said. The bank will offer borrowers a 10-year deal at -0.5% — meaning borrowers will still make monthly payments, but the amount outstanding will be reduced each month by more than the borrower has paid.

Central banks easing interest rates for years around the world, distorting the traditional economics of lending and borrowing. The trend is most pronounced in Europe, where a composite home-loan rate across the euro area fell to 1.65 per cent in June.

Borrowing costs are at or near rock-bottom in many major world markets. The trend has boosted demand from home-buyers and spurred fierce competition among lenders for their business.

The negative interest offering by Jyske Bank is due to the fact that the can go into money markets and borrow from institutional investors at a negative rate and is in turn passing this deal along to customers, an official of the bank said.

Many major central banks have lowered interest rates in the last few years, hoping to stoke growth and stave off a downturn. Central banks in New Zealand and Thailand are among recent banks to announce cuts to interest rates.

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International launch set for Disney Plus streaming service


Disney, Disney Plus

The Walt Disney Company said on Monday its streaming television service will debut in November in the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the Netherlands.

Offering film and TV entertainment including its Star Wars and Marvel franchises as well as its ABC content and an extensive library acquired from 21st Century Fox, Disney+ hopes to be a major challenger to Netflix.

It will launch in Canada, Netherlands, and the US on November 12, and in Australia and New Zealand a week later, the company said, and is expected to expand to most major markets within the following two years.

The entertainment giant also announced deals for Disney+ to be available on Apple, Google, Microsoft, Roku and Sony internet-linked devices.

Chief executive Bob Iger said during a recent earnings call the company would take advantage of its control of Hulu to bundle an ad-supported version of the streaming television service with Disney+ and ESPN in the US for a monthly subscription price of $12.99.

Iger said Disney was “focused on leveraging Fox’s vast library of great titles… for example reimagining ‘Home Alone,’ ‘Night at the Museum,’ ‘Cheaper by the Dozen,’ and ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ for a new generation on Disney+.”

Former Fox superhero movie franchises including “X-Men,” “Fantastic 4” and “Deadpool” will now come under the Marvel umbrella, Iger said, adding that parent company Disney sees “great long-term value” in the titles.

The increasingly competitive TV streaming marketplace will soon feature HBO Max, Apple and NBCUniversal platforms as well as Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Disney+ will launch at a subscription price of $6.99 monthly in the US.

Disney’s streaming service will offer its films and TV shows, along with the library it acquired from Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox.

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New planet discovered in orbit of young Milky Way star


PARIS, France: A second planet has been discovered circling Beta Pictoris, a fledgling star in our own galaxy offering astronomers a rare glimpse of a planetary system in the making, according to a study published Monday.

“We talking about a giant planet about 3,000 times more massive than Earth, situated 2.7 times further from its star than the Earth is from the Sun,” said Anne-Marie Lagrange, an astronomer at France’s National Centre for Scientific Research and lead author of a study in Nature Astronomy.

The new planet, b Pictoris c, completes its orbit roughly every 1,200 days. Like its big sister b Pictoris b, discovered by Lagrange and her team in 2009, it is a gassy giant.

Visible with the naked eye, Beta Pictoris — with a mass nearly twice that of the Sun — is a newborn by comparison: only 23 million years old.

The Sun is more than 4.5 billion years old.

It is also relatively nearby, just over 63 light years, and surrounded by a disk of stellar dust.

This swirling halo of debris and gas was the first such configuration to be captured in image, making Beta Pictoris a celebrity star in the 1980s.

“To better understand the early stage of formation and evolution, this is probably the best planetary system we know of,” Lagrange told AFP.

Observations show that the two planets are still taking shape.

B Pictoris c was discovered by analysing 10-years worth of high-resolution data obtained with instruments at the La Silla Observatory in northern Chile, run by the intergovernmental European Southern Observatory.

In 2014, scientists said b Pictoris b spins at a breakneck speed of some 25 kilometres per second (90,000 kph or 56,000 miles per hour).

Located in the southern constellation of Pictor — “The Painter’s Easel” — Beta Pictoris is the second brightest star in its constellation.

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US tests medium-range cruise missile after exiting INF treaty


WASHINGTON: The US Defense Department on Monday announced the test of a medium-range ground-launched cruise missile, just weeks after tearing up the Cold War-era pact with Russia eliminating that class of nuclear-capable weapons.

The missile was launched on Sunday from the US Navy-controlled San Nicolas Island off the coast of Los Angeles, California.

“The test missile exited its ground mobile launcher and accurately impacted its target after more than 500 kilometers (310 miles) of flight,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

“Data collected and lessons learned from this test will inform the Department of Defense’s development of future intermediate-range capabilities.”

While the missile was described as “conventionally configured,” meaning not nuclear-equipped, the launch was a sign of Washington beefing up its nuclear war-fighting capabilities in the wake of the collapse of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty on August 2.

The INF had banned all land-based missiles, conventional and nuclear, that could travel between 500 and 5,500 kilometers (310 and 3,400 miles), in an effort to abolish a class of nuclear arms being deployed by the United States and the then-Soviet Union that left Europe the most threatened.

The missile tested on Sunday was a version of the nuclear-capable Tomahawk cruise missile. The ground-launched version of the Tomahawk was removed from service after the INF was ratified.

New arms race worries

Many fear the end of the INF, which Washington accused Moscow of having violated in recent years, will lead to a new and dangerous nuclear arms race.

Early this month Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said the US, no longer bound by the INF, had already begun work to develop “mobile, conventional, ground-launched cruise and ballistic missile systems.”

“Now that we have withdrawn, the Department of Defense will fully pursue the development of these ground-launched conventional missiles as a prudent response to Russia’s actions,” Esper said.

But he also stressed the US was not embarking on a new arms race.

“The traditional sense of an arms race has been in a nuclear context,” he said.

“Right now, we don’t have plans to build nuclear-tipped INF-range weapons. It’s the Russians who have developed non-compliant likely, possibly nuclear-tipped weapons,” he said.

He also said that the Pentagon would like to deploy new intermediate-range missiles in Asia, a move that would likely anger China, which was not party to the INF.

“We would like to deploy a capability sooner rather than later,” he said.

Speaking in France before news of the US test launch broke, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that it was the United States and not Russia that withdrew “unilaterally” from the INF.

He said Russia does not intend to deploy intermediate- and shorter-range missiles where the US has no similar weapons.

“I have already said about that, and would like to say once again here, in France, we are unilaterally undertaking obligations. If the United States produces such offensive systems, we will also do so,” Putin said at a press conference before meetings with French leader Emmanuel Macron.

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Liberian opposition MP attacked on campaign trail


MONROVIA: An opposition lawmaker in Liberia on Monday accused supporters of President George Weah of trying to assassinate her while she was campaigning for an election re-run.

Tellia Urey, the candidate for an opposition bloc for an upcoming election re-run in the capital Monrovia, told journalists her vehicle was also badly damaged by members of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) party.

“I was in a meeting with my partisans on Saturday when supporters of the CDC started to throw stones at the building, breaking glasses. I was sent to a room without window for my security.

“We called the police, they came 20 minutes later but to stand and look… We were indoors for one and a half hours. People were getting injured. There was no other option but to try and get me out,” she said.

When they emerged, they found Urey’s car badly damaged and her driver injured. One man “came in with a knife trying to get me,” she added.

“Our campaign for the re-run in District 15 will not be possible this time because we cannot put our partisans at risk. I want to beg the international community to help us save the lives of our people,” Urey said.

By-elections were held on July 29 to fill two seats in the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The National Election Commission announced a re-run of voting at six polling stations in the district after a dispute hearing in which Urey claimed electoral fraud.

The Collaborating Political Parties coalition to which Urey belongs slammed the attack as “another  bloody day in our country’s history.

“Unfortunately, our government under the leadership of George Weah is the promoter of violence against our citizens whose only crime is to exercise their political franchise, the same process from which George Weah and his political followers have benefited.”

Weah said the violence was perpetrated by both the CDC and the CPP and launched an investigation.

“Electoral violence in all its forms will not be tolerated, and individuals who disrupt the peace will face the full weight of the law,” a statement from the presidential office said.

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Cop becomes ‘hero’ after saving infant that stopped breathing


A video of a female cop from Danville VA police department went viral that showed the heroic move of the policewoman for rescuing a two-week-old baby from choking.

The video was posted by the Danville VA police department on its Twitter account that showed officer Melissa Carey ran towards the baby for rescue when the infant chokes and stop breathing.

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According to tweet, the police officer was casually having lunch at a local restaurant when she saw a waitress running for help after a two-week-old baby stopped breathing. However, Carey just came in and began the first aid to the infant which saved a precious life.

Carey’s video has stormed the internet and the police officer was termed as ‘hero’. The mother stated, “If it was not for Off. Carey, my baby would not be here.”

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Wall Street rallies as investors cheer global stimulus efforts


NEW YORK: U.S. stocks climbed on Monday as reports of stimulus efforts in China and Germany calmed fears of a severe downturn in the global economy that were stoked last week as bond yields fell.

The benchmark S&P 500 was on track to recover most of its losses following Wednesday’s brief inversion of the yield curve between 2-year and 10-year Treasuries, commonly viewed as an indicator of a recession within the next two years. After falling nearly 3% on Wednesday, the S&P 500 has risen for the last three sessions.

China’s central bank unveiled a key interest rate reform on Saturday to help steer borrowing costs lower for companies. On Sunday, German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz suggested that Berlin could make available up to 50 billion euros ($55 billion) of extra spending.

Read More:Wall Street rally loses steam as industrials drag

 “Those are positive stories, and it’s fostered a risk-on environment that has persisted throughout the day,” said Michael O’Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading in Greenwich, Connecticut. “Investors are glad to see that countries are recognizing the risks out there.”

Shares of Apple Inc (AAPL.O) provided the biggest boost to the three main Wall Street indexes. President Donald Trump said on Sunday that he had spoken with Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook, who “made a good case” that tariffs could hurt Apple.

Technology shares also rose as Washington extended a reprieve given to Huawei Technologies [HWT.UL] that permits the Chinese firm to buy supplies from U.S. companies so it can service existing customers.

The S&P 500 technology index rose 1.5%, while the Philadelphia semiconductor index .SOX rose 1.8%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 266.72 points, or 1.03%, to 26,152.73, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 36.54 points, or 1.26%, to 2,925.22 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 109.85 points, or 1.39%, to 8,005.84.

All of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher. Energy shares .SPNY, which rose 2.3% as oil prices advanced, led S&P sectors in percentage gains. Reflecting Monday’s risk-on sentiment, the defensive real estate .SPLRCR and utilities .SPLRCU sectors posted the smallest percentage gains.

Given concerns about economic growth, investors have looked closely for cues from the Federal Reserve on monetary policy. In July, the U.S. central bank cut interest rates for the first time in more than a decade.

Wednesday’s release of minutes from the Fed’s July policy meeting, as well as Chair Jerome Powell’s speech at the Jackson Hole symposium on Friday, might provide indications on whether the central bank will cut rates further, investors said.

Shares of Estee Lauder Cos Inc (EL.N) jumped 12.4% to a record high as the beauty company forecast full-year revenue and profit above estimates, bolstered by booming demand for its premium skincare products in the Asia-Pacific region.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.91-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.71-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 53 new 52-week highs and one new low; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 74 new highs and 52 new lows.

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Shafqat Mehmood terms extension in Gen Bajwa’s service need of hour


Shafqat Mehmood

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Education Shafqat Mehmood on Monday said that extension in the service of Chief of Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa for three years was need of the hour, ARY News reported.

Speaking in ARY News program ‘Powerplay’, the education minister said that Prime Minister Imran Khan took the decision keeping in view the regional peace situation.



“Current regional situation and external challenges were the main reasons for extending the Army Chief’s tenure,” he added.

The minister said the Army Chief had played a vital role in the Madrassa reforms, besides restoring the peace in the country after breaking the back of terrorists.

Commenting on Kashmir issue, he said both the civilian and military leadership were on the same page first time in the country’s history and after 50 years the United Nations Security Council had discussed the issue and expressed its concern over Indian atrocities in Occupied Kashmir.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced the extension in Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s tenure for the next three years.

According to a notification issued from the Prime Minister Office, the premier has taken the decision “in view of the regional security environment”.

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General Electric adds to defense against charges of bogus accounting


NEW YORK: General Electric Co intensified its defense of its accounting practices on Monday after investors questioned it about an unusual research report alleging GE failed to put aside money to cover $29 billion in potential insurance losses and improperly counted profit from subsidiary Baker Hughes.

The Boston-based conglomerate’s new comments follow the release on Thursday of a 175-page research report http://www.gefraud.com that alleged there was fraud in GE’s accounting, renewing concern about the company’s financial position. GE has suffered a series of financial losses and taken more than $40 billion in charges and write-offs in recent years.

GE shocked investors in 2017 by saying it would set aside $15 billion for long-term care insurance payouts, one of the largest such amounts ever. A Reuters article in March found that GE’s reserves were then in line with other insurers, but some experts said GE would need to set aside $12 billion more because its estimates relied on optimistic assumptions.

GE’s shares fell as much as 15% after financial investigators Harry Markopolos and John McPherson published the report on Thursday, which said GE needed to set aside $29 billion for insurance reserves. The shares recouped much of the decline on Friday. On Monday, GE shares were down 1.6% at $8.64 in afternoon trading.

Also on Monday, Steve Winoker, GE’s investor relations chief, said in an email that the amount of GE’s long-term care payouts would “play out over decades” and that GE uses “rigorous testing,” “sound actuarial analysis” and follows “regulatory and accounting” rules to estimate future payouts.

Addressing the Baker Hughes questions, Winoker said accounting rules require GE to include the subsidiary’s results in its earnings reports because it is the majority shareholder.

GE had disclosed in 2018 that its accounting is being investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice.

Markopolos, best known for raising early alarms about Bernard Madoff, who was arrested in 2008 for running a Ponzi scheme, disclosed in the report that he stood to share in profits from a hedge fund that sold GE shares short before the report came out, a bet that the share price would fall.

GE said it offered the renewed defense on Monday in response to questions from investors about Markopolos’ report, but did not say how many questions it received or characterize them.

“Given your follow-up questions, I wanted to lay out our perspective in a bit greater detail,” Winoker wrote in the email to investors.

Winoker was a UBS analyst covering GE before being named to the current job in January.

In defending itself last week, GE Chief Executive Officer Larry Culp said Markopolos’ report was “market manipulation – pure and simple” – a reference to his potential to profit from short-selling timed to the report. Reuters reported last week that short sales of GE shares rose by about $995 million in the month before Markopolos’ report came out, according to S3 Partners, a New York financial analytics firm.

Culp and Leslie Seidman, chair of GE’s audit committee, noted Markopolos had not consulted with GE before publishing the report. GE said Culp, Seidman and other GE directors and executives bought shares after the report came out last week.

GE on Monday defended the assumptions it has used to calculate the $15 billion in new insurance reserves it pledged in 2017 to cover policies that pay for long-term assisted living and nursing home care for policy holders.

These policies have pushed some insurers into financial trouble, and even bankruptcy, because the costs have turned out to be much higher than were assumed when the policies were written in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

GE is now only a reinsurer of such coverage and says it has not written new long-term care policies since 2006.

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Firdous Ashiq Awan slams JUI-F chief over politicising Kashmir issue


SAPM, Firdous Ashiq Awan, SAPM Awan, Kashmir, Occupied Kashmir

ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting, Firdous Ashiq Awan, on Monday strongly criticised Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman over politicising Kashmir issue, saying that he should also provide his performance as former chairman of Kashmir Committee for many years, ARY News reported.

Firdous Ashiq Awan, in the series of tweets, slammed the cleric that Maulana Fazl had enjoyed protocol and perks as the chairman of Kashmir Committee for many years and he should present details of efforts for the independence of Kashmiris during his tenure.

“The curfew, which had been imposed on Kashmiris by [Indian prime minister] Narendra Modi, seems made an impact on your [Maulana Fazl’s] language. Why is the Maulana talking against the national interests instead of criticising Modi [illegal steps in occupied Jammu and Kashmir].”

She added that Prime Minister has emerged as the true representative of Kashmiris around the world as he had set an example for all to highlight the Kashmir issue. Awan clarified that Pakistan has grabbed diplomatic victory in UN Security Council session and defeated the Indian diplomacy.

The special assistant advised JUI-F supremo to avoid revengeful behaviour over Kashmir cause due to his political deprivations. She said that Kashmir is the joint cause and the nation is standing united with the government.

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A step forward

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