Watson ton takes Chennai Super Kings to third IPL title


IPL

Shane Watson smashed an unbeaten 117 as Chennai Super Kings thrashed Sunrisers Hyderabad to win their third Indian Premier League title in a spectacular return from a two-year corruption ban.

The 36-year-old Australian hit eight sixes and 11 fours in a stunning 57 ball innings as Chennai took just 18.3 overs to overcome Hyderabad’s 178-6 off 20 overs.

Chennai finished on 181-2 to crush their opponents by eight wickets. They have now equalled the Mumbai Indians in winning the world’s wealthiest cricket tournament for the third time since it started in 2008.

Ambati Rayudu was also unbeaten at the end on 16 in Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium which was packed with more than 33,000 people.

Rayudu hit a four to complete victory but he led tributes to Watson.

“His experience saw us through. He is a world class player and when he is there anything can happen,” Rayudu said.

Read More: PSL fielding standards beat all major T20 cricket leagues including IPL

Chennai, IPL winners in 2010 and 2011, were banned for two seasons in 2015 along with Rajasthan Royals after team officials were found guilty of involvement in illegal gambling.

Super Kings captain M S Dhoni won the toss and put Hyderabad into bat. Their New Zealand captain Kane Williamson hit a top-score 47 as Sunrisers posted 178-6.

The 27-year-old Williamson, a last minute replacement for scandal-tainted David Warner as captain, has been an impressive leader, amassing 735 runs including eight half centuries in 17 matches.

He was supported by Yusuf Pathan who hit an unbeaten 45 off 25 balls, including four fours and two sixes. Carlos Brathwaite also hit an 11-ball 21 to help Hyderabad add 52 runs in the last five overs.

But after preventing Watson from scoring for his first 10 balls and taking South African opener Faf du Plessis for 10 in the third over, the Hyderabad bowlers were put to the sword.

Watson and Suresh Raina put on a swashbuckling 117-run second-wicket stand with Raina hitting 32.

Afghanistan teen sensation Rashid Khan returned figures of 0-24 for Hyderabad but Watson hit the other bowlers to every corner of the stadium.

The big-hitting Aussie allrounder plundered 27 runs off one Sandeep Sharma over.

Watson took a single off Khan to bring up his hundred in 51 balls and then acknowledged a standing ovation from the Chennai dugout and the crowd with his team already in sight of their IPL triumph.

The winners of the final were guaranteed a minimum $4 million in prize money.

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Shootout leaves two policemen, two terrorists dead in Quetta


Quetta

QUETTA: A shootout at Sirki Road in Quetta left two police officers martyred and two militants dead on Sunday evening.

Two pedestrians also got injured in the attack, who were right away rushed to the Civil Hospital Quetta for medical treatment.

Falcon Force retaliated and killed two assailants after they opened fire on traffic police officials, while one managed to flee in injured condition, said DIG Abdul Razzaq.

“The officers on patrol nearby heard the gunshots and rushed to the scene. They engaged the attackers in firing and killed them on the spot,” he said.

Read More: Five policemen martyred in series of blasts in Quetta

Police said an investigation was launched after collecting the evidences from the crime scene.

The Balochistan government has announced a reward of Rs1 million for any information on the militants. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Last week, at least five suicide bombers were killed as Frontier Corps’ personnel responded to a terrorist attack on a FC Madadgar Centre in Quetta.

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Jailed Hurriyat leader Shabir Shah’s daughter tops CBSE exams in occupied Kashmir


Sama Shah

“My father was a source of inspiration for me and my mother a source of strength, so that I was able to focus on my study. Every time this came into my mind that when my father has been fighting for 50 years (out of that 31 years he has spent in jail only) and he’s still strong and he’s still fighting then why will I not study and why not take it as a positive step to make them feel proud,” said Sama, daughter of jailed Hurriyat leader Shabir Shah, who topped Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) Examination, India.

In occupied Kashmir, Sama Shabbir Shah of Delhi Public School (DPS) Athwajan, has topped the CBSE-2018 12th class securing 97.8 percent marks, 489 out of 500.

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The DPS, Athwajan, has topped among all the CSBE affiliated schools of the territory. The school has got 99.5 percent overall results in the exams, said Pro-Vice Chairman of DPS, Srinagar, Vijay Dhar.

Shabbir Shah has been incarcerated in Tihar jail, New Delhi, for the last one year.

Sama has achieved this feat in a situation which is proving testing for her and other family members after her father was arrested in an old and fabricated case in 2017.

Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti wrote on her social media account, “Congratulations to Sama Shabir Shah for securing 97.8% marks in the class 12th class examination. Her hard work & determination has helped her overcome all odds & she is truly an inspiration for the youth of our state.”

File photo of Shabir Shah.

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Baby ‘Miracle’ born on rescue ship as Italy arrivals surge


CATANIA, ITALY: A baby boy named Miracle has been born on board a humanitarian ship – a bright spot as the tide of migrants risking sea crossings from Libya to Italy has increased as the weather has improved.

There have been more than 1,800 migrants rescued by humanitarian ships, and Italy’s navy and coastguard vessels over the past three days, and one body was recovered, an Italian coastguard official said.

Arrivals from Libya, a staging post for people smugglers, have plummeted 85 percent this year from last as Italy provided support to the Libyan coastguard and to municipalities along the coast to stop migrant boats.

But good weather or other factors seem to have reversed that trend, for now.

“It’s really hard to know what’s happening inside Libya, or why the Libyan coastguard has not been so active in these last few days,” said Lauren King, a spokeswoman from the Aquarius, the ship baby Miracle was born aboard.

The Aquarius is a rescue ship run by SOS Mediterranee and Doctors without Borders (MSF), which brought ashore 70 migrants in Catania, Sicily, on Sunday. The Aquarius is setting off again later in the day for the waters off the coast of Libya.

“Given the weather conditions … It’s better we’re out there and ready,” she said.

On Saturday, the leader of the far-right League party, which appears poised to form a coalition government with the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, said that the surge in arrivals meant someone was trying to undermine the would-be administration.

“The usual powers that be are threatening us with the migrant boats,” Matteo Salvini Tweeted.

The League has promised to take a hard line on irregular immigration and deport hundreds of thousands of migrants if the government receives the president’s endorsement and wins parliament’s backing.

Migrants rescued by the Aquarius spoke of horrific conditions and violence in Libya, including the mother of the baby born on Saturday.

“Both the mother and baby are doing very well,” Amoin Soulemane, the midwife on the Aquarius, said in a statement. Miracle, weighing 2.8 kg, was the sixth baby born on the rescue ship, but the first this year, King said.

When Miracle was brought onto deck by the midwife, the migrants on board celebrated his birth by singing and dancing — a far cry from the conditions they said they had came from in Libya.

The mother, whose name was not given, told MSF she had been “held captive, beaten, given very little food and extorted for money for release” during the year she was in Libya.

She was eventually able to escape from her captors, and on Thursday she set out to sea on a rubber boat with 68 others.

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Seven injured in massive blaze at German theme park


german

FRANKFURT: Seven firefighters were injured in efforts to put out a massive blaze at Germany’s largest amusement park, police said on Sunday, as it reopened to visitors despite extensive damage to some areas.

The fire at Europa-Park started early on Saturday evening in a storage facility before engulfing the Pirates of Batavia boat ride, completely destroying the attraction.

It took some 250 firefighters until the next morning to extinguish the inferno, which sent huge columns of black smoke into the air.

Dramatic images of the raging fire were widely captured by visitors to the theme park in Rust, southwestern Germany and shared on social media.

Some 25,000 people had to be evacuated from the park, but none suffered any injuries.

The local Offenburg police said in a statement that the blaze had left seven firefighters “lightly injured”, without giving details.

All of them were able to leave hospital after receiving medical attention.

Europa-park opened its doors as normal on Sunday, although large sections of the Dutch and Scandinavian-themed areas remain closed because of fire damage.

Europa-park’s chief executive Michael Mack tweeted his thanks for the rescue services, saying Saturday had been “a sad day” for the park.

The cause of the fire is still unknown. Police said some firefighters remained at the scene to carry out damping down operations and secure the area to allow experts to assess the damage.

Founded in 1975, Europa-Park is Europe’s second-most popular amusement park after Disneyland, attracting some 5.7 million visitors last year.

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80% construction work of Raiwind Railway Station completed: Saad


Raiwind

LAHORE: Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique on Sunday said 80 percent construction work of the Raiwind Railway Station has been completed.

He said this while talking to newsmen in Lahore after inspecting the under-construction work of Raiwind Railway Station in the outskirts of the city.

The minister said the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) will win next general elections on the basis of its performance.

To a question, Saad Rafique said everyone should have freedom to speak in a democratic country.

Later, talking to media in Okara, the minister of railways said that he always promoted merit in the Pakistan Railways and never took dictation.

Khawaja Saad Rafique said PML-N will contest the general elections on its symbol (Lion) and seat adjustment with other parties was possible.

Read More: Pakistan Railways decides to install automatic elevators at 14 stations

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26 Syria govt troops, 9 Russia fighters killed in IS attack: monitor


Russia

DAMASCUS: At least 26 Syrian regime forces and nine Russian fighters were killed in an Islamic State group attack earlier this week in Syria’s eastern desert, a monitor said Sunday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the militants had targeted a group of Syrian and allied Russian fighters near the town of Mayadeen in Deir Ezzor province on Wednesday.

“There were 35 pro-government forces killed, including at least nine Russians. Some of those Russian nationals were government troops, but not all of them,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.

The remaining 26 were all Syrian forces, he told AFP.

The Russian military is backing Syria’s army with air strikes and troops, but there are also widespread reports of private Russian mercenaries on the ground.

The defence ministry in Moscow said Sunday four Russian servicemen had been killed in clashes with militants in Deir Ezzor.

It did not give a date or precise location, but the Observatory said it was the same incident as the IS attack near Mayadeen.

Two of the servicemen were “military advisors commanding the Syrian artillery” and were killed on the spot, the defence ministry said.

It said two more Russian soldiers died later in a Russian military hospital following the fighting. Three other troops were wounded.

The ministry said the fighting lasted around an hour and left 43 militants dead.

Read More: Huge blasts at central Syria military airbase

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England captain Root terms defeat “disappointing”


Root

LONDON: England captain Joe Root on Sunday described the nine wicket defeat against Pakistan as “disappointing” and hoped his team will overcome the loss in the second Test at Leeds staring on Friday.

Pakistan cleaned up England’s four wickets in the space of just 18 balls for the addition of just seven runs and then wiped off the 64 needed for victory to take a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.

Pakistan outplayed their more formidable and experienced opponents as they bowled them out for 184 and 243 with paceman Mohammad Abbas taking eight wickets to deservedly win the man of the match award.

Mohamad Amir also finished with 4-36 as Pakistan’s pacers took 18 of the 20 wickets — the first time since January 2004 against New Zealand at Wellington.

Read More: Mohammad Abbas leads Pakistan boys to victory at Lord’s

Root admitted England did not bat well.

“It’s very disappointing,” said Root who made four and 68.  “We have been outperformed in all three departments, we have not batted well enough, first innings in particular. We have shown a bit of character in the second innings with the bat but we have to be better.

“There have been a number of collapses recently and we have to find a way as a group. That’s a very individual thing but ultimately it’s about working out there together, whether it’s absorbing a bit of pressure on occasions or being more patient.”

Root said patience will be the key with the team that has now lost six of their last eight Tests.

“We have to be more patient and take our opportunities when we get them. Over a longer period of time that’s going to pay dividends for us. We can do that next week and we must take that chance.

“We got it wrong, we know that. We need to be better in these conditions. These conditions suit us as well which is why it’s so disappointing. Look at that dressing room, it’s a talented team and there are guys in there who will do great things for England.

“Our next opportunity to do that is at Headingley. We’ve got to turn things around, we’ve got to be clever about how we do things. We’ve got to be smarter in certain situations. If we get that right you’ve seen the performances the guys can do, especially at home. It is disappointing.

Root admitted his team has not learnt quickly.

“We can’t ignore this. We have to learn from it quickly. But also we can’t put too much pressure on ourselves to change things. A lot of the things that we do are very good. We just have to do them more often.”

Root admitted his batsmen committed mistakes.

“We are ambitious, we want to win but sometimes we make poor decisions. We’ve got to be smarter with that. Guys have got to find a way of scoring runs. Ultimately it’s about the number of runs you score, not how long it takes you and maybe on occasion we need to absorb a bit more pressure. We’ve seen in the past guys like Ben Stokes come in at 40/4 and take a game away from a side. It’s a fine margin. You have to recognise the right times to attack.”

Root disagreed his team did not have good preparations.

“We had some really good practice days here and the majority of the guys had two championship games at least going in to this game. In that respect you’d like to think the guys had enough under their belt. You go into most series with two games so it’s an easy excuse to hide behind. The reality is we weren’t good enough this week and we were outperformed. It’s a bitter pill to swallow at home but that’s where we are at.”

On the spot-fixing allegations in India Root said: “I am aware that there is a documentary and it is outrageous that our players have been accused. All the players have the full backing of the ECB. It’s not anything for the guys to worry about, we have to focus on winning at Headingley. It’s an outrageous accusation and I’m sure that all the right channels will be taken by the ECB and those who need to worry about it.”

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Bilawal terms GB package as insulting, vows to restore legislation powers


bilawal

KARACHI: Giving powers of legislation to the bureaucracy in Islamabad and brazenly denying the people their rights is an affront to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan that will have far reaching consequences for political stability.

This has been stated by Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in a statement after Prime Minister Khaqan Abbasi announced enforcement of the Gilgit-Baltistan reforms package.

Referring to the 31st constitutional amendment, he said the parliament just passed a amendment bill taking away powers of the president on tribal areas to empower its people. “Just the same time the federal government has ambushed the people of GB by taking away their powers and vesting it to the prime minister,” he said.

According to the reforms package, the prime minister will not only make laws for GB but can also override any law passed by the Legislative Assembly, he said asking if there could be anything more provocative.

“The so called reforms package is a grave provocation and warned against the consequences of bulldozing it without taking the people and the GB Assembly into confidence,” he said.

Bilawal assured the people of GB that PPP will ensure that the right to legislate is vested in the GB Legislative Assembly, and the parliament and not the prime minister should make legislation as is the case for all provinces.

He said the PPP will not allow the bureaucracy or any individual to legislate for GB, not even the prime minister of Pakistan. “If the president can no longer legislate for the tribal areas why should the Prime minister legislate for the people of GB,” he asked.

Bilawal also questioned sweeping restrictions on the GB Assembly on issues of discussion calling it a grave violation of the fundamental rights of the people.

All coercive laws have been extended to GB but human rights-related laws are not, he said adding, such degrading treatment of people of GB must come to an end before it is too late.

Bilawal also questioned the definition of citizenship saying that it opened the door for exploitation of the local people by outsiders and called for its review.

Furthermore, the provision that only retired judges of the high courts and Supreme Court are eligible to become Chief Judge of the Supreme Appellate Court of GB means that no citizen of GB can ever become the Chief Judge, he said.

Bilawal also demanded release of rights activists and a halt to the taking over of lands by the state.

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Spain rescues over 400 migrants in Mediterranean


migrants

MADRID: Spain’s maritime rescue service said Sunday it had rescued 408 migrants who were attempting the perilous crossing of the Mediterranean Sea from north Africa this weekend.

The service said its rescue boats intercepted 115 migrants travelling in five small boats in the Strait of Gibraltar on Sunday, a day after it pulled 293 migrants from nine vessels.

The maritime service is tracking three other boats carrying “a significant number of migrants” in the Alboran Sea east of the Strait of Gibraltar, a maritime rescue service spokesman told AFP.

Spain is the third busiest gateway for migrants arriving in Europe, still far behind Italy but catching up fast with Greece.

Many Africans undertaking the long route to Europe are choosing to avoid crossing danger-ridden Libya to get to Italy along the so-called central Mediterranean route, choosing instead to get there via Morocco and Spain.

According to the International Organization for Migration, more than 22,400 people arrived in Spain by sea last year, nearly triple the number for 2016. Some 223 people died along the way.

Read More: Over 100 migrants escape from Libya trafficking camp

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South Korea says North Korea committed to Trump summit and ‘complete’ denuclearization


North Korea

SEOUL: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his commitment to “complete” denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and to a planned meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Sunday.

In Washington, U.S. President Donald Trump signaled that preparations for a June 12 summit with Kim were going ahead, despite having called the meeting off last week.

Moon and Kim agreed at a surprise meeting on Saturday that the possible North Korea-U.S. summit must be held, Moon told a news conference in Seoul.

“Chairman Kim and I have agreed that the June 12 summit should be held successfully, and that our quest for the Korean peninsula’s denuclearization and a perpetual peace regime should not be halted,” Moon said.

The meeting was the latest dramatic turn in a week of diplomatic ups and downs surrounding the prospects for an unprecedented summit between the United States and North Korea, and the strongest sign yet that the two Korean leaders are trying to keep the on-again off-again meeting on track.

A statement from North Korea’s state news agency KCNA said Kim expressed “his fixed will” on the possibility of meeting Trump as previously planned.

Moon, who returned to Seoul on Thursday morning after meeting Trump in Washington in a bid to keep the high-stakes U.S.-North Korea summit on track, said he delivered a message of Trump’s “firm resolve” to end the hostile relationship with North Korea and pursue bilateral economic cooperation.

Trump said in a letter to Kim on Thursday he was cancelling the planned Singapore summit, citing North Korea’s “open hostility”.

However, Trump said on Saturday he was still looking at a June 12 date for a summit in Singapore and that talks were progressing very well.

“We’re doing very well in terms of the summit with North Korea,” Trump said at the White House. “It’s moving along very nicely. So we’re looking at June 12th in Singapore. That hasn’t changed. So, we’ll see what happens.”

A White House team will leave as scheduled for Singapore this weekend to prepare for the possible summit, a White House spokeswoman said on Saturday.

Read More: North and South Korea’s leaders meet inside DMZ

DENUCLEARIZATION DIFFERENCES

China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement sent to Reuters on Sunday it “firmly” hoped the summit could happen as scheduled and be successful and reiterated a call for both sides to be patient and show goodwill.

“We have always believed that direct contacts and dialogue between the leaders of North Korea and the United States are crucial to resolving the peninsula nuclear issue,” it said.

While maintaining that Kim is committed to denuclearization, Moon acknowledged Pyongyang and Washington may have differing expectations of what that means and he urged both sides to hold working-level talks to resolve their differences.

“Even though they share the same resolve, there need to be discussions regarding the roadmap for how to make it happen, and that process could be tough,” he said, declining to define “complete denuclearization”.

The Trump administration has demanded that North Korea completely and irreversibly shut its nuclear weapons program. Kim and Trump’s initial decision to meet followed months of war threats and insults between the leaders over the program.

American officials are skeptical that Kim will ever fully abandon his nuclear arsenal, and Moon said North Korea is not yet convinced it can trust security guarantees from the United States.

“However, during the U.S.-South Korea summit, President Trump clearly emphasized that we may see not only the end of hostile relations but also economic cooperation if North Korea denuclearize,” Moon said. “I urge North Korea and the U.S. to confirm each other’s will by sharing their problems with each other and communicating directly.”

A senior South Korean official said later the two Koreas were discussing a possible non-aggression pledge and the start of peace treaty talks as a way of addressing Pyongyang’s security concerns ahead of U.S.-North Korean negotiations.

‘BETTER THAN A PHONE CALL’

Moon said he held Saturday’s impromptu summit – the second between the two sides in a month – after Kim asked for a meeting “without any formality”.

“A meeting was held because officials of both countries thought that meeting face-to-face would be better than a phone call,” Moon said, noting that the summit was in line with previous agreements for the two leaders to meet more often.

Their talks at the Panmunjom border village, which South Korean officials said lasted two hours, came after their April 27 meeting, the first inter-Korean summit in more than a decade that was also held at the same venue. At that meeting, they declared they would work toward a nuclear-free Korean peninsula and a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War.

The KCNA statement said Kim and Moon agreed to hold high-level talks between their two nations on June 1, and to take steps to quickly implement their efforts to denuclearize the peninsula. KCNA said the leaders also agreed to meet frequently.

The agency said the two leaders had reached a “satisfactory consensus” and expressed “their stand to make joint efforts for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula”.

Video and a photo released by South Korea’s presidential Blue House on Saturday showed Kim hugging Moon and kissing him on the cheek three times as he saw Moon off after their meeting at Tongilgak, the North’s building in the truce village, which lies in the Demilitarized Zone – the 4-km (2.5-mile) wide buffer that runs along the heavily armed military border.

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Starbucks to educate staff against racial bias, set example


NEW YORK: Can you teach employees not to be racist? Coffee giant Starbucks will shut stores around the United States on Tuesday to conduct an unprecedented training exercise at its more than 8,000 American outlets.

The initiative, which is expected to last four hours and reach 175,000 employees, was announced by Starbucks management on April 17, as it sought to contain outrage over the arrest of two young black men at one of its cafes in Philadelphia.

The incident five days earlier sparked outrage, protests and anguished soul-searching about America’s lingering problems of discrimination and racial tensions that have deteriorated under the presidency of Donald Trump.

After the two black men arrived at the Starbucks one of them asked to use the bathroom but was told it was for paying customers only. The pair then sat down to wait for a third person before ordering drinks.

The manager called police.

A video that went viral showed uniformed officers questioning then handcuffing the two men, who put up no resistance, while a white client repeatedly asks an officer, “What’d they do? What’d they do?”

“Whether in stores, on trains, implicit or explicit bias, you see it all the time,” says James Bell, 47, a counsellor in a mostly black school in Brooklyn and a Starbucks customer.

“As a black male, you have workers in the stores excessively asking, ‘Do you need anything, may I help you?’” he tells AFP. “You see a young black man and you immediately think crime.”

Bell points to other recent examples of discrimination broadcast on social networks, such a student calling the police in May when a black graduate student at Yale University fell asleep in a common room.

‘First step’

“May 29 isn’t a solution, it’s a first step,” says the company on its website.

“This first training will focus on understanding racial bias and the history of public accommodations in the United States, with future trainings addressing all aspects of bias and experiences,” it added.

So what will employees actually be taught on Tuesday? Starbucks has refused to grant media access to the training sessions, but has released a short video ahead of time.

They are due to watch a film from documentary maker Stanley Nelson on the history of African Americans, and discuss in small groups their experience of racial discrimination.

There will also be taped addresses from Howard Schultz and Kevin Johnson, the chairman and CEO of Starbucks respectively.

Sharon Rush, a law professor and expert in race relations at the University of Florida, is another of those who is uncertain — even if she applauds Starbuck’s initiative.

She hopes that the coffee behemoth will set an example and encourage other companies to step up training on racial discrimination, as is currently the case on sexual harassment.

“If other companies say ‘I should be doing this,’ that would be a real positive outcome,” she says.

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High-level Afghan delegation meets Janjua


Nasser Janjua Afghan delegation

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Afghanistan have expressed resolve to work together to strengthen bilateral relations and improve security situation in the region.

This understanding came during a meeting between a high-level Afghan delegation and National Security Adviser Nasser Khan Janjua in Islamabad on Sunday.

Afghan National Security Adviser Muhammad Hanif Atmar led the delegation.

They discussed matters of bilateral interest, security situation, and border management between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Afghanistan Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) also came under discussion.

Meanwhile, the Afghan delegation also met Deputy Chairman Planning Commission Sartaj Aziz and discussed ways to increase economic cooperation, bilateral trade, energy, and people to people contacts between the two countries.

It was also agreed to hold meetings of the working groups of the two countries on regular basis.

Other members of the delegation include Chief of General Staff of Afghan National Army Lt. Gen Muhammad Sharif Yaft Ali and Chief of Afghanistan’s spy agency National Directorate of Security Masoom Stanekzai.

Afghan Interior Minister Wais Barmak and Afghan President’s Special Representative Umar Zakhilwal are also part of the delegation.

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‘Our families would be killed’: Rohingya brace for monsoon


COX’S BAZAR, BANGLADESH: Marooned on a dusty slope in the world’s largest refugee camp, Osiur Rahman looked to the hill where a Rohingya girl was buried in a landslide just days earlier and contemplated his chances should the earth give way beneath his feet.

“Our families would be killed. There are children everywhere around here. We constantly fear that rain could trigger a landslide,” the 53-year-old told AFP on the steep embankment where he lives with nine family members in a bamboo shack.

For the 700,000 Rohingya Muslims who have fled to southeast Bangladesh in the past nine months, the approaching monsoon season poses the most serious threat since they were violently expelled from Myanmar.

Close to one million of the stateless Muslim minority live in the Cox’s Bazar district but the new arrivals, stranded on unstable hills in bamboo and plastic shacks, are especially vulnerable.

ALSO READ: Rohingya Muslims face difficult Ramazan in refugee camps

A massive operation to shore up the camps against disaster is in overdrive, with bulldozers levelling hills and refugees bunkering down however they can.

But as the rains approach, the young girl’s death this month in a torrent of mud and rock has heightened fears of a much greater tragedy.

There is a dearth of safe land to relocate the estimated 200,000 refugees in direct danger of floods and landslides, and just 21,000 have been moved so far.

“We could literally have lives lost as people slide down hillsides and valleys are flooded with water,” Kevin J. Allen, head of the UNHCR refugee agency’s operations in Cox’s Bazar, told AFP.

“They could face yet again another emergency, this time driven by mother nature.”

Rohingya refugees make bamboo fences in preparation for the upcoming monsoon season in Kutupalong refugee camp.

The camps’ makeshift homes are predicted to receive more than 2.5 metres (eight feet) of rainfall over three months starting June — roughly triple what Britain gets in a year.

Cox’s Bazar has been battered by cyclones for three years running, having already suffered astonishing devastation in the past.

Cyclones have killed tens of thousands along the Bangladesh coast in recent decades and countless more have been swept to their deaths in floods and landslides.

This time, nature is on a collision course with refugees who have nowhere to run — no higher ground and no cyclone shelters.

Nowhere to go

The first storms underscored the fragility of the camps: the brief rains turned roads into quagmires, crumbled hillsides and flooded low-lying areas.

The huge endeavour to prevent disaster has seen slopes vulnerable to collapse flattened and extensive canal systems carved throughout the camps.

Toilets are being fortified with sandbags to prevent a major disease outbreak should floodwater meet overflowing latrines.

But there are limits to how much can be done. Bangladesh has restricted the use of sturdier materials for shelters because it may suggest the Rohingya plan to stay, contrary to Dhaka’s desire to return them to Myanmar.

Bangladesh has restricted the use of sturdy materials for shelters, fearing it may suggest the Rohingya plan to stay,

The roof was blown clean off Noor Mohammad’s shack in a recent squall. He had gathered chunks of wood and rocks to weigh it down but was “scared of what could pass” when Bangladesh’s wild weather barrels through.

The Rohingya are no strangers to the monsoon, he said. But in Myanmar, villages were built to withstand its ferocity and trees provided a bulwark against the elements.

“Here, there is nothing to stop the wind,” he said, gesturing to the deforested hills stretching for miles.

Bangladesh has freed up hundreds of hectares (acres) but most is hilly and was prone to landslides even before the Rohingya uprooted trees for shelters and firewood.

ALSO READ: ‘Allah Saved Me’: How the families of 10 massacred Rohingya fled Myanmar

‘We will die’

Mosques and community centres could shelter 150,000 people if needed, said Kazi Abdur Rahman, acting district administrator of Cox’s Bazar.

“But if there is a big cyclone, and all these people need relocating, there is not a system for that yet. It is not possible to shift one million people,” he told AFP.

The Rohingya, who have fled persecution time and again, fear being on the run once more.

“Everybody is afraid, wondering where we’ll go if our houses are destroyed,” Rohingya imam Muhammad Yusuf told AFP.

Rohingya refugees carry sandbags in preparation for the upcoming monsoon season in Kutupalong refugee camp.

Aid groups say a cyclone or devastating storm could cut access to the camps for a week — restricting food and supplies to a tent city with a population greater than San Francisco.

The World Food Programme’s emergency coordinator Peter Guest said thousands of porters were being assembled to carry food on foot if access roads were cut.

Those left homeless or starving will have nowhere to run anyway: the Rohingya are encircled by military checkpoints and prohibited from leaving.

“What else can we do? If Allah does not protect us, we will die,” said 60-year-old refugee Dil Mohammad.

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Gilgit Baltistan enjoys rights at par with rest of country: PM


PM Abbasi Gilgit Baltistan

GILGIT: While inaugurating various development projects in Gilgit Baltistan on Sunday, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that the people of Gilgit Baltistan have now acquired the same basic rights as other citizens of Pakistan.  

He said that Gilgit-Baltistan has been granted permission to have its own civil services and it will also be given a quota in the Civil services of Pakistan.

“In the light of GB Order 2018, all authority will be in the hands of the chief secretary of Gilgit-Baltistan including the right of spending central funds. The role of the federal government will be only limited to giving proposals,” PM announced.

Referring to the 18th amendment, Abbasi said Gilgit-Baltistan is now entitled to enjoy the rights similar to other provinces. Governors, judges of high courts and chief justice of the province can also be picked from Gilgit-Baltistan, he assured.

Earlier, the prime minister, in his address to Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly and Gilgit Baltistan Council, said: “We are so proud of our efforts that today a milestone has been achieved by Gligit-Baltistan; now this region will progress and its people will get their due rights.”

“The region is base of CPEC and people of GB will get more benefits from it,” he added.

It is pertinent to mention that yesterday; hundreds of demonstrators in Gilgit-Baltistan staged a rally against the GB Order 2018, demanding an end to governance in Gilgit-Baltistan via presidential orders and acceptance of the region as a part of Pakistan like Fata.

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Alan Bean, moon-walking US astronaut turned painter, dies in Houston


HOUSTON: American astronaut Alan Bean, who walked on the moon in 1969 during the Apollo 12 mission and commanded a crew on the Skylab space station in 1973 before giving up his career to become a full-time painter, died in Houston on Saturday, officials said.

Bean, 86, a former U.S. Navy test pilot who became one of only 12 people ever to set foot on the moon, died at Houston Methodist Hospital, his family said in a statement released by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). He had fallen ill two weeks ago while traveling in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

“Alan was the strongest and kindest man I ever knew. He was the love of my life and I miss him dearly,” said Leslie Bean, Bean’s wife of 40 years, in a statement. “A native Texan, Alan died peacefully in Houston surrounded by those who loved him.”

Leaving his footprints on a region called the Ocean of Storms, Bean in November 1969 became the fourth man to walk on the moon as one of the astronauts on the second of NASA’s lunar landing missions, Apollo 12.

For the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11’s moon landing, Bean exhibited his paintings of lunar scenes at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington.

Bean’s lunar quest came just four months after American Neil Armstrong became the first human to walk on the moon in NASA’s historic Apollo 11 mission in July 1969.

Alan Bean (R), pictured in November 1969 with his fellow US astronauts of Apollo 12, Charles “Pete” Conrad, Jr. (L), commander, and Richard F. Gordon, command module pilot (C), in front of their Saturn V space vehicle.

Bean served as lunar module pilot on Apollo 12. He and crew mate Pete Conrad explored the moon’s surface and conducted experiments while Richard Gordon orbited overhead in the command module, scouting landing sites for future moon missions.

“I remember once looking back at Earth and starting to think, ‘Gee, that’s beautiful.’ Then I said to myself, ‘Quit screwing off and go collect rocks.’ We figured reflection wasn’t productive,” Bean told People magazine in 1981.

The mission was a success, even though it started with a jolt. Shortly after liftoff, the rocket was struck by lightning but the crew was able to continue the three-day flight to the moon. Bean and Conrad spent more than 31 hours on the lunar surface, including more than seven hours working outside of the module.

In 1973, Bean commanded the second mission to Skylab, the first U.S. space station. Along with crew mates Owen Garriott and Jack Lousma, he spent 59 days in low-Earth orbit.

Bean later played a key role in preparing future astronauts, serving in that role until the first flight of the space shuttle in 1981. He even worked with “Star Trek” actress Nichelle Nichols on outreach efforts to prospective astronauts.

‘LIVE YOUR DREAM’

His decision in 1981 to give up his NASA career to become a full-time artist surprised some of his colleagues.

“You have to live your dream even if other people think it’s screwed up,” Bean told a 2010 NASA oral history interview. “About half the astronauts thought it was a midlife crisis or something. The other half, the ones that were more right-brain, thought it was a pretty good idea.”

Bean remembered telling a senior NASA official named George Abbey the reason he was leaving the space agency.

“I said, ‘I’m going to be an artist,’” Bean recalled. “If he hadn’t had the window behind him, he would have gone over backwards. … His first comment: ‘Can you earn a living at that?’ … I said, ‘I don’t know, but if I can’t I’m going to go to work at Jack in the Box (the fast-food hamburger chain).”

Working at his home in Houston, Bean created paintings that focused on the Apollo missions, with images of himself and other astronauts on the moon rendered with the authenticity in lighting and color that only an eyewitness could provide. His paintings sold for tens of thousands of dollars apiece.

Astronaut Alan L. Bean holds a Special Environmental Sample Container filled with lunar soil collected during the Apollo 12 mission in this NASA handout photo provided November 19, 1969.

His former colleagues became admirers. Armstrong once said, “Alan Bean and his ‘astroartistry’ recreate the drama and excitement of man’s exploration of the moon as only could be chronicled by one who has been there.”

“I think I would like to be remembered in the end as an astronaut and an artist,” Bean told People. “I think everyone can do more than one thing with his life.”

Bean was born on March 15, 1932, in Wheeler, Texas, and grew up in Fort Worth. He aspired to become a pilot and started flight training at age 17. He earned a degree in aeronautical engineering at the University of Texas, then was commissioned as an officer in the Navy.

He trained as a Navy test pilot under Conrad, who years later during their astronaut days played a key role in getting Bean designated for the Apollo 11 mission.

The retired Navy captain lived with his wife, Leslie, in Houston. He had two children by a previous marriage.

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Pakistan cruise to victory against England at Lord’s


Pakistan England Test

LONDON: Pakistan on Sunday beat England by nine wickets in a historic win in the first of two-match Test series at the Lord’s. 

Pakistan were set a target of a paltry 64 runs to win the first Test at Lord’s on Sunday as Mohammad Abbas grabbed eight wickets. This is Pakistan’s fifth Test victory at the Lord’s.

Pakistan did lose Azhar Ali in the chase but Haris Sohail batted with aggression for 39 not out and Imam-ul-Haq made 18 as Pakistan crossed the target in just 12.4 overs.

Mohammad Abbas, playing only his seventh Test and had two weeks ago taken nine wickets in Pakistan’s fighting win over debutant Ireland, led the pack with another four-wicket burst for 41 runs — eight wickets in the match to be deservedly declared man of the match.

Mohammad Amir, who was criticised for his lack of wickets, finished with 4-36 as Pakistan’s bowling put England into submission in both the innings.

After bundling out England for 184 in the first innings with superb bowling and as good fielding, Pakistan batsmen negated a world class England attack to take a decisive 179-run lead.

Pakistan had only lost once after taking a lead in access to 160 runs but few expected it will come on the fourth morning.

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Federal govt yet to release Rs166 bn to Sindh, says Murad


Syed Murad Ali Shah

KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that the center has been dragging its feet to release Rs166bn to the provincial government.

Addressing a ceremony here, he said: “Development is impossible without peace. It is due to the security measures taken by the provincial government that the cases of kidnapping for ransom have significantly declined in the metropolis.”

While recalling the chaotic situation of Karachi back in 2013, he said the law and order situation was lamentable at that time as scores of people used to be killed and recurring strikes had become a norm of the city but now the situation has drastically improved.

“Karachi has gotten rid of fearful environment and terrorism because of the efforts of the PPP-led government in the province,” Shah asserted

“International cricket has been brought back to Karachi,” he proudly said.

“General elections will prove that people are standing with the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP),” he claimed.

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Sons beat up elderly mother, leave her in trash heap in Sukkur


Sukkur woman

SUKKUR: An 80-year old woman was found in a trash heap near Sukkur’s Bus Terminal in a semiconscious state after allegedly being beaten up by her sons, ARY News reported. 

According to details, the sons of the elderly woman left her at a garbage dump after allegedly subjecting her to torture over a domestic dispute.

She was found in a semiconscious state and taken to a medical facility for medical attention.

After the incident made it to newsrooms, property tycoon Malik Riaz spurred into action and sent a team to Sukkur to examine the health of the woman and shift her to Karachi for better treatment.

She will be treated at Bahria Town International Hospital, Karachi.

Meanwhile, the Sukkur police acting on the directives of the SSP have taker her son into custody.

The alleged perpetrator, however, denied that the woman was tortured and said she had gone missing from home.

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PM inaugurates Gilgit Baltistan Assembly building


Gilgit Baltistan

GILGIT: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Sunday inaugurated the newly constructed building of Gilgit Baltistan Legislative Assembly in Gilgit.

The state of the art assembly building has been completed at a cost of Rs910 million.

Earlier, upon his arrival the prime minister was received at Gilgit Airport by Governor Mir Ghazanfar Ali Khan, Chief Minister Hafiz Hafeez-ur-Rehman and other high officials.

PM Abbasi paid a visit to the Yadgar-e- Shaudah in Chinar Garden where he laid floral wreath at Yadgar and offered Fatiha for the heroes and martyrs of the liberation war of Gilgit Baltistan.

He then laid foundation stone of Gilgit Naltar expressway road project.The project will be completed at a cost of 2.6 billion rupees in three years.

Gilgit Naltar expressway project after completion will reduce travel distance from two hours to half-an-hour and help promote tourism in the area.

Abbasi also laid foundation stone of Gilgit Baltistan secretariat project.

Addressing the joint session of Gilgit Baltistan Legislative assembly and Gilgit Baltistan Council, he said the region is base of CPEC and people of GB will get more benefits from it.

Earlier, Chief Minister Hafeez-ur-Rehman in his address thanked the premier and termed his visit a milestone in the history of GB.

Minister Kashmir Affairs Gilgit-Baltistan Muhammad Barjees Tahir, and Governor Mir Ghazanfar Ali Khan attended the session.

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Karachi likely to brave hot weather from Tuesday, warns Met Office


Heatwave Karachi

KARACHI: After few days of relief, Karachiites should roll up their sleeves again for another spell of heatwave likely to start in the city from Tuesday. 

The Pakistan Metrological Department (PMD) in its latest weather alert said that residents of the city are likely to experience hot to very hot weather from Tuesday to Thursday. The maximum temperature is expected to remain between the range of 40 to 44 degrees Celsius owing to change in the direction of the cooler and humid sea breeze.

Continental winds from the northwest will blow through the city, pushing the mercury up on the scale, it said.

The temperature in Karachi today has been recorded 37 to 39 degrees Celsius, which will gradually increase from tomorrow with the maximum temperature expected to touch 38 to 40 degree Celsius, as per the forecast.

The plain areas of Sindh and Punjab continue to experience hot weather. Today, the temperature in Lahore was recorded 41 degrees Celsius whereas in Sukkur and Dadu mercury reached 43 and 44 degree Celsius, respectively.

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Police fire teargas, baton-charge JUI-F workers outside KP Assembly


KP Assembly JUI-F workers

PESHAWAR: Police on Sunday resorted to heavy teargas shelling and baton-charge to disperse workers of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) gathered outside Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly to protest against the merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) with the province.

The area outside the assembly virtually turned into a battleground between a heavy contingent of police and protesters who tried to enter the assembly to disrupt the session called to pass a constitutional amendment for the merger of Fata with KP.

Protesters also attempted to lock and climb the assembly gate. However, the police personnel present inside and outside the assembly foiled their bid.

Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has summoned the session of provincial assembly to vote for the Constitution (Thirty-First Amendment) Bill — also known as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) Reforms Bill, 2018.

JUI-F had earlier announced to stage protest to sabotage voting on the bill that erases the colonial-era division between the tribal regions and the province.

Both the houses of the Parliament have already passed the bill with two third majority for merger of FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

After the provincial assembly’s approval the landmark bill will bring the tribal borderlands, comprising seven agencies and six Frontier Regions, to the mainstream and will be merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Tribal people will get representation in the KP Assembly through the amendment.

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Trump and Kim raise summit hopes after days of brinkmanship


Trump Kim Jong Un North Korea

SEOUL: Plans for a landmark summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un are moving “very nicely”, US President Donald Trump said Sunday, as the South’s leader said Kim told him the talks would be a historic opportunity to end decades of confrontation.

The latest conciliatory declarations capped a turbulent few days of diplomatic brinkmanship on the Korean Peninsula that had sent tensions soaring.

Trump rattled the region on Thursday by cancelling a planned June 12 meeting with Kim in Singapore, citing “open hostility” from Pyongyang.

But within 24 hours he reversed course, saying it could still go ahead after productive talks were held with North Korean officials.

“It’s moving along very nicely,” Trump told reporters late Saturday when asked for an update. “We’re looking at June 12 in Singapore. That hasn’t changed.”

Trump’s unpredictability sparked a sudden and surprise meeting on Saturday between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in — only the fourth time leaders from the two countries have ever met — as they scrambled to get the talks back on track.

Pictures showed them shaking hands and embracing on the North Korean side of the Demilitarised Zone separating the two nations.

Moon said Kim reached out to him to arrange the hasty meeting “without any formality”. There the North Korean leader described the Singapore summit as a landmark opportunity to end decades of confrontation.

“He… expressed his intention to put an end to the history of war and confrontation through the success of the North-US summit and to cooperate for peace and prosperity,” Moon told reporters in Seoul on Sunday.

Pyongyang’s state-run KCNA news agency said Kim “expressed his fixed will on the historic DPRK-US summit talks”, using the official abbreviation for North Korea.

Kim said the two Koreas should “positively cooperate with each other as ever to improve the DPRK-U.S. relations and establish mechanism for permanent and durable peace,” KCNA added, saying South and North Korea would hold another round of “high-level” talks on June 1.

Shaky detente

Trump’s original decision to abandon the historic summit initially blindsided South Korea, which had been brokering a remarkable detente between Washington and Pyongyang and is desperate to avoid conflict breaking out.

However, there was a further signal of progress Saturday as White House press secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed a team of US officials was leaving for Singapore “in order to prepare should the summit take place”.

Last year, Trump and Kim were trading war threats and insults after Pyongyang tested its most powerful nuclear weapon to date and missiles it said were capable of reaching the US mainland.

Tensions were calmed after Kim extended an olive branch by offering to send a delegation to the Winter Olympics in South Korea, sparking a rapid detente that led to Trump agreeing to hold direct talks with Pyongyang.

Moon won the election last year partly by vowing to be open to dialogue with the North and finding a solution to a Cold War-era sore that continues to blight the region.

The flurry of diplomatic backslapping and bonhomie disappeared in recent weeks as the summit was thrown into doubt by increasingly bellicose rhetoric from both top US administration officials and Pyongyang.

There are still stark differences between what the two sides hope to achieve

Washington wants North Korea to give up all its nukes in a verifiable way as quickly as possible in return for sanctions and economic relief.

Pyongyang has a different view of what denuclearisation might look like and remains deeply worried that abandoning that deterrent would leave the country vulnerable to regime change.

“Kim stressed again that he had a firm determination towards complete denuclearisation,” Moon told reporters Sunday.

“The thing he was uncertain about was not denuclearisation but concerns on whether he could trust that the US would end its hostile policy and guarantee the security of his regime when the North denuclearises itself.”

‘Back on track’

Saturday’s meeting between Moon and Kim took place on the North Korean side of Panmunjom, a heavily fortified village that lies between the two countries where the 1953 armistice was signed.

Only last month, the two leaders met in the same village, with Kim famously inviting Moon to step briefly into the North before they both held talks in a building on the South’s side.

Kim Yong-hyun, professor of North Korea studies at Dongguk University in Seoul, said Moon and Kim moved quickly to defuse the crisis after Trump’s shock cancellation.

“Moon essentially helped relay messages from Trump to Kim and vice versa, to further smooth the process and to resume negotiations,” he told AFP, saying the Singapore meeting was “clearly back on track”.

Unlike last month’s summit, which was held in front of live TV cameras, Saturday’s meeting took place in utmost secrecy, with reporters only told later that the face-to-face had taken place.

Footage released by the Blue House on Twitter, accompanied by a dramatic orchestral score, showed Moon arriving in a convoy of cars and first shaking hands with Kim’s sister Kim Yo Jong, who has played a major public role in recent talks with the South.

 

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Pakistan’s new envoy to US leaves for Washington to assume office


Ali Jahangir Siddiqui

WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s ambassador-designate to the United States (US) Ali Jahangir Siddiqui is expected to arrive in the US on May 28 and will take charge as new Pakistani envoy to the US on May 29 (Tuesday), ARY News reported. 

Jahangir is traveling to Washington along with his family on his new diplomatic passport.

The new US ambassador has also been summoned by the National Accountability Court (NAB) in a corruption case involving embezzlement of Rs55 billion.

It is pertinent to mention here that Ali Jahangir is due to take up his new position merely two days before the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government completes its five-year term in power.

He will succeed Aizaz Chaudhry who has been serving as Pakistan’s envoy to the US until his retirement last month.

Siddiqui, who holds a BA in Economics from Cornell University, US, is the son of the famous banker and businessman Jahangir Siddiqui. He has served as director of Airblue airlines, Lucky Cement, Azgard Nine along with several other companies. In 2014, he was honoured as a Young Global Leader by World Economic Forum.

Besides, he has also served as member of the Privatisation Commission, the Private Sector Advisory Board of the Planning Commission, the Sindh Board of Investment, and as member of the Community Development Board of the Government of Sindh.

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KP Assembly meets to vote for Fata, KP merger amid JUI-F protest


PESHAWAR: A crucial session of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly will be held today to pass a constitutional amendment that provides for the merger of the Federally Administered Areas (Fata) with the province amid strong protest by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F).

Dozens of JUI-F workers have assembled outside the provincial assembly in a bid to disrupt the scheduled session.

Chanting slogans against the merger, a number of party activists attempted to enter the premises of the assembly by climbing its main gate. However, a strong contingent of police present inside and outside the assembly foiled their bid.

A water cannon has also been summoned to disperse protesters.

JUI-F had earlier announced to stage protest to oppose the passage of the Constitution (Thirsty-First Amendment) Bill, 2018 that erases the colonial-era division between the tribal region and the province.

Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has summoned the session of provincial assembly to vote for the Constitution (Thirty-First Amendment) Bill — also known as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) Reforms Bill, 2018.

Both the houses of the Parliament have already passed the bill with two third majority for merger of FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

After the provincial assembly’s approval the landmark bill will bring the tribal borderlands, comprising seven agencies and six Frontier Regions, to the mainstream and will be merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Tribal people will get representation in the KP Assembly through the amendment.

According to the amended bill, the number of seats in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly will increase to 145 from existing 124. Fata will be granted 16 general seats, four seats for women and one seat for non-Muslims in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly.

Elections on these provincial legislature seats shall be held within one year after the general elections 2018.

The amendment reduces the number of seats in the National Assembly from 342 to 336. The members of the National Assembly from Fata to be elected in the 2018 election shall continue till dissolution of the Lower House.

According to the constitutional amendment, the number of seats of Senate will be reduced to 96 from existing 104.  The existing members of the Senate from Fata shall continue till expiry of their respective terms of office.

The constitution amendment also envisages amendments in article 246 and repeals article 247 which place the tribal areas under the command and control of President.

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Imran eyes victory as President announces elections on July 25


Imran Khan elections

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani cricket star-turned-politician Imran Khan’s party vowed Sunday to oust the country’s “corrupt” rulers, as the nuclear-armed state announced it will hold general elections on July 25.

The poll will bring to a head political tensions that have been building since former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was ousted by the Supreme Court on corruption charges and later barred from politics for life.

Khan is hoping to achieve a years-long dream of leading the country as its prime minister, and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party is the main challenger to the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which was headed by Sharif until his ban.

PTI leaders have said they are confident they will be able to defeat the PML-N.

“The Pakistani nation… can see the dawn of a new Pakistan, which will not be ruled by the corrupt,” the party said in a statement posted Sunday on Twitter along with a graphic that read “Mafia’s Game Over”.

“Stop us if you can,” it said in another tweet.

The bullish comments came after Pakistan’s president Mamnoon Hussain on Saturday approved July 25 as the date for the elections, which offer the prospect of what would be only the second-ever democratic transfer of power in the South Asian country.

The current government, led by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, is expected to hand over power to a caretaker administration in the coming days.

Despite Sharif’s ouster, the ruling party says it has invested in improving Pakistan’s rickety infrastructure and attracted billions of dollars in Chinese investment. It has also denied allegations of graft against its leadership by opponents like Khan.

PTI has vowed to fight corruption, presenting itself as a polar opposite of what it calls status-quo politicians.

Since he was ousted, Sharif and the PML-N have become increasingly vocal in their confrontation with the country’s powerful military establishment and the courts, claiming there is a conspiracy afoot to reduce the party’s power.

– Increasing pressure –

Sharif was the 15th prime minister in Pakistan’s seven-decade history — roughly half of it under military rule — to be removed before completing a full term.

The country saw its first ever democratic transfer of power following elections in 2013, which the PML-N won by a landslide.

“This is the second consecutive parliament to complete its tenure and we are now looking forward to… (going) to the people to get their verdict on our performance,” Finance Minister Miftah Ismail told AFP.

Despite the numerous court rulings against the PML-N, the party has won a string of recent by-elections, proving it will likely remain a powerful force.

It continues to enjoy large swathes of support in Punjab, the country’s most populous province, but will enter the election under increasing pressure.

In April, a Pakistan court disqualified Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif for violating the country’s election laws, while Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal was shot in the arm in a suspected assassination attempt by an Islamist gunman earlier this month.

Sharif also sparked a firestorm after suggesting Pakistani militants were behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks, approaching what is seen as a red line in the country by touching on criticism of Pakistan’s military.

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Real fans in Madrid dreaming of ‘la decimotercera’


Real

MADRID: With just hours before kick-off in Saturday’s Champions League final in Kiev, supporters of Real Madrid began to converge on the Santiago Bernabeu in the hope of witnessing “la decimotercera”, a 13th European Cup title.

Near to their stadium, which will be packed out with fans watching the match against Liverpool on a giant screen, were hundreds of Real supporters, many with flags in the team’s colours draped over their shoulders or fastened around their waists.

“We are the kings of Europe”, chanted one fan carrying a megaphone while others danced and sang songs celebrating the club’s rich and successful history.

“It’s what we’ve been waiting for the whole year. We’re going to win our third consecutive title, which no team has ever done,” one supporter, Javier Saez, told AFP just outside the ground.

Streets in the city centre were also awash with fans wearing replica shirts, many sporting the names of Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo or Real captain Sergio Ramos.

The most successful club in European Cup history with 12 titles, Real are bidding for yet another triumph in Kiev to add another glorious chapter to the club’s storied history.

Frenchman Zinedine Zidane could become the first coach to win three consecutive Champions League crowns, despite having spent less than three years at the helm.

“It would be a proud moment. No one has done it,” said Joel Martin, holding aloft an inflatable European Cup.

Gabriel Diaz, a Real fan from Barcelona, was at the Bernabeu last year to watch a live broadcast of the 4-1 victory over Juventus in the final in Cardiff.

“It was one of the best days of my life. To live that was an unforgettable experience. It’s the best club in the history of football without doubt,” he added.

Read More: Zidane, Real Madrid hoping for more glory in 2018

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‘It’s our destiny’ — Fans paint Liverpool red ahead of Champions League final


Liverpool

Liverpool fans were dreaming of Champions League glory as they turned their city into a sea of red ahead of the hotly-anticipated showdown with Real Madrid in Kiev on Saturday.

After a week dominated by the frustration of Liverpool supporters who were unable to travel to the Ukraine for the final of Europe’s elite club competition, the big day arrived with anticipation at fever pitch among those who stayed on Merseyside.

Two travel companies axed flights, leaving diehard fans scrambling to find a way to travel to Kiev.

For those who couldn’t make it, the party was already underway in the city centre.

Shops and streets were decked out in red banners, scarves and posters, reflecting Liverpool fans’ belief that by full-time in Kiev they will be celebrating the club’s sixth European Cup and first since 2005.

“There’s this momentum around the city,” said Danny Byrne, 43, doing a roaring trade in flags and scarves outside the club’s Anfield stadium, which will later host a sold out 30,000 viewing event on jumbo screens.

“There’s this real belief that we’re going to do it and it’s our destiny. All the stars are aligned.”

The showdown in the Ukrainian capital — 1,400 miles (2,300 kilometres) east of Liverpool — follows a momentous season which has seen the Reds plunder 46 goals in 14 games, making it back to the Champions League final for the first time in 11 years.

But to lift the famous trophy, they must stop holders Real winning the competition for a third successive year in a confrontation some fans see as a David and Goliath climax to an historic season.

“Underestimate the underdog and you get bitten,” warned 56-year-old fan Arthur Tutte, showing off his Liverpool FC tattoo outside Anfield. His son was one of the fans who fell victim to the “utter shambles” of travel chaos, but was fortunately able to find another route to Kiev.

In the morning, packed trains arrived at Lime Street station, spilling chanting fans who have made the pilgrimage to Liverpool onto platforms.

‘Hell of a big game’

The centre of the city — already busy during the British bank holiday weekend — was a sea of red football strips.

Egypt striker Mohamed Salah’s number 11 shirt was a favourite among the crowd — and at the official Liverpool merchandise store where stocks were dented by keen shoppers.

Salah has scored 44 goals in all competitions to lead Liverpool back to the Champions League final thanks to memorable wins over Manchester City and Roma in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively.

Aboard a train from London filled with fans was James Beaney, 42, carrying a mask of Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, but suffering from match day nerves.

“It’s a hell of a big game against another European giant,” he told AFP.

“You’ve got to give Real Madrid respect but I think we’ve got nothing to be afraid of,” he reasoned.

Anfield was a hive of activity, echoing with the club’s “You’ll Never Walk Alone” anthem hours before the 1845 GMT kick off.

Inside Anfield, stewards were welcoming fans for the BT Sport viewing party and technicians tested confetti cannons — anticipating a cause for celebration later in the evening.

Cars with flags lapped the stadium honking horns to cheers, with one female fan hanging out of the window, chanting “Allez, Allez, Allez” — the title of the season’s favourite fan chant that goes: “We’ve conquered all of Europe, We’re never going to stop.”

Pensioner John Hagen will watch the match at home, but he stopped by the stadium earlier in the day with his dog Fergal, walking him on a Liverpool FC collar.

“I’ve just come down to soak it up,” he told AFP as parents and children in full football kits lunched in the grounds. “It will be a hell of a game.”

Outside nearby pub The Sandon, maintenance man Alan Gedman climbed a ladder to untangle an “Allez, Allez, Allez” flag with great care as workers rolled some 90 kegs of beer into the bar in preparation for the day’s trade.

Read More: Istanbul to host 2020 Champions League final

Fans were already in a frenzy of optimism, amassing to watch the match on a huge screen on a double decker bus parked outside — chanting “When the reds go marching in.”

“I’ve been here since six o?clock this morning!” Gedman said.

Enjoying among the high-spirited crowd was Tony Jones. “I’m an Evertonian but I want Liverpool to win for the city”, he said.

“It means a lot.”

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Lord’s Test: Buttler and Bess spare England an innings defeat by Pakistan


Pakistan

LONDON: Jos Buttler and Dominic Bess fought a determined rearguard action as England avoided an innings defeat by Pakistan in the first Test at Lord’s on Saturday.

When the pair came together before tea on the third day, England were 110 for six in their second innings — still needing a further 69 runs to make Pakistan bat again.

But come stumps, England were 235 for six after an unbroken century stand by their seventh-wicket duo.

England were a mere 56 runs ahead with four wickets standing and the new ball on the horizon, but at least they were still in the game.

Buttler was 66 not out and Bess 55 not out after marking his Test debut with a fine fifty.

The duo’s 125-run stand was also a vindication for England’s new national selector, Ed Smith, who had recalled Buttler as a specialist number seven batsman and picked Somerset off-spinner Bess.

But the way the pair played on a sunny day in the best batting conditions of the match, was also an indictment of some of their top-order colleagues involved in England’s latest collapse.

England are historically difficult to beat in home Tests starting in May – they’ve lost just three out of 33.

Yet they were facing the prospect of going 1-0 down in this two-match series midway though the afternoon after Mohammad Amir took two wickets in three balls to dismiss Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow.

England were 179 runs behind on first innings after Pakistan were bowled out for 363 early on Saturday, with Babar Azam unable to add to his 68 after retiring hurt Friday with a broken forearm while facing Ben Stokes.

The hosts soon found themselves in further trouble as Alastair Cook was dismissed for just one.

The left-handed opener, making a record-equalling 153rd consecutive Test appearance, had top-scored with 70 in England’s meagre first-innings 184.

But Saturday saw England’s all-time leading Test run-scorer lbw to Mohammad Abbas.

Teenage leg-spinner Shadab Khan struck next when Mark Stoneman was bowled off stump by a ball that kept low.

Amir rocks England

The afternoon session saw Amir strike twice to initiate a collapse that saw England lose four wickets for 19 runs.

It was the exit of Malan, who saw a piece of his helmet fly off after turning away from a Hasan Ali bouncer, that sparked the slump.

Malan edged a good-length Amir delivery, with diving wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed, the Pakistan captain, holding an excellent low one-handed catch that would not have carried to first slip.

Two balls later, Bairstow fell for a duck when left-arm quick Amir produced a superb delivery that cut back to clip the top of off stump.

Amir, whose career almost came to a complete end at Lord’s back in 2010 after he received a jail sentence and five-year ban from cricket for his involvement in a spot-fixing scandal during a corresponding Test against England, had taken two wickets for no runs in three balls.

England were now 91 for four and badly needed a batsman to support captain Joe Root, who had made a 93-ball fifty.

But instead Stokes (nine) carelessly turned Shadab off his pads to substitute Fakhar Zaman at midwicket.

A frustration of the talented Root’s career has been an inability to turn Test fifties into hundreds and Saturday was a case in point.

This was his 40th half-century at this level but there was no 14th Test hundred as Root fell lbw to Abbas for 68.

Buttler and Bess, however, kept Pakistan at bay with Bess — whose first-class debut, against Pakistan, was just two years ago — driving Hasan Ali for four to give England the lead.

A four by Buttler saw him to an 89-ball fifty, with the 20-year-old Bess — in his first match at Lord’s — receiving huge cheers when he reached the landmark in 93 balls.

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Kevin Pietersen not surprised by Pakistan’s performance at Lord’s


Kevin Pietersen

Former England cricketer Kevin Pietersen, who has played under Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed in the Pakistan Super League (PSL), is not surprised at all by the guest team’s performance at Lord’s.

Lauding the Quetta Gladiators captain, he said, “I played under Safraz for 3 seasons of PSL & he certainly has a winning instinct!”

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Lavishing the Green Shirts coach with praise, he said, “Mickey is also very smart.”

Read More: Pakistan lead England by 179 runs in 1st Test

Pakistan were dismissed for 363 in reply to England’s first innings 184, a lead of 179 runs, on the third day of the first Test at Lord’s on Saturday.

Four Pakistan batsmen made fifties, with Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq and Shadab Khan joining Babar in reaching the landmark.

Pakistan have only ever lost one Test in which they have led on first innings by at least 179 runs, against Australia at Sydney in 2009/10 when they established a 206-run advantage at that stage only to suffer a 36-run defeat.

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Zardari announces to contest next elections from Nawabshah


zardari

KARACHI: Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari on Saturday announced to contest the next general elections from his hometown of Nawabshah, ARY News reported.

The former president made the announcement during an informal discussion with mediapersons during a reception at the Chief Minister House also attended by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

Zardari said that he would contest elections for a National Assembly seat from his hometown, as the people of Nawabshah want him to lead them. He said that he decided to go to parliament so he could lead fellow party members for represent the nation.

However, it is unsure which seat he would contest, and whether he would contest from any other part of the country. When asked whether it was necessary to contest elections from Nawabshah, Zardari said that he could contest from anywhere across the country, but the people of the city had expressed the desire that he should represent them.

Asked if the party stronghold of Lyari could be a possible constituency to contest election, he said that the decision will be made by the party and he will abide by it.

It may be mentioned that Bilawal has already announced to contest upcoming general elections from NA-200 Larkana. The constituency is considered to be the home turf of the PPP, and even former prime minister Benazir Bhutto had been elected from the constituency.

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Colonel Gaddafi warned me about Balochistan, says Sheikh Rasheed


Gaddafi

RAWALPINDI: Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rasheed on Saturday said that former Libyan leader late Colonel Gaddafi warned him about a possible unrest in Balochistan, ARY News reported.

“Colonel Gaddafi told me that we (Pakistanis) should stay careful about Balochistan during the years 2025 to 2030 … whatever he (Gaddafi) predicted about Iraq turned out to be true, his prediction about his own death came true,” Sheikh Rasheed said during an ARY News talkshow.

The AML chief claimed that the late Libyan leader used to chat with him a lot and warned him about a possible crisis in Balochistan so Pakistan should tread carefully in the province.

More to follow…

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Deserted by kids, ‘Pakeezah’ actress Geeta Kapoor is no more


Geeta

Veteran Bollywood actor Geeta Kapoor, who rose to fame with her role in Pakeezah film, breathed her last on Saturday morning at a Mumbai hospital at the age of 57.

She was abandoned by her son and daughter last year and she spent her last days at an old age home. Film personalities Ashoke Pandit and Ramesh Taurani had been paying for her care and medical bills. The actress has worked in more than 100 films including classics such as ‘Pakeezah’ and ‘Razia Sultan’.

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“Heartbreaking! ‘Pakeezah’ actress Geeta Kapoor passes away after waiting to see her children one last time,” tweeted her family friend Pandit.

Kapoor was living at Jeevan Asha old age home run by the Society of Helpers of Mary in Mumbai.

She had once complained of ill-treatment meted out by her son, including not giving her food regularly.

In her last days, she hankered very much to see her children, but they never showed up and she grew weaker and weaker every day until she passed away on Saturday, said Pandit.

The body will be kept at the Cooper Hospital morgue ahead of the funeral on Monday. It is not confirmed yet if her children would come to perform the final rites or not.

“Her body will be kept at Cooper Hospital, Vile Parle for two days hoping her children to come and at least do the last rites. Otherwise, we will do our best to bid her a dignified goodbye,” Pandit tweeted.

Kapoor’s son, Raja, is a choreographer and her daughter, Pooja, is an air hostess.

 

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Two people dead, three missing in Oman after cyclone


DUBAI: Two people, including a child, were killed and three others went missing in the Omani province of Dhofar after Cyclone Mekunu hit the southern region of the Gulf Arab country, Omani police and state news media said on Saturday.

The three missing were Asian nationals, state news agency ONA reported. Mekunu started to weaken to a tropical storm in Oman and authorities began clearing operations on Saturday after the heavy rain but warned residents to stay in their homes, with run-off from river valleys flooding most main roads in Dhofar.

The cyclone also killed at least seven people in the Yemeni island of Socotra, a Yemeni official said on Saturday. At least 40 people were missing.

Read More: Dozens missing as Cyclone Mekenu hits Yemeni island

Yemen declared a state of emergency on Thursday for Socotra, which lies between southern Yemen and the Horn of Africa and is renowned for its unique animal and plant life.

Largely untouched by Yemen’s three-year-old war, it is under the control of the internationally recognized government whose president, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, is in exile in Saudi Arabia.

The storm flooded Socotra’s villages and capsized boats, leaving much of the island without access to communications.

Authorities in Oman have said they expected the cyclone to pass over the city of Salalah on Friday night. As wind and rain began to pummel southern Oman during the day, they extended the closure of the city’s airport until Saturday.

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Madden NFL 19 comes to PS4 very soon


NFL

Building on the success of last season, Madden NFL 19 pushes gameplay farther than ever before, with advances in popular game modes and control put solidly in the players’ hands.

Madden Writer Daniel Williams writes prior to launch of the EA SPORTS game on PS4.

“At the forefront of these changes are the enhancements to player influence. Madden NFL 19 will deliver unprecedented control with Real Player Motion (RPM).

“RPM brings realistic character movements and animation variety, creating authentic movement unique to positions and body types that delivers game-changing control and precision on the field. For example, RPM allows you to ‘Hit the Hole’ by finding an open lane, maneuvering around your opponent, and seamlessly running through the lane for that critical extra yardage,” he said.

For the ultimate fantasy football team, there’s Madden Ultimate Team, and now there are even more ways to play with your custom roster. Solo Battles is a leaderboard driven reward system comparing your performance in daily single player challenges against other top MUT players.

MUT Squads was a popular game mode introduced last season that allowed players to combine efforts to build amazing rosters for online 3 vs. 3 matchups. In Madden NFL 19, you can team up with friends against the CPU to take on tough challenges set to push your teamwork to the limit.

A longtime favorite mode in the Madden community is Connected Franchise. This mode gives players the ultimate NFL experience. With Madden NFL 19, in addition to controlling the NFL team of your choosing, you’ll be able to adjust the roster to completely fit your scheme and gameplan thanks to Player Positional Archetypes, which help determine which players are the best fit. Improve how well your roster and scheme match as you earn XP and spend Skill Points to boost specific skill sets.

Madden NFL 19 is set up to be the best Madden season yet and is coming to PS4 August 10.

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Mysterious crocodile-like creature washes up on Welsh beach


creature

A mysterious crocodile-like creature washed up on a Welsh beach, causing quite the debate before a marine biologist provided an answer.

Beth Jannetta was walking her three dogs near Rhossili, Swansea, when she came across the decomposing creature with a long tail and large head, which she estimated to be around one metre long.

Bearing a strange resemblance to a crocodile, the 41-year-old placed a photo of the animal on Facebook, with many weighing in with their theories of what it could be.

“I was going for a run with my dogs when I came across it. It looked like a well rotted cetacean to me. I put it on Facebook and it caused a big discussion.

“Other people think it is something different, like a crocodile. It would be very interesting to find out what species it is,” she said.

Dr. Dan Forman, of the Swansea ecology research team at Swansea University’s department of biosciences, has now offered his view on what it could be.

He said: “Its jawline suggests it is like a cetacean whale or a dolphin. We get a reasonable amount of whales and dolphins, a lot which are dead and decomposed in places like Pendine and Rhossili.

“From the data around carcasses washed up, there seems to be a cluster this time of year around June and July. The jaw is thin in places and it looks from the picture like it is upside down.

“When you look at it the first time you may think it is a crocodile, but it is certainly not. There is a big bulge on the base of the skull which is characteristic of a cetacean.”

Mark Hipkin, National Trust area ranger, collected the creature from the beach on Thursday and confirmed it was a porpoise, adding: “It is only about five foot long. We picked it up on a Land Rover at around 8am this morning and reported it to the council.

“We have porpoises washing up quite regularly, as well as dolphins and seals and sometimes sheep.

“It has not been very stormy weather lately, but there has been a lot of dog fish in the last couple of days.” Dr Forman advised anyone who finds a dead stranded animal to contact the UK Stranding Network.

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Hawaii street swallowed by ‘lava tide’ as many more homes burn


PAHOA, HAWAII: A tide of molten rock turned a Hawaii street into a volcanic wasteland on Friday as the number of homes destroyed by the erupting Kilauea volcano soared and authorities told residents to flee a surge of lava heading towards them.

The destructive fury of the erupting Kilauea volcano was unleashed on the Big Island’s Leilani Estates housing development, with the number of homes and other structures destroyed leaping to 82 from a previous count of 50, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Some 2,200 acres (890 hectares) of land have been torched by lava since May 3, in what is likely to be the most destructive eruption of Kilauea in more than a century, according to the County of Hawaii.

“There were eight houses taken on this road in 12 hours,” Ikaika Marzo said in a Facebook video as he stood on Kaupuli street and showed a black, glass-like lava field where his cousin’s house previously stood.

Magma spewed from 100-foot-high (30-meter-high) cinder cones and formed elevated ponds of molten rock that were expected to soon overflow and stream into the next rows of homes – Kahukai Street and Mohala Street. Firefighters went door to door evacuating residents before the lava arrived.

“It’s this tide of lava that rises up and overflows itself on the edges and keeps rising and progressing forward,” U.S. Geological Survey geologist Wendy Stovall told journalists on a conference call.

Around 37 structures are already “lava locked,” meaning homes are inaccessible, and people who do not evacuate may be trapped by lava flows.

“Any residents remaining in the current affected areas should evacuate now,” Hawaii County Civil Defense said in an alert.

Magma is draining underground from a sinking lava lake at Kilauea’s 4,091-foot (1,247-meter) summit before flowing around 25 miles (40 km) east and bursting from giant cracks, with two flows reaching the ocean just over three miles (5 km) distant.

Stovall declined to comment on lava volume being emitted. Marzo said he was told by a USGS geologist there was much more to come from Kilauea.

“What has been coming out is just a small fraction of what was in the volcano,” he said.

Though lava destruction from the volcano is confined to a roughly 10-square-mile (26-sq-km) area, the eruption is hurting the island’s tourist-driven economy as potential visitors fear ashfall or volcanic smog belching from Kilauea’s summit.

Visitor numbers to the Connecticut-sized island so far in 2018 are “trending a little bit lower” than 2017, with the cancellation of some port visits by cruise ships expected to have a $3 million impact, Ross Birch, head of the island’s tourism board said on a conference call.

Additional reporting by Jolyn Rosa in Honolulu; Writing and additional reporting by Andrew Hay in Taos, New Mexico; Editing by Sandra Maler and Paul Tait

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Ramazan Recipe: Macaroni Chaat


macaroni

Ingredients

Boiled potato

Onion

4-5 Crushed green chilies

2 tbsp crushed coriander

2 tbsp chopped mint leaves

1½ cup yogurt

1 tbsp salt

1 dash chaat masala

1 tbsp olive oil

Macaroni

Directions

  1. Place macaroni in salt water and boil it for 5 to 7 minutes .
  2. Now take out the warm water from the drainer and replace it with cold water. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil and put it aside.
  3. Cut the potato and onion into small cubes. Add them along with crushed green chilies, green coriander, and chopped mint leaves in a bowl.
  4. Drain the water from the macaroni and add it to the bowl. Mix the ingredients properly.
  5. Garnish it with yogurt and chaat masala and serve.

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A step forward

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