Category Archives: NEWS

Meghan Markle’s wedding ring to follow this age-old royal tradition

Meghan Markle

BODELWYDDAN: When Britain’s Prince Harry marries Meghan Markle in May he will be following a royal tradition started nearly 100 years ago of using a wedding band of Welsh gold.

His great-grandmother, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, was the first to use gold from Wales in her ring when, as Elizabeth Bowes Lyon, she married the future King George VI in 1923.

A vintage hallmarking press featuring a Welsh Dragon is seen at the Clogau office in Bodelwyddan, North Wales, Britain, March 12, 2018. Picture taken March 12, 2018. REUTERS/Phil Noble

Her example was followed by the current Queen Elizabeth when she married Prince Philip in 1947 and then by royals through to Prince William’s wedding to Catherine Middleton in 2011.

Roberts said he thought the ring would be a light shade of gold to match Markle’s engagement ring, which was designed by Prince Harry and features three diamonds.

“Looking at her engagement ring, it will probably have to match, so it will probably be yellow,” he told Reuters, rather than the distinctive rose-gold commonly used in the company’s jewellery designs.

In 1981, Clogau gave the queen an ingot of Welsh gold from one of its two mines, Clogau St David’s, to make the wedding rings of future royal brides.


The 24-carat Welsh gold has a higher percentage of pure gold than standard 18-carat gold, giving it a rich, warm color.

The company’s two mines, both in Bontddu, northwest Wales, are currently closed, having last operated in the late 1990s. As finite gold resources are running out, Roberts has plans to reopen Gwynfynydd in the near future and invite the queen’s son and heir Prince Charles to visit the mine.

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Bilawal vows to foil attempts to privatize PIA and PSM


KARACHI: Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Wednesday vowed to foil attempts by the federal government to sell national carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and country’s largest industrial mega-corporation complex Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM)

The PPP chairman while presiding over a meeting of party leaders asked government to shelve privatization of these state units forthwith.

The meeting was attended by former Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani, PPP Sindh President Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Karachi President Saeed Ghani and Information Minister Syed Nasir Shah.

Bilawal said that PIA and PSM are owned by the people of Pakistan, who will not allow to put these national assets under the hammer in a dubious manner through ‘buy one and get one free’ package.

He was referring to recent comments by Minister for State for Financial Affairs Miftah Ismail who offered to hand over PSM for free to the investor who agrees to buy the loss-making PIA. Ismail was adman to sell the PIA which incurs an annual loss of Rs40 billio, while the PSM pay Rs400 million per month to workers.

Bilawal further said that it was height of dishonesty that a prime minister who is running his private airline in profit and capturing the market and routes of national carrier was adamant to sell out PIA.

Likewise, Nawaz Sharif and his family were running his personal steel mills in huge profit at home and abroad, and were deliberately dragging Pakistan Steel Mills to the verge collapse to form their personal steel cartel.

He asked PPP leaders to raise voice against the privatization of both PIA and PSM at every forum and expressed complete solidarity with employees of these state corporations.

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Explainer: What are the links between Cambridge Analytica and a Brexit campaign group?

Cambridge Analytica

British consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica lies at the centre of a storm for using data obtained from millions of Facebook users without their permission after it was hired by Donald Trump for his 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign.

However, the analytics firm is also under scrutiny over campaigning for the 2016 referendum when Britons voted to leave the European Union.

Cambridge Analytica and the leaders of the Leave.EU group have previously boasted about working together during the Brexit campaign. However, they have since retracted their claims, saying no contract was signed and no work was completed.

Parliament is investigating the links between Cambridge Analytica and Leave.EU as part of an investigation into fake news.

Did Cambridge Analytica and Leave.EU work together?

Arron Banks, the co-founder of Leave.EU, said in a book that in October 2015 his group hired Cambridge Analytica, a company that uses “big data and advanced psychographics” to influence people. In a November 2015, Leave.EU said on its website that Cambridge Analytica “will be helping us map the British electorate and what they believe in, enabling us to better engage with voters”.

In the same month, Cambridge Analytica director Brittany Kaiser spoke at a Leave.EU news conference. She said her organisation would be “running large-scale research of the nation to really understand why people are interested in staying in or out of the EU”.

In February 2016, Cambridge Analytica chief executive Alexander Nix wrote in Campaign magazine that his company was working for Leave.EU. “We have already helped supercharge Leave.EU’s social media campaign by ensuring the right messages are getting to the right voters online,” said Nix, who was suspended by the company this week.

Leave.EU’s communications director Andy Wigmore also said on Twitter last year that his campaign group had used the company. “You should use Cambridge Analytics,” he said, adding that he could “highly recommend them”.

What does Leave.EU say now?

Banks says Cambridge Analytica sought work with the Leave.EU before the referendum but that ultimately it never did any – paid or otherwise – for the campaign.

“We did have dealings with Cambridge Analytica – they put forward a pitch that went into the designation document submitted to the electoral commission,” Banks told Reuters.

No work was done with Cambridge Analytica because Leave.EU did not win the designation as the official leave campaign and due to concerns about the consultancy, Banks said.

When asked if Leave.EU paid or accepted any services from Cambridge Analytica, Banks said: “No benefit in kind, no data, no nothing.”

Banks told a parliamentary committee earlier this month that when he referred to Cambridge Analytica being “hired” in his book this was a reference to the intention to work them.

 What does Cambridge Analytica say now?

Nix told a parliamentary committee last month that he contacted Banks and Wigmore and their statements were not true.

The article written in the Campaign magazine was a mistake and “drafted by a slightly overzealous PR consultant”, he said.

This “referenced work that we hoped and intended to undertake for the campaign. Subsequently, work was never undertaken. The moment that that statement went out we were absolutely crystal clear to all the media outlets that we were not involved and that it had been released in error,” he said.

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Saudi Arabia revamps school curriculum to combat Muslim Brotherhood


RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is seeking to purge its school curriculum of any influence of the Muslim Brotherhood and dismiss employees who sympathise with the group, the education minister said.

The government will “fight extremist ideologies by reviewing school curricula and books to ensure they are free of the banned Muslim Brotherhood’s agenda”, Ahmed bin Mohammed al-Issa said in a statement Tuesday.

It also seeks to “ban books attributed to the Muslim Brotherhood from all schools and universities and remove all those who sympathise with the group”, he added.

The statement comes after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told CBS television in an interview Sunday that elements of the Muslim Brotherhood, designated as a “terror group” by the kingdom, had infiltrated Saudi schools.

Human Rights Watch said last September that the kingdom’s religious studies curriculum stokes intolerance, with “hateful and incendiary language” towards religious minorities.

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Khamenei says Iran has foiled US plans in Mideast


TEHRAN: Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tehran has neutralised US plans in the Middle East, in a speech Wednesday marking the Persian New Year.

“Those who interfere in all the affairs of the world protest and ask: ‘Why does Iran intervene in the affairs of Iraq and Syria?’ What is it to you? The Islamic Republic of Iran has succeeded in neutralising US plans in the region,” he said.

Khamenei accused the United States of planning to “create oppressive and rebel groups like Daesh (the Islamic State group) to distract people in the region from the Zionist regime (Israel) and keep them occupied with internal conflicts”.

The all-powerful Iranian leader’s speech was delivered in the holy city of Mashad and broadcast on state television.

Iran has supported the governments of Syria and Iraq by sending “military advisers” and its own “volunteers” along with Afghans and Pakistanis to fight militants and rebels.

Its presence in the region has been denounced by the United States as well as France, Britain, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Khamenei said Iran was there “at the request of the governments and people” of those countries.

“Without a doubt, the United States will not reach its goals in the region and, thank God, we will achieve ours,” he added.

His comments came after US President Donald Trump angered Iran over a message to its people on the occasion of the Nowruz New Year celebrations.

In the message, Trump said: “The Iranian people face another challenge: rulers who serve themselves instead of serving their people”.

Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, on Tuesday lashed out at the “absurd insults”.

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UK’s Johnson likens Putin’s World Cup to 1936 Berlin Olympics


London: British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson agreed on Wednesday that President Vladimir Putin would exploit the 2018 football World Cup in Russia as Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler did the Berlin Olympics.

Johnson agreed with an MP who suggested, “Putin is going to use it in the way Hitler used the 1936 Olympics”, as a propaganda exercise.

“I think the comparison with 1936 is certainly right,” the minister replied, envisaging Putin “glorying in this sporting event”.

The comments came amid an escalating war of words between Russia and Britain over the poisoning of a former Russian double agent on British soil earlier this month.

Johnson also called for Russian guarantees over the safety of England fans at the World Cup.

‘Unfair to punish the team’

However, he stressed the British government had no plans to stop the England side travelling to the World Cup, telling MPs: “On balance, it would be incredibly unfair to punish the (England) team”.

Hitler wanted the 1936 Games to be a symbol of Aryan supremacy and famously refused to shake hands with American star Jesse Owens, the black track and field athlete who won four gold medals in Berlin.

Relations between London and Moscow are in crisis over the March 4 nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in Britain, which the UK is blaming on the Kremlin.

Britain has expelled 23 Russian diplomats and Moscow has responded in kind — but Johnson said they had kicked out the UK official set to be tasked with the fan safety portfolio.

“You can’t imagine anything more counter-productive to the UK’s ability to help fans in Russia, so there is an issue — there is a discussion,” he added.

“My challenge to the Russian authorities is to show that the 24,000 UK applicants for tickets to the football World Cup are going to be well-treated, are going to be safe. It is up to the Russians to guarantee the safety of England fans going to Russia.”

Johnson insisted Britain was doing all it could to ensure the safety of England fans and had been coordinating with the Russian police in recent months.

“At the moment, we are not inclined actively to dissuade people from going because we want to hear from the Russians what steps they are going to take to look after our fans,” he said.

England are due to play Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18, Panama in Nizhny Novgorod on June 24 and Belgium in Kaliningrad on June 28 in their Group G matches.

At the 2016 European football championships in France, England fans were attacked by Russians in Marseille, ahead of a match between the two teams and in the stadium itself.

The clashes left 35 people injured, including two England fans who suffered serious injuries.

The Russian team was given a suspended disqualification and the country’s national football federation was fined.

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India warns against social media data misuse ahead of elections


NEW DELHI: Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Wednesday warned against any abuse of social media in elections, following reports that a British consultancy improperly accessed information on millions of Facebook users to target U.S. voters.

India is due to hold a national election in 2019 and several states will elect new assemblies this year and next.

“Abuse of social media including Facebook cannot be allowed to impact the fairness of elections,” Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters.

“In the wake of recent data theft from Facebook, let my stern warning be heard across the Atlantic, far away in California. Any covert or overt attempt to misuse social media including Facebook to influence India’s electoral process through undesirable means will neither be tolerated, nor be permitted.”

Facebook said Prasad had raised several important questions and the company appreciates his attention to this matter.

“We will continue to engage with the government on this matter. We are committed to vigorously enforcing our policies to protect peoples’ information and will take whatever steps are required that this happens,” the company said in a statement.

British consultancy Cambridge Analytica has denied media accusations that it improperly accessed millions of Facebook users’ information and said it deleted the data after learning that it did not adhere to data protection rules.

Facebook has said it has tightened its controls on such practices since it discovered the alleged abuses by Cambridge Analytica in 2015.

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Growing mistrust threatens Facebook after data mining scandal

SAN FRANCISCO: As Facebook reels from the scandal over hijacked personal data, a movement to quit the social network gathered momentum on Wednesday, portending threats to one of the most powerful internet firms.

In a sign of the mood, one of those calling it quits was a high-profile co-founder of the WhatsApp messaging service acquired by Facebook in 2014 for $19 billion.

“It is time. #deletefacebook,” Brian Acton said in a tweet, using the hashtag protesting the handling of the crisis by the world’s biggest social network.

The WhatsApp co-founder, who now works at the rival messaging application Signal, posted the comment amid a growing uproar over revelations that Facebook data was harvested by a British political consulting firm linked to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

“Delete and forget. It’s time to care about privacy,” he said.

The huge social network also faces investigations on both sides of the Atlantic over its data practices, and a handful of lawsuits which could turn into class actions that may prove a costly distraction for Facebook.

It remains to be seen whether the uproar would lead to any significant departures, but the topic was active on social media, including on Facebook itself.

Donella Cohen, a Weather Channel product manager, posted on her Facebook page that she would be off the network by midnight.

“The latest revelations are showing just how corrupt and detrimental to society this particular platform is,” she wrote.

“I hope that a new social network emerges. One that isn’t so greedy as to corrupt the political process in the name of the almighty dollar.”

Fabric of internet

Yet analysts noted Facebook is unlikely to fade quickly because of how it is woven into the fabric of the internet, with “like” buttons on websites, comments sections for news articles and an ad network that delivers messages to those who are not Facebook members.

The #deleteFacebook movement “is a social media feedback loop from the public — we saw the same thing with #deleteUber,” said Jennifer Grygiel, a communications professor at Syracuse University.

“Sure, some people will delete Facebook, but to truly delete Facebook would mean that users would need to delete Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger. This is not realistic for most people given how social media has been integrated into everyday life.”

Sandra Proske, head of communications for the Finland-based security firm F-Secure, said it’s not easy to break up with Facebook. “If this (scandal) makes you uncomfortable you can choose to not use the site, of course,” Proske wrote in a blog post.

“But given how intertwined in our lives Facebook and the sites it has acquired, including Instagram and WhatsApp, have become, you may not consider this an option. And for some people and even some countries, Facebook is the internet.”

Proske and others offer suggestions on how Facebook users can improve privacy by limiting what is shared and which apps have access to their data. Several websites offered tips on how to quit Facebook, while noting that the process is more complicated than it appears.

Facebook offers users the option to “deactivate” an account for users who want to take a break and return later, or to “delete” the account and its data entirely. But Facebook noted that some data such as posts on friends’ timelines might remain in the system even after an account is deleted.

And longtime Facebook users could face complications on dealing with log-ins and authorizations to other websites and apps through the social network.

The tech website The Verge published a guide to deletion, advising users to download a copy of all personal data including photos and posts before quitting.

The website noted that it could take up to 90 days to fully delete an account, and that data may be inaccessible during that period.

It was unclear how many users were following through on plans to quit Facebook, which has more than two billion users worldwide.

But Roger McNamee, an early investor in Facebook, said the social network was losing the trust of its users. “The issue is a callous disregard for the privacy rights of users and a lack of care with respect to data that had been entrusted to Facebook,” McNamee told National Public Radio.

“I’m not sure exactly what’s going on here, but I’m afraid there is a systemic problem with the algorithms and the business model of Facebook that allow bad actors to cause harm to innocent users of Facebook.”

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EU unveils digital tax targeting Facebook, Google

BRUSSELS: The EU unveiled on Wednesday proposals for a digital tax that targets US tech giants, heaping more problems on Facebook after revelations over misused data of 50 million users shocked the world.

The special tax is the latest measure by the 28-nation European Union to rein in Silicon Valley giants and could further embitter the bad-tempered trade row pitting the EU against US President Donald Trump.

EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici presented his proposals in Brussels aimed at recovering billions of euros from mainly US multinationals that shift earnings around Europe to pay lower tax rates.

“This current legal vacuum is creating a serious shortfall in the public revenue of our member states,” France’s Moscovici told a press conference in Brussels.

“We estimate this could generate at least five billion euros a year if the tax is imposed at 3 percent.”

EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici holds a news conference at EU’s Commission’s headquarters in Brussels.

Moscovici insisted it was “not an anti-GAFA tax nor an anti-US tax”, referring to the popular acronym for Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon.

The transatlantic blow has been championed by French President Emmanuel Macron and will be discussed over dinner at an EU leaders summit on Thursday.

‘Sale of data’

The unprecedented tech tax follows major anti-trust decisions by the EU that have cost Apple and Google billions and also caught out Amazon.

The EU tax would affect revenue from digital advertising, paid subscriptions and from “sale of data generated from user-provided information”, the European Commission said.

The tax lands as EU agencies are also set to tighten rules on data privacy, targeting tech firms. That file has come to the forefront following revelations that a firm working for Trump’s US presidential campaign harvested data on 50 million users of Facebook.

READ MORE: Facebook under pressure as data breach investigation looms

The EU tax plan will target mainly US companies with worldwide annual turnover above 750 million euros ($924 million), such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, Airbnb and Uber.

Spared are smaller European start-ups that struggle to compete with them.

Brussels is seeking to choke tax-avoidance strategies used by the tech giants that, although legal, deprive EU governments of billions of euros in revenue.

Under EU law, firms like Google and Facebook can choose to book their income in any member state, prompting them to pick low-tax nations like Ireland, the Netherlands or Luxembourg.

‘Populist and flawed’

The European Commission estimates that digital businesses pay an average effective tax rate of just 9.5 percent, compared with the 23.3 percent paid by traditional companies.

These numbers are, however, disputed by the tech giants, which have criticised the tax as a “populist and flawed proposal”.

“The proposed turnover tax aimed at online platforms is discriminatory and ignores the global consensus that the so-called ‘digital economy’ should not be singled out,” said Christian Borggreen of the Computer & Communications Industry Association.

Under the EU plan, revenue from the digital tax would be fairly distributed to where the companies actually operate, according to the level of activity in those countries and not the level of booked profit.

ALSO READ: App developer says he is scapegoat in Facebook data row

The proposal will now be negotiated by the EU member states, where diplomats said there will difficulty in finding agreement with low tax hubs such as Ireland and Luxembourg and given the tensions with the US.

“That the major digital companies are American companies does not exactly simplify matters given the latest developments,” a senior EU diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin last week warned Europe against jeopardising the major contribution tech firms make to US jobs and economic growth.

“The US firmly opposes proposals by any country to single out digital companies,” Mnuchin said.

Moscovici sought to reassure that “these proposals are neither a response to a French request nor a response against the United States”.

The EU has been on tenterhooks amid fears of a global trade war since Trump this month suddenly announced steep duties of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminium.

The EU’s trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem is in Washington this week trying to get the bloc exempted. EU President Donald Tusk on Tuesday said the bloc’s response would be “responsible and reasonable”.

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Successful holding of PSL matches achievement of govt: state minister


ISLAMABAD: The successful holding of Pakistan Super League matches in Pakistan is a great achievement which testifies the prevalence of better law and order situation in the country, said a statement by Minister of State for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb.

The state minister said that the arrival of the international players in Lahore for the revival of sports activities was made possible by the personal interest of Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif which boosted the national spirit.

The minister appreciated the steps taken by the Punjab government to provide foolproof security during the PSL matches, and invaluable efforts by Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Najam Sethi for the revival of cricket in the country.

She said that the spirit and enthusiasm exuded by the citizens who turned up to watch the match was appreciable, and that the people of Lahore staying true to their traditions extended tumultuous welcome to the foreign players who came to participate in the PSL matches and would always cherish the memories.

The minister reiterated that the scourge of terrorism was ebbing away due to the cooperation of the provincial governments and the sacrifices offered by the armed forces of Pakistan adding that the martyrs had lit the lights of peace with their blood.

She said this was as a consequence of the forwarding look, far-sighted and prudent policies pursued by the government the country was galloping on the path of sustained development.

Aurangzeb said that the life in the country had recaptured its usual throbs and peace after emerging from the challenges inherited in 2013 as well as an end to the darkness that engulfed its horizons.

She said that the present government had redeemed all the pledges made in its manifesto whereas the previous government merely relied on hollow slogans.

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Rani Mukerji writes a heartfelt note on her 40th birthday


Rani Mukerji has shared a heartfelt note for fans who wished on her 40th birthday, and also shed light on her two decades long career in Bollywood.

The letter signed in Rani’s name has been shared on the social media by Yash Raj Film. Rani is married to YRF’s head Aditya Chopra.

The first part of the letter has Rani thanking the filmmakers who gave her such roles which helped her carve a niche in the industry. She writes,

“Very rarely do we artists get material that can genuinely cause social change, cause change in attitude and thinking and I have been fortunate enough to get such content multiple times. I truly feel blessed. I thank all the film-makers who have trusted me with their characters. Your characters, your films, became my identity,” she writes.

Rani mentions about the struggles a woman artiste faces in the male-dominated industry. She also highlights the point of marriage and motherhood being the dead end for a female actor.

“As a woman, I must admit, it has not been an easy journey. I had to prove myself every day. Actresses have to prove themselves every day. A woman has a short career span, a married woman’s equity dies, women are not bankable commodities at the box office, ‘female-centric’ (I hate this word!!) films are huge risks, a married actress who is also a mother is the final nail in the coffin of her dreams, ambitions and aspirations – these are some of the discriminatory stereotypes that we have to live with and try to overcome every single day,” she asserted.

Rani has been asking her colleagues about their weaknesses and how they overcame them during the course of their career. However, when it comes to herself, she is unable to ignore how she and her fellow female actors are ignored over their male counterparts.

She writes, “For a woman, the disparity with a man is huge and glaring in this industry. We are judged for our looks, our dancing skills, our height, our voice, our acting, how we carry ourselves every time we step out of the house – we have to be the best and yet we are thought to be extremely dispensable.

“I have been asking my friends to talk about their weaknesses and how they overcame them. On my birthday, I cannot skirt these massive hichkis that my fellow actresses and I have faced/face and will face every day.”

However, Bollywood actresses are challenging the stereotype around their career post marriage by staying active and not letting their personal life hinder their professional growth.

“I have tried to take on this sexist stereotype by coming back to acting after my marriage and motherhood. And I promise you, I will continue working and battling these stereotypes with all my fellow stunning, beautiful, kind and talented actresses and hope to see our society and the film industry mature further. I can already see the changes for the better and it fills me with joy. It makes my journey, my career meaningful. I want to see many more victories for all of us. It’s about time. I will be back soon – to try and entertain you, to push the envelope again. Till then, love you all,” Rani concludes.

Rani has worked in over sixty films, and is gearing to come back with ‘Hichki’ after her marriage and motherhood. She will also be seen in the much-awaited Anand L. Rai movie ‘Zero’ starring Shah Rukh Khan.

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UK either behind poisoning or unable to stop ‘terrorist attack’: Moscow


MOSCOW/LONDON: Moscow on Wednesday said Britain either failed to protect a Russian national from what it termed a “terrorist attack” or was itself behind the poisoning of a former double agent and his daughter in England.

The accusation came as Russia faces huge pressure from Britain and its allies to explain how Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in the city of Salisbury earlier this month with a nerve agent the UK says is Soviet-designed.

The deepening diplomatic crisis has seen Britain throw out 23 Russian diplomats, prompting a tit-for-tat response from Moscow.

“The British authorities are either unable to ensure protection from such a… terrorist attack on its territory, or they directly or indirectly — I am not accusing anyone of anything here — directed the attack on a Russian national,” said Vladimir Yermakov, head of the Russian foreign ministry’s non-proliferation and arms control department.

“There’s no third option here,” he said.

READ MORE: Russia expels 23 British diplomats as crisis over nerve toxin attack deepens

Yermakov made the statement to representatives of foreign diplomatic missions during a briefing held by Moscow to explain Russia’s view on the March 4 poisoning.

The tough-talking official — whose briefing was broadcast live by Russian national television in a rare move — also rejected British claims the chemical weapon Novichok was used in the attack, saying it would have killed people on the spot.

“Any use of a military-grade poison would inevitably lead to numerous casualties immediately on the site of the poisoning,” Yermakov said.

“But the picture in Salisbury is completely different,” he added.

The statement echoed comments by President Vladimir Putin, who has dismissed allegations of Moscow’s responsibility as “nonsense”.

‘Island mentality’

Yermakov also criticised Britain’s “Russophobia”.

“Pull yourselves away a little bit from your Russophobia, your island mentality,” Yermakov said.

“I am ashamed for you,” he said in response to a question from a British official.

He also mocked Britain for insisting that Skripal was attacked with what London says is a Soviet-designed nerve attack.

“This is terminology from British TV shows,” he said.

Britain’s ambassador snubbed the Wednesday briefing, which the Kremlin said showed London’s unwillingness to cooperate.

“Perhaps this is another eloquent demonstration of the absurdity of the situation when questions are being asked but the unwillingness to hear some answers is being shown,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

The European Commission delegation as well as the German and French embassies earlier said they planned to send representatives to the meeting.

‘Principle of reciprocity’

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged the British government to “respond calmly” to the attack on the Skripals, who remain in critical condition.

“If the British government continues taking some anti-Russian measures, we will hit back under the principle of reciprocity,” he said in Japan.

“Overall, there is no doubt that the British leadership has knowingly chosen to undermine the British-Russian relationship.”

ALSO READ: After poisoning, new spotlight on 14 UK deaths


The Russian diplomats and their families — around 80 people in total — arrived back from London late Tuesday.

“We are proud of our country, that we’ve managed to prove our innocence despite all the accusations,” Yekaterina, the wife of one of the diplomats, was quoted as saying.

Britain says only Russia had the capability, motive and intent to be behind the attack.

The EU has expressed its solidarity with Britain and at a summit later this week, its leaders will agree to “coordinate on the consequences” for Russia, according to a draft statement seen by AFP.

However, US President Donald Trump on Tuesday appeared to have ignored the poisoning row when he called to congratulate Putin on his re-election and proposed a summit in the “not-too-distant future”.

On Tuesday, the head of the OPCW chemical watchdog said it would take two to three weeks to complete laboratory analysis of samples taken from the poisoning.

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One of Nepal’s last dancing bears dies after rescue


KATHMANDU: One of Nepal’s last known dancing bears that was recently rescued has died after being transferred to a zoo, an animal rights activist said on Wednesday, blaming the death on “negligence”.

The two sloth bears were rescued in southern Nepal in December last year from a pair of itinerant street performers who used the animals for entertainment.

Shortly after their rescue, the bears — 19-year-old male Rangila and Sridevi, a 17-year-old female — were transferred to a zoo near the capital Kathmandu where they were put in cages on display.

A few weeks later, the female bear died.

“(We) were told that she had some problem in her liver and that it was jaundice,” said Niraj Gautam of Jane Goodall Institute Nepal, who was involved in the rescue of the bears.

“These animals should have been thoroughly checked. There was nothing. That’s the negligence we want to point out.”

Gautam said that the bears should have been given special care and medical attention to help them rehabilitate after years of abuse as performing animals.

The bears were kept in small cages that were not properly cleaned and were displaying behaviours that suggested they were distressed, Gautam added.

“It feels like all our work was in vain,” he said.

The government defended the care the bears have received, saying the zoo is the only facility in Nepal able to house them.

The two sloth bears were rescued in southern Nepal in December last year from a pair of itinerant street performers who used the animals for entertainment.

The Jane Goodall Institute and the World Animal Protection rights group are lobbying Nepal’s government to have the surviving bear transferred to a special sanctuary for rescued dancing bears in neighbouring India, where the tradition of using the animals for entertainment was only finally stamped out in 2012.

“There are legal hurdles in transferring the animal to another country and the zoo is the only facility we have,” said Gopal Prasad Bhattarai, deputy director of Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation.

“The zoo is giving the best care they (are) capable of (giving) to the bear.”

Nepal outlawed the practice of performing bears back in 1973, a year after it was officially banned in India, but the tradition lingered on in parts of the country’s south.

Dancing bears are trained as cubs to dance on their hind legs. Their snouts are pierced with a heated rod so they can be controlled by the tug of a rope or chain.

Dancing bears on the Indian subcontinent date back to the 13th century, when trainers belonging to the Muslim Qalandar tribe enjoyed royal patronage and performed before the rich and powerful.

Sloth bears, a critically endangered species, are found in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bhutan. But shrinking habitats and rampant poaching have reduced their numbers, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

They can grow up to 1.8 metres (six feet) tall and weigh up to 140 kilo (310 pounds).

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CM Sindh establishes foundation for social uplift of Thar


KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah in order to develop coal-rich Tharparkar district on Wednesday approved creation of Thar Foundation to develop social sectors such as education, health, water supply and other amenities. 

The chief minister while presiding over a meeting to review Thar coal projects said that mining and power projects have dramatically transformed the landscape of Thar from one of the most impoverished areas of Pakistan, and have now become a landmark of economic development and prosperity.

He announced that Sindh government will provide a grant of Rs900 million to Thar Foundation for community development and the royalty generated from mining and power generation would also be spent on social uplift in the area.

“Thar foundation would have a master plan for development of social sector,” said CM Sindh said adding that he was keen to see people of Thar reaping the fruits of investment the Sindh government has made along with private partners.

He added that Thar Foundation would work in different areas such as education, health, human resource development, livelihood, infrastructure, drinking water, women empowerment, disaster management, culture and heritage, and youth development.

CM Sindh said that Thar Block-II is the best option for future baseload power plants, and at optimal capacity has the potential to produce electricity at less than 5c/kWh. It was pointed out that the projects being developed at Thar Block-II are compliant with national and international environmental guidelines.

He was informed that since April 2016, Thar coal price has increased by a mere 3.58 percent compared to an increase of more than 65 percent for imported fuels. The total foreign exchange annual savings are up $1.6 billion and $1.2 billion against LNG and imported coal respectively.

He directed Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) chief Shams Shaikh to start development works such as construction of schools, hospitals, water supply schemes through RO plants, and upgrade traditional villages into model villages.

He said that Islamkot should be taken as a model taluka for development works, and that time has come to introduce people of Thar with modern way of living. He called on reopening closed schools, launching new schools, and developing model villages.

The chief minister directed Public Health Engineering Department and Sindh Coal Authority to identify RO plants either working below capacity or have operational issues and hand them over to the Thar Foundation.

CM Sindh also directed concerned departments and SECMC to jointly develop a plan to launch compensation scheme for Gorano affectees.

He was informed that the construction of Islamkot airport has been completed. The SECMC has also completed the construction of a hospital and out of nine, two school buildings are ready, which the chief minister said would be inaugurated in the second week of April.

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LIVE UPATES: Karachi Kings to lock horns with Peshwar Zalmi in second PSL eliminator

LAHORE: Led by pacer Mohammad Amir, Karachi Kings will take on Sammy-led Peshawar Zalmi in the second and final Pakistan Super League (PSL) eliminator here in Lahore on Wednesday.

Peshawar Zalmi beat Quetta by one run in a thrilling first eliminator on Tuesday. Karachi Kings, which lost the playoff against Islamabad United, are having a second chance to get to the final of the league.

The final will take place on March 25 in Karachi’s National Stadium.




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Texas bombing suspect blows self up as police close in, says official


AUSTIN: The 24-year-old man who terrified residents of Austin, Texas, with a three-week bombing campaign that killed two people blew himself up on the side of a highway north of the city as police closed in on him early Wednesday, police officials said.

Police had tracked the suspect to a hotel near Austin, the state’s capital city, and were following his vehicle when he pulled to the side of the road and detonated a device, killing himself, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley told reporters near the scene.

“The suspect is deceased and has significant injuries from a blast that occurred from detonating a bomb inside his vehicle,” Manley told reporters. He said the suspect was white but declined to give his name.

Manley said the suspect was believed to be responsible for six bombs around Austin, including five that detonated, since March 2. He said what motivated the bombing campaign or whether the suspect had help was not yet known.

Most important, Manley warned that it was not clear whether any more bombs had been left in place around the city.

The series of bombings killed two people and injured at least five others, unnerving residents of Austin, a city of some 1 million people. The first bombings occurred as the state capital was hosting the annual South By Southwest music, film and technology festival.

Police found the suspect at a hotel in Round Rock, Texas, about 20 miles (32 km) north of Austin. While officers were waiting for reinforcements to make an arrest, the suspect left the hotel and police followed him.

The suspect pulled off the city’s main highway and two Austin police officers were approaching his vehicle when he set off his device. One officer fired at the vehicle and the other sustained a minor injury when the bomb went off, Manley said.

Police urged residents of the area to treat packages with suspicion during the bombing campaign, and Manley warned residents not to let their guard down yet.

“Everybody needs to remember that this investigation is continuing. We still need people to be vigilant,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler told the local CBS news affiliate early on Wednesday. “We don’t know where the suspect has been the last 24 hours.”

U.S. President Donald Trump on Twitter congratulated police, saying, “Great job by law enforcement and all concerned!”

The first three devices were parcel bombs dropped off in front of homes around Austin neighbourhoods. A fourth went off on Sunday night, apparently detonated with a trip wire, and one exploded inside a FedEx Corp facility on Tuesday.

The series of bombings began on March 2 and bewildered law enforcement officials, who by Sunday began taking the unusual step of publicly calling on the bomber to get in touch and explain why he was carrying out the attacks.

The first two bombs killed black men, raising fears that they were part of a hate crime, but investigators said the later, more random blasts made that less likely.

Manley said investigators still had no clear idea of what prompted the suspect to carry out the bombing.

“We do not understand what motivated him to do what he did,” Manley said.

“We don’t know if he was on his way to deliver another bomb,” Manley said. “He had one with him and that’s what he detonated as we approached.”

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Two women arrested for trespassing, vandalising mosque in US state

PHOENIX, USA: Two women who were arrested last Thursday after breaking into an Arizona mosque yelling derogatory comments while broadcasting the whole episode on Facebook Live have been charged with burglary. 

Tahnee Gonzales, 32, and Elizabeth Dauenhauer, 51, of Tempe, Arizona, appear to have filmed themselves wandering through the mosque last week. The video, which was livestreamed to Facebook, shows two women grabbing pamphlets and ripping down flyers, with at least three children in tow.

They ignored the no trespassing sign while taking things from the mosque and passing derogatory remarks against Islam, which according to the police might be considered as hate speech.

Gonzales and Dauenhauer were arrested several days later and charged with third degree burglary. Tempe Police spokeswoman Lily Duran told reporters the charge could be upgraded to a hate crime. The women were released on bail Friday but ordered to wear electronic monitoring bracelets.

The video was later shared by many users later, records the women and children entering a courtyard.

“Look at this mosque; this ugly mosque, here in our backyard in America,” Ms. Gonzales said in the video, adding, “This is the infiltration of the Arabic Muslim coming in and destroying America.”

When a Muslim man walked out of the mosque Ms. Gonzales shouted: “We’re coming after you, we the people. That’s right; you guys are on your way out.”

The women can be heard yelling derogatory comments about Muslims and Islam which they claim is infiltrating their “nice suburban city”.

The children are yet to be identified but one of them addressed Gonzales as “mom”. All the children can be heard bashing and insulting Islam as well.

Sgt. Ronald Elcock, the spokesman for the Tempe Police Department, said the women were charged with third-degree burglary. If they are convicted and a judge determines it was a hate crime, “it will enhance the sentencing,” he added.

The imam at the mosque, Ahmad Al-Akoum, said “We’re used to this kind of stuff,” he said. “But for somebody to just act so brazen, to come inside somebody else’s property and take things without permission, this is new.”

“As for myself I am very saddened that those women are dragging their young innocent children into this and teaching them to hate,” he said. “Those children are being given false information. I am so sad for them.”

The police have increased patrols in the area and the mosque is considering hiring private security workers.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, which collects data on hate crimes, said anti-Muslim incidents spiked in the first half of 2017. At the time, CAIR coordinator  Zainab Arain attributed some of the rising violence to the election of President Donald Trump.

Gonzales’s Facebook profile shows her posed in front of an American flag with Mr Trump’s face on it, wearing a “Make America Great Again

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“It’s time to #DeleteFacebook,” tweets WhatsApp co-founder

Following the Facebook security breach scandal Brian Acton, the co-founder of WhatsApp, a company now owned by Facebook itself took to Twitter to express his ‘surprising’ thoughts on Facebook

Brian Acton added his voice to Cambridge Analytica backlash, as the company is being investigated for mishandling of data. Facebook’s stock price is down more than 11% since last week wiping almost $50billion off the valuation of the company when it became public knowledge that personal data of tens of millions of Facebook users was being misused.

The tweet caused quite a sensation on social media and #DeleteFacebook campaign started trending on Twitter where several media outlets guide its users on how to permanently delete your Facebook account.

Neither Mark Zuckerberg nor the chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, has made any public statement about the scandal, attracting further criticism over a lack of leadership. Nor were they present at an all-hands meeting for employees at Menlo Park earlier in the day, led by the company’s deputy general counsel, Paul Grewal.

Acton was an engineer and executive at Yahoo before he co-founded WhatsApp in 2009 until Facebook bought the messaging app in 2014, making Acton a multi-billionaire, Acton left the establishment November last year.

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Doctors endorse counseling of young adults to prevent skin cancer

Doctors skin cancer

WASHINGTON: Fair-skinned children and young adults should get counseling on how to avoid sunburns that can lead to skin cancer, according to new guidelines from U.S. physicians.

Counseling should include advice on sunscreen use, protective clothing, hats and sunglasses to protect against harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays and also encourage people to avoid sun exposure during the brightest part of the day as well as indoor tanning, according to recommendations issued today by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).

The new guidelines from the government-backed, independent panel of primary care and preventive health experts also apply to some fair-skinned adults 25 and older who have an increased risk of skin cancer, but they don’t apply to people with darker skin.

“We found evidence demonstrating that counseling increases the likelihood that people will reduce their exposure to the sun, which has been proven to reduce the risk of skin cancer,” said Task Force member Dr. John Epling, Jr. of Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute in Roanoke.

“The overall benefit was greatest in children, teens and young adults who have a fair skin type because UV exposure during childhood and adolescence increases the risk of skin cancer later in life,” Epling said by email.

People with fair skin types may have ivory or pale skin, light hair and eye color, or sunburn easily.

Some evidence suggests that counseling may get people to take sun safety more seriously during childhood and early adulthood, but it’s less clear whether it helps to counsel older people, the Task Force writes in JAMA.

Establishing sun safety early in life is important because sunburns are more dangerous in children and teens, and skin damage early in life increases the risk of skin cancer later on, and because bad habits are hard to break, said Dr. Eleni Linos of the University of California San Francisco, coauthor of an editorial in JAMA Internal Medicine.

“Changing our behaviors, routines and habits is not easy, even if we know these changes could theoretically make us healthier,” Linos said by email.

It’s possible that counseling may encourage more people to perform skin self-exams to help detect any malignancies when they may be smaller and easier to treat, but it’s not clear whether this helps identify skin cancer or whether self-exams make a difference for people who get routine skin cancer screening from a doctor, the Task Force writes.

The trouble with asking all adults to do self-exams is that people may miss abnormalities that need treatment and they may be more likely than doctors to discover something that appears troubling but is actually harmless, said Dr. June Robinson, coauthor of an accompanying editorial in JAMA and a researcher at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

“It may make some people unduly anxious and result in needless skin biopsies,” Robinson said by email.

A better approach is to explain skin exams to people at high risk for melanoma, an aggressive and more lethal form of skin cancer, Robinson said.

“People who need to be trained are melanoma survivors and their family members, and people who had many sunburns,” Robinson said. “Skin self- exam does not replace physician examination but it does help the person to determine when to seek the care of a doctor.”

To be most effective, counseling should also focus on any issues of cost or convenience that might stop people from using sunscreen or taking other precautions in the sun, said David Buller, director of research at Klein Buendel in Golden, Colorado, and coauthor of an accompanying editorial in JAMA Dermatology.

“For sunscreen, specifically, the cost and feel of sunscreen may cause people to apply too little to obtain its full protection benefit, and many people do not reapply it,” Buller said by email.

“Also, people often use sunscreen to extend time outdoors and end up getting substantial doses of UV even if they avoid a sunburn.”

Shaping ideal sun safety habits may work best while kids are still too young to start thinking they need a tan to look good or that sunscreen is unnecessary, said Dr. Laura Ferris of the University of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, author of an editorial in JAMA Oncology.

“We establish health habits in childhood, and making use of sunscreen and general UV protection a habit early in life is likely to impact the degree of UV protection practiced later in life,” Ferris said by email.


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Treason case registered against Hussain Haqqani

Hussain Haqqani

KARACHI: Police on Wednesday registered a treason case against former Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States Hussain Haqqani over his alleged anti-state statements, ARY News reported. 

Haqqani, who is at the center of the Memogate scandal, was booked under Section 120-B, 120-A, 121-A 123-A of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) by the Preedy police.

Advocate Moulvi Iqbal Haider filed a complaint seeking registration of a case against the former diplomat for allegedly committing heinous crimes by endangering the solidarity, integrity, and security of the country.

The complainant stated that Haqqani in a number of interviews to foreign media outlets gave anti-state statements, in which he targeted Pakistan’s security forces.

His statements were meant to weaken the country’s defence and endanger the cause of Kashmir, he claimed, adding that his remarks against the state attracted the relevant sections of the High Treason Act and Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

Earlier, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) registered a case against Haqqani for allegedly embezzling secret funds and misusing his authority during his stint as Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States.

He booked under Section 3, 4, 409, and 109 of Pakistan Penal Code by the agency’s anti-corruption circle.

In 2012, a judicial body had investigated the Memogate scandal and submitted its report to the apex court, holding Haqqani guilty of authoring the explosive memo and termed his acts disloyalty to the country.

Haqqani is alleged to have written a memo to Adm. Mike Mullen, the top US military officer at the time, offering greater government cooperation in return for helping avert possible dismissal of the civilian government in the wake of the May 2 raid which led to the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden.


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App developer says he is scapegoat in Facebook data row


LONDON: The academic behind the app which harvested data from 50 million Facebook users said on Wednesday he was being used as a scapegoat in the row over online privacy.

Aleksandr Kogan said that British firm Cambridge Analytica, which is at the centre of a major scandal rocking Facebook, assured him that what he was doing was “perfectly legal and within the terms of service” of the social media giant.

A former CA employee says the company was able to create psychological profiles on 50 million Facebook users through the use of a personality prediction app that was downloaded by 270,000 people.

It did so by scooping up data from the users’ friends on the social network — as was possible under Facebook’s rules at the time.

Data scientist Aleksandr Kogan said Facebook’s business model of selling users’ data should be examined.

CA has blamed Kogan, the University of Cambridge psychologist who developed the personality survey called This Is Your Digital Life, for misusing the data.

Kogan told the BBC he was “stunned” by the allegations against him.

“The events of the past week have been a total shell shock. My view is that I’m being basically used as a scapegoat by both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica,” he said.

“Honestly, we thought we were acting perfectly appropriately. We thought we were doing something that was really normal.”

He added: “We were assured by Cambridge Analytica that everything was perfectly legal and within the terms of service.”

ALSO READ: You’re the product: Facebook’s business model explained

CA has denied using Facebook data for the Trump campaign and said it had in any case been deleted. Facebook says the data was taken without its knowledge and has launched its own investigation into CA.

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Lionel Messi shown as ‘ISIS captive’ in poster released by terror outfit

Lionel Messi ISIS poster

MOSCOW: A photo of iconic footballer Lionel Messi has been used by global terror outfit Islamic State, also known as ISIS, in a ‘propaganda poster’ that threatens terror at the Russia World Cup 2018.

Published by The Sun, the image is believed to have been released by pro-Isis mouthpiece and is said to be the latest in a series of sick messages aimed at football fans.

In the propaganda poster, Barcelona star Messi is seen kneeling down wearing an orange jumpsuit – similar to those worn by people held captive in ISIS execution videos.

Lionel Messi ISIS poster

A jihadi soldier stands next to him, holding his head up, in the photoshopped image. In the background, the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow is shown.

The newly built arena will host the opening game of the tournament, Russia versus Saudi Arabia as well as the semi-final and final of the World Cup in July.

In text alongside the image, a threat reads: ‘So strike them upon the necks and strike from them every fingertip.’ The official logo for the tournament has been altered to make it look like the world cup and the number eight in 2018 has been damaged.

The poster was shared by online jihadist tracking company SITE Intelligence Group. The terrorist group has made repeated threats against the summer games in Russia in retaliation for airstrikes in Syria that helped bring the terror regime to its knees.

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Boko Haram returns scores of abducted Nigerian schoolgirls

boko haram

LAGOS: Boko Haram militants who kidnapped 110 schoolgirls in Dapchi, northeast Nigeria, just over a month ago have returned 76 of the students to the town, the government said on Wednesday.

Information Minister Lai Mohammed said the release was “unconditional” and the result of “back-channel efforts” with the help of “some friends of the country”, without elaborating.

“The 76 are those who have been documented so far,” he said, adding that they were released at about 3:00 am (0200 GMT) and that a full head-count was under way.

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari said last week the government had “chosen negotiation” to secure the return of the Dapchi girls rather than use military force.

Mohammed said: “For the release to work, the government had a clear understanding that violence and confrontation would not be the way out as it could endanger the lives of the girls, hence a non-violent approach was the preferred option.

“Within the period when the girls were being brought back, (an) operational pause was observed in certain areas to ensure free passage and also that lives were not lost.”

Nigeria’s presidency said separately that the girls were in the custody of the country’s intelligence agency, the Department of State Services.

‘Five died en route’

The Dapchi kidnapping on February 19 brought back painful memories of a similar abduction in Chibok in April 2014, when more than 200 girls were taken.

Aisha Alhaji Deri, a 16-year-old student who was among those kidnapped in Dapchi, told reporters they were not mistreated during their time in captivity.

But she added: “When we were being taken away, five of us died on the way.

“They brought us back this morning, dropped us outside the motor park and said we should all go home and not go to the military because they will claim to have rescued us.”

Parents earlier said the girls were brought back to Dapchi in nine vehicles at about 8:00 am. Some of the students headed to their homes in surrounding villages.

Bashir Manzo, who heads a parents’ support group in Dapchi, said: “These girls were not accompanied by any security personnel.

“Their abductors brought them, dropped them outside the school and left, without talking to anyone.”

Parents in the remote town said the girls had been taken for medical check-ups after their ordeal and that security was tight in the town

Ransom payment?

The Islamic State (IS) group affiliate has not claimed responsibility for the abduction but it is understood that a faction headed by Abu Mus’ab al-Barnawi was behind it.

In August 2015, IS publicly backed Barnawi as leader of Boko Haram, or Islamic State West Africa Province, over Abubakar Shekau, whose supporters carried out the Chibok abduction.

Analysts have attributed a financial motive to the Dapchi kidnapping given government ransom payments made to Boko Haram to secure the release of some of the captives from Chibok.

On Tuesday, Amnesty International claimed that the military ignored repeated warnings about the movements of Boko Haram fighters before the kidnapping.

The military rejected the allegation, calling it an “outright falsehood”.

Similar claims were made about the hours leading up to the Chibok abduction, which brought sustained worldwide attention on the conflict for the first time.

The Chibok abduction also triggered a global campaign for their release, spearheaded by the US former first lady Michelle Obama. There was no similar campaign for the Dapchi girls.

Since May 2016, 107 Chibok girls have escaped, been found or been released as part of a government-brokered deal with the militants..

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Agriculture industry must learn how to use water properly: experts

Agriculture water

BRASILIA: In a world where water risks running short for many, the especially thirsty agricultural industry must learn how to manage the vital resource better, experts said Tuesday.

A day after the United Nations warned that 5.7 billion people could be short of drinking water by 2050, experts said agriculture faces its own threat.

A perfect example of the current management challenge is Brazil itself.

Latin America’s biggest country is one of the world’s principal food producers. That brings big riches, but also huge environmental challenges, including sucking more than half of the water from its rivers and lakes into the agricultural sector.

“We want to reduce this, to develop more efficient crops, to improve production systems and build more efficient equipment,” said Mauricio Lopes, head of Brazil’s agricultural research institute Embrapa.

Technology is helping to transform irrigation, with drones, computerized irrigation systems, data and satellites playing their part, speakers said at the 8th World Water Forum, an international gathering of water experts.

“There is a boom in techniques for water management for economizing this resource and also in the area of (crop) genetics,” Lopes said. “This revolution is already there.”

– Blue water, green water –

Water supplies are divided into what’s known as blue water, like lakes, and green water, or what’s found underground and in woodland.

“It’s important while we’re continuously constrained by water availability to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to use all of those resources more efficiently,” said Claudia Sadoff, director of the International Water Management Institute.

“There will be places where traditional irrigation is essential and can be very efficient, and there are areas where the use of the water that is in our soils in our biomasses would be more efficient. I think we need to give much more attention to it.”

Lopes stressed that Brazil, the country with the world’s greatest biodiversity and nearly 18 percent of all drinking water, also has native vegetation covering two thirds of its territory.

“It’s very important to discuss the link between water, nature and food. Brazil is extremely diverse, with six biomasses and very fragile zones. To maintain these riches, you need water,” he said.

Brazil’s agricultural sector is frequently accused of devastating the country’s environment, but a leading representative told the water forum that this was a myth.

“We want to prove that rural producers take care of water better than anyone else, because in the end, if they ruin the water sources, then they destroy their own wealth,” said Joao Marins, head of the Agriculture and Fishing Confederation, as he presented a new irrigation system.

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LHC de-seats MPA Masroor Nawaz Jhangvi

Masroor Nawaz Jhangvi

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday disqualified Masroor Nawaz Jhangvi as a member of Punjab Assembly, ARY News reported.  

This verdict came on a petition calling for disqualification of Jhangvi, elected on the provincial assembly seat in Jhang (PP-78), over alleged involvement in a number of cases.

Jhangvi had won the PP-78 by-election in 2016.

Petitioner Muzaffar Abbas contended that six cases were registered against the lawmaker, son of assassinated Haq Nawaz Jhangvi, founder of the banned Sipah-i-Sahaba.

It merits mention here that an outlawed terrorist outfit, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, was named after Masroor’s father.

Jhangvi also figured on a list of people suspected of militant ties under the Fourth Schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997.

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Govt, opposition have begun consultations for caretaker setup: minister

Interior Minister caretaker

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal has said the government and the opposition have begun the process of consultations to reach a consensus on the names of a caretaker setup for the upcoming general elections scheduled this year.    

While talking to the media in the federal capital on Wednesday, the minister expressed confidence that the opposition will agree to the best possible names having strong and unwavering democratic credentials and who could ensure timely elections.

Responding to a question, he said the decision regarding putting the names of people on the Exit Control List will be taken by the cabinet.

Earlier, Ameer Jamaat e Islami (JI) Pakistan Siraj ul Haq suggested making nuclear physicist and founder of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb project Abdul Qadeer Khan caretaker prime minister.

Opposition leader in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah had earlier said that he would make every effort to nominate a capable person who could run day-to-day affairs of the government and ensure free and fair elections in the country.

Under the Country’s constitution,  the prime minister and the opposition leader are required to appoint a caretaker government after consultations.


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Saudi Arabia says revamping education to combat ‘extremist ideologies’

Saudi crown prince

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is revamping its education curriculum to eradicate any trace of Muslim Brotherhood influence and will dismiss anyone working in the sector who sympathizes with the banned group, the education minister said. 

Promoting a more moderate form of Islam is one of the promises made by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman under plans to modernize the deeply conservative Muslim kingdom.

The education ministry is working to “combat extremist ideologies by reviewing school curricula and books to ensure they do not reflect the banned Muslim Brotherhood’s agenda,” al-Isa said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

It would “ban such books from schools and universities and remove those who sympathize with the group or its ideology from their posts,” he added.

In September, a large Saudi public university announced it would dismiss employees suspected of ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, adding to concerns that the government is clamping down on its critics in academia and beyond.

Earlier this month, Crown Prince Mohammed told CBS in an interview that Saudi schools have been “invaded” by elements of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been designated by Saudi Arabia as a terrorist organization along with other militant groups such as al Qaeda and Islamic State.


The young crown prince has already taken some steps to loosen Saudi Arabia’s ultra-strict social restrictions, scaling back the role of religious morality police, permitting public concerts and announcing plans to allow women to drive.

The ruling Al Saud family has always regarded Islamist groups as a major internal threat to its rule over a country where appeals to religious sentiment resonate deeply and an al Qaeda campaign a decade ago killed hundreds.

Since the kingdom’s founding, the Al Saud have enjoyed a close alliance with clerics of the ultra-conservative Wahhabi school of Islam who have espoused a political philosophy that demands obedience to the ruler.

By contrast the Brotherhood advances an active political doctrine urging revolutionary action.

A political Islamist organization founded in Egypt nearly a century ago, the Muslim Brotherhood says it is committed to peaceful activism and reform through elections, and its adherents span the region, holding elected office in Arab countries from Tunisia to Jordan.

Brotherhood members fleeing repression in Egypt, Syria and Iraq half a century ago took shelter in Saudi Arabia, some taking up roles in the kingdom’s education system and helping to establish the Sahwa or “Awakening” movement which agitated in the 1990s for democracy.

The Sahwa mostly fizzled, with some activists arrested and others coaxed into conformity, though admirers and its appeal lingered.

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Suicide bombing near Kabul university kills 26

Suicide bombing Kabul

KABUL: A suicide bomber on Wednesday killed at least 26 people, many of them teenagers, in front of Kabul University, officials said, as Afghans took to the streets to celebrate the Persian new year holiday.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the deadly attack — the fifth suicide bombing in the Afghan capital in recent weeks.

Another 18 people were wounded in the blast, interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said, “all of them civilians”.

A suicide attacker on foot detonated himself in front of a hospital, Rahimi said. The hospital is opposite Kabul University.

The bomber was less than 200 metres from Karte Sakhi shrine where many Afghans gather every year to mark Nawrooz, which is the traditional Persian new year holiday.

The same shrine was attacked in October 2016 when Islamic State gunmen killed 18 people gathered to mark Ashura, an important date for many Muslims, especially Shiites.

A man who was standing metres from where the explosion happened told Tolo News that he saw “at least four bodies in blood” on the ground.

The blast comes days after a Taliban suicide attacker blew up a bomb-laden car in the Afghan captial, causing multiple casualties.

The Taliban faces growing pressure to take up a recent offer by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani of peace talks to end the 16-year war. So far it has given only a muted response.

This latest suicide attack underscores the growing challenge facing Afghan and foreign forces to protect the already heavily militarised city.

Authorities had increased security ahead of Nawrooz festivities, which militants have previously struck with deadly force.

General John Nicholson, who leads US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, recently told reporters that protecting Kabul was a priority for foreign troops.

“Kabul is our main effort right now, to harden Kabul, to protect the people of Kabul and the international community that are here because of the strategic impact that has and the importance to the campaign,” Nicholson said.

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Amir to captain Karachi Kings in do-or-die match against Zalmi

Muhammad Amir Karachi Kings

LAHORE: With injury-stricken Shahid Afridi and Imad Wasim dropped out of the key Pakistan Super League match today (Wednesday), Muhammad Amir has been named as the stand-in captain to lead the side against Peshawar Zalmi.

Shahid Afridi will miss the PSL eliminator against Zalmi after his knee injury aggravated, while Imad Wasim (the Kings skipper) had suffered a mild concussion after he injured himself while running backwards from mid off to take a catch in a match against Lahore Qalandars on March 11.

Since then, he (Imad) is not playing and has been advised rest by the doctors.

Under the unavailability of Shahid Afridi and Eoin Morgan, Karachi Kings have got permission from the Pakistan Cricket Board to include Twenty20 specialist Mukhtar Ahmed for today’s game as well as spinner Zulfiqar Babar and Karachi youngster Danish Aziz.

Karachi Kings are also pinning hopes that their batsmen Babar Azam and Khurram Manzoor return to form after failing in the last game against Islamabad United while bowlers Mohammad Amir and Usman Shinwari had given them crucial wickets.

Zalmi had ousted Karachi Kings from the second eliminator on their way to the final last year and have also beaten them in the reverse match after losing the first game. They lead head to head with 5-4.

The triumphant of today’s match will face Islamabad United in the final in Karachi on March 25.

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Preparations to mark 71st Pakistan Day in full swing

ISLAMABAD: Elaborate preparations are underway to mark the 71st Pakistan Day with national fervor on Friday.

Troopers from Pakistan Army, Pakistan Navy, Pakistan Air Force, Northern Light Infantry, Mujahid Force, Islamabad Police, Tri-Services Lady officers, Tri-Services Armed Forces Nursing Service, Girl Guides, Boy Scouts, Special Service Group are participating in rehearsals for the spectacular parade at Shakarparian parade ground.

The traffic police have drawn an alternative traffic plan for the day. Heavy traffic has been barred from entering the federal capital from the midnight of March 21 till 2:00 pm on March 23.

The Islamabad Expressway will also remain closed for all traffic between 2:00 pm and 5:00 pm on the day. Pillion riding has been banned in the federal capital for three days starting from March 21.

The timings for arrival and departure of flights at Islamabad airport has been revised to enable Pakistan Air Force jets to rehearse for the parade.

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) spokesperson said Islamabad’s airspace will remain closed from 8:00 am to 12:40 pm and 2:30 pm to 4:00 pm for the parade event.

The spectators have been advised to bring their original National Identity Cards.

The Pakistan Day is annually celebrated on March 23 to commemorate the Lahore Resolution and Pakistan’s first constitution.

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G20 agrees to keep ‘watchful eye’ on cryptocurrencies

G20 cryptocurrencies

BUENOS AIRES: Financial policymakers from the world’s top 20 economies agreed to keep a watchful eye on cryptocurrencies on Tuesday and opened the door to regulating the booming industry at a later stage.

Wild swings in the price of Bitcoin, the best known of a myriad of digital currencies issued by private companies, and fears they may be used for evading taxes, launder money, finance terrorism or just scam small investors have raised calls for concerted actions by global regulators.

Finance ministers and central bankers from the world’s 20 largest economies meeting in Buenos Aires asked regulators to monitor these “crypto assets”.

“We call on international standard-setting bodies (SSBs) to continue their monitoring of crypto-assets and their risks, according to their mandates, and assess multilateral responses as needed,” G20 leaders said in the communique.

They also welcomed new standards to be proposed by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a 37-nation group set up in Paris by the G7 industrial powers to fight financial crime.

One reason for the G20’s inaction is that they see cryptocurrencies as too small to jeopardize financial markets. Their combined market value was, at its peak, less than one percent of the world’s economy, as the chair of the Financial Stability Board Mark Carney told the G20 in a letter.

But Argentina’s central bank governor Federico Sturzenegger said there had been demand at the summit to come up with specific recommendations at the G20’s next gathering in July.

And Italy’s central bank governor Ignazio Visco said he eventually expected the group of financial leaders to task global market regulator, the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO), to come up with standards.

Before any concrete action can come through, however, policymakers will have to overcome their differences.

France has proposed taking specific steps, such as banning deposits and loans in such currencies and the marketing of investments based on them to the general public.

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Video of gorilla walking like a human goes viral

gorilla walking like human video

A gorilla, identified as ‘Louis’, has become an overnight internet sensation after a video showing him walking on two legs, just like humans.

The video was shared by Philadelphia Zoo and an explanation was also provided. “Although gorillas occasionally walk on two legs (bipedal), it is less common. Not for Louis though – he can often be seen walking bipedal when his hands are full of snack or when the ground is muddy (so he doesn’t get his hands dirty)!” read the caption.

It started in early March, when zookeepers filmed Louis standing on two legs, like a human, strutting from one side of his enclosure to another. In his hands, he clutched a few small, red-orange blobs.

In the caption for the eight-second video (titled “Snacking on the Run”), the zoo explained that, although it isn’t common for gorillas to walk on two legs, Louis had made a habit out of doing so regularly.

“He can often be seen walking bipedal when his hands are full of snack or when the ground is muddy (so he doesn’t get his hands dirty)!” the zoo wrote.

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Israel defence minister says 2007 Syria strike message to enemies

Israel Syria

JERUSALEM: Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Wednesday a 2007 strike on a suspected Syrian nuclear reactor was a message to his country’s enemies, after the military acknowledged the raid for the first time.

“The motivation of our enemies has increased in recent years, but the strength of our army, our air force and our intelligence capabilities have increased compared with the capabilities we had in 2007,” Lieberman said in a statement.

“This equation should be taken into account by everyone in the Middle East.”

Earlier Wednesday, Israel’s military formally admitted carrying out the top-secret raid and released newly declassified material related to the operation.

The admission comes as Israel intensifies its warnings over the presence of its main enemy Iran in neighbouring Syria.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also repeatedly called for the nuclear deal between world powers and Iran to be changed or eliminated.

Netanyahu recently warned that Israel will “never let Iran develop nuclear weapons.”

The 2007 strike occurred at a desert site in the Deir Ezzor region of eastern Syria on what Israel says was a nuclear reactor under construction.

It had long been widely assumed that Israel carried out the strike. Syria has denied it was building a nuclear reactor.

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PSL Eliminator 2: Peshawar in between Karachi Kings and home final

PSL eliminator 2

LAHORE: Karachi Kings target a home city final in the Pakistan Super League but to achieve that goal they need to beat title holders and spirited team Peshawar Zalmi in the second eliminator in Lahore on Wednesday.

Zalmi were facing ouster from the league as they needed to win their last two games, a task they admirably achieved in United Arab Emirates and when the tournament shifted to Lahore they beat Quetta Gladiators by a mere one run in a repeat of last year’s final.

Under Darren Sammy, Peshawar Zalmi have looked a fighting unit with their pace attack comprising of Wahab Riaz, Hasan Ali, Umaid Asif and Sameen Gul in good wicket taking form while Kamran Akmal leading the batting chart with 347 runs in the tournament.

Karachi Kings have their problems through injuries with their inspirational all-rounder Shahid Afridi out of the match with a sore knee which aggravated during team’s eight wicket defeat in the first qualifier on Sunday.

Skipper Imad Wasim is likely to play in the knock-out game as he has recovered from the head injury sustained in Dubai last week. His replacement as skipper Eoin Morgan opted not to tour Pakistan due to personal reason.

Karachi Kings have got permission from Pakistan Cricket Board to include Twenty20 specialist Mukhtar Ahmed for Wednesday’s game as well as spinner Zulfiqar Babar and Karachi youngster Danish Aziz.

Karachi Kings will also hope their batsmen Babar Azam and Khurram Manzoor return to form after failing in the last game against Islamabad United while bowlers Mohammad Amir and Usman Shinwari given them crucial wickets.

Zalmi last year ousted Karachi Kings from the second eliminator on their way to the final last year and have also beaten them in the reverse match after losing the first game. They lead the head to head 5-4.

But Karachi Kings will be lucky in case the weather forecast of heavy rain on Wednesday evening comes true as in case of rained off match Karachi Kings will qualify for the final against Islamabad United in Karachi on Sunday.

Peshawar spearhead Wahab Riaz admitted Karachi Kings can come hard on Zalmi.

“Karachi is a balanced team and their bowling attack is also very strong so we have to be at our best to beat them,” said Riaz. “We have the momentum as we have now won three matches in a row so we will be up for the task.”

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Indian music company removes Atif Aslam’s name from his own song

Atif Aslam

Indian government’s ban on Pakistani artist took a drastic turn on Tuesday when an Indian music company T-series apparently ‘forgot’ to list Atif Aslam’s name under his own song on YouTube.

The singer’s name was missing from the credits of the song where even the recording studio in Dubai was given credit.

The crooner gave his vocals for a song in the upcoming Bollywood film Baaghi 2 which features Tiger Shroff and Disha Patani in lead roles.

The song, which is titled O Saathi, was released recently had no mention of the singer’s name.

The song become immensely popular as it was searched by 22 million music lovers in a just a few days of its release and has 27 million views on YouTube in one week.

Following the episode, Atif reportedly refused to promote his other song “Sehmi Hai Dhadkan” which he had sung for another Bollywood movie Daas Dev, according to film producer Sanjeev Kumar.

Kumar in a statement to the press said “Atif said he will do it, but it hasn’t been done. I’m not sure why he isn’t taking part in the activity, but, as a producer, I see that work promised hasn’t been executed,….we needed Atif for this song. He has 20 million followers on social media. Imagine the kind of traction we would have got had he promoted it.”

Earlier this month, politician Babul Supriyo had asked for a ban on Pakistani artistes working in the Hindi film industry.

Responding to this Kumar said, “Normally, such statements (against Pakistani Artist) are made by fringe groups. When a minister says it, it leaves an impact on more people.

Daas Dev is scheduled to hit the screens on March 23.

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Naqeeb case: Fugitive Rao Anwar finally surrenders to Supreme Court

Rao Anwar

ISLAMABAD: Absconding former SSP Malir Rao Anwar, the main suspect behind the murder of an aspiring fashion model from South Waziristan, on Wednesday surrendered to the Supreme Court, ARY News reported.

Anwar, accompanied by an anti-terrorist squad, drove to the apex court’s main gate in a white car. He was wearing a mask as he alighted from the vehicle at the entrance to the court.

On January 20, Inspector General of Police Sindh Allah Dino Khowaja suspended Anwar from his post on the recommendations of a three-member committee formed to investigate the killing of 27-year-old Naqeebullah Mehsud in a fake shootout.

On January 13, Rao Anwar had claimed to have shot dead four members of the defunct Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in an encounter near Shah Latif Town in Karachi.

Family members of one of the killed terror suspects, Naqeebullah Mehsud, claimed that he was killed in a fake encounter, triggering widespread public outrage.

On March 19,  a bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar warned that if anyone found involved in providing shelter to Rao Anwar will not go unpunished.

Inspector General of Sindh police Allah Dino Khowaja told the judges that he was ready to give an in-camera briefing on the movement of the police officer captured by CCTV cameras at Karachi and Islamabad airports.

To a query, Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan said two bank accounts of Rao Anwar had been sealed and that he couldn’t draw salaries from them.

The chief justice said if the fugitive police officer surrenders before the apex court, it will provide him protection.

At the previous hearing on Friday, the bench had given IG Sindh another deadline to find and arrest Rao Anwar till Monday.

He informed that he had acquired CCTV footage of the movement of Rao Anwar at Islamabad and Karachi airports, but needed some time to examine it.

He sought more time to arrest the absconding police officer, saying he expected headway in the case in the next two to three days.

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US military won’t enter Pakistan in ‘hot pursuit’, says Pentagon

US troops hot pursuit Pakistan

WASHINGTON: The United States has ruled out any ‘plan’ to cross the international border in chasing the Taliban or any other terrorist group who flee Afghanistan (through Pakistan).

“To be clear, US military authorities are within the borders of Afghanistan only. We have no authority to go into Pakistan. If there is a way to get that authority, but that would certainly be the exception and not the norm,” Afghan news agency Pajhwok cited spokesperson for the Department of Defense as saying.

Lt. Col. Mike Andrews reportedly told the wire service: “Say, for example, we have troops in contact and then the Taliban forces go across the border. They are clearly inside Pakistan then. There’s no change with regards to respecting the territorial sovereignty of Pakistan.”

He reiterated they would not be going into Pakistan — there could be exceptions to that. It was not going to be normal day-to-day operational rules of engagement that US commanders on the ground knew, the spokesperson added.

Getting back the provinces that the Taliban claimed or contested would be the focus of the Afghan forces this year, he said, adding there was enough work to be done inside Afghanistan to reduce their influence and to provide more security and stability to Afghans.

“And what happens in Pakistan, we can’t have any control on that. I certainly think that in the east, in the southeast, we have more, whether it’s close air support, intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance. We have certainly put more combat enablers there to limit the effect of those groups.

“But that’s something within Pakistan, that’s something the nation of Pakistan has got to resolve. Now we’re going to stay focused on Afghanistan,” Andrews said in response to a question.

The US expected Pakistan to take steps to ensure there were no sanctuaries where Taliban or other terrorist organisations could reside and where they felt, he said. “That’s something that Pakistan is going to have to do.”

Col Andrews also said that the US would not resume its security aid to Pakistan until Islamabad addresses Washington’s concerns over alleged terrorist safe havens within its borders.


Andrews said the focus of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ trip to Afghanistan last week was to review progress on the South Asia Policy and see the preparedness of the Afghan security forces for the upcoming fighting season.

“We are hopeful Pakistan will take action because not only do we feel it is going to serve Afghanistan, but it’s going to help protect Pakistan, India and the entire region,” he pointed out.

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Nawaz says people inside and outside courts questioning disqualification verdict

Nawaz Sharif

ISLAMABAD: Former premier Nawaz Sharif says he respects state institutions, including the judiciary.

Speaking to journalists on the premises of the accountability court hearing graft cases against him, Sharif lamented what he said the double-standards of courts.

He said the verdict that dislodged him from the office of the prime minister was unfair in his eyes and those of the nation.

Slamming the apex court, he said the judges relied on “Black Law Dictionary” to oust him.

The PML-N supreme leader said even his arch-rival Imran Khan declared the decision weak and that people inside and outside courts had begun to question the verdict.

Quoting a Supreme Court judge, he said even the judge acknowledged that the Panama case involved the ruling family’s London properties, but he was disqualified for holding an Iqama (UAE work permit).

Sharif said the verdicts the apex court gave in other cases were also evident to the people. Imran Khan admitted to having established an offshore company, yet he was declared honest and trustworthy, he added.

He said PTI leader Jahangir Tareen was disqualified but no JIT at par with that constituted in his case was formed.

There must not be double-standards, he said, claiming that those who ousted him for holding the Iqama prepared the corruption references against him.

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Egypt court stops Uber and Careem from operating in country

Egypt court Uber Careem


CAIRO: An Egyptian court on Tuesday ordered authorities to revoke the operating licenses of the Uber and Careem ride-hailing services and block their mobile apps and software.

The two services had sparked protests by taxi drivers who complained that their drivers were not required to pay the hefty fees to operate transportation vehicles.

The administrative court in Cairo ruled that it is illegal to use private vehicles as taxis.

Both companies provide smartphone applications that connect passengers with drivers who work as independent contractors.

In a brief statement posted on its Facebook account, Careem said it “hasn’t been notified officially to stop its operations” and was operating normally.

Uber was founded in 2010 in San Francisco, and operates in more than 600 cities across the world. Careem was founded in 2012 in Dubai, and operates in 90 cities in the Middle East and North Africa, Turkey, and Pakistan.

Egypt court Uber Careem

The applications took off in Cairo, a city of 20 million people with near-constant traffic and little parking. The services have recently started offering rides on scooters and tuk-tuks, three-wheeled motorized vehicles that can sometimes squeeze through the gridlock.

The apps are especially popular among women, who face rampant sexual harassment in Egypt, including from some taxi drivers. Cairo’s taxi drivers are also notorious for tampering with their meters or pretending the meters are broken in order to charge higher rates.

In 2016, taxi drivers protested the ride-hailing apps. They have complained that Uber and Careem drivers have an unfair advantage because they do not have to pay the same taxes or fees, or follow the same licensing procedures.

The court accepted a petition by a lawyer demanding the government stop licensing Uber and Careem activities in Egypt, including their online applications, state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram reported on its website.

The lawyer representing taxi drivers, Khaled al-Gamal, told a French wire service that the ruling would have to be implemented by the government even if Careem and Uber appeal.

“They have to stop operations and block their mobile applications on the internet,” he said.

But both companies said their operations have not been officially suspended.

Uber Egypt’s general manager Abdellatif Waked said: “We respect the rulings of the Egyptian judiciary.” But the company would appeal “and continue to be available in Egypt”.

“It is important to clarify that today’s verdict does not mean suspending the operations of Uber in Egypt,” Waked said, adding the firm could not comment on “ongoing legal proceedings”.

Many Egyptians who complain about taxi services, including drivers who refuse to turn on their meters or their air conditioning during the summer heat, had switched to the ride sharing apps.


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Gladiators coach blames average umpiring, poor shots for team’s defeat

Quetta Gladiators defeat Moin Khan

LAHORE: A straightforward Quetta Gladiators head coach Moin Khan blamed average umpiring and poor shot selection for his team’s narrow one-run defeat in the first eliminator against Peshawar Zalmi in Lahore on Tuesday.

But Quetta went down fighting off the last ball with 25 needed in the last over with Anwar Ali smacking three sixes and a boundary to bring the target down to three off the last delivery. Anwar’s drop catch at long on ended in Mir Hamza bring run out at the non striker’s end as the batsmen tried to take a second run.

Quetta were recovered by Sarfraz Ahmed (35) and Mohammad Nawaz (35) during their 63-run third wicket stand but both fell off successive Sameen Gul delivery while Thisara Perera was caught at long-off by substitute fielder Chris Jordan.

“For me the turning point was two wickets falling in the same over,” said Moin of Sarfraz and Nawaz’s wickets. “Then I would say average umpiring with four substitute fielders on the field so an umpire like Aleem Dar should have noticed that.

“Jordan took that important catch and had there been an injured player there it would have been different, so I would say that it was average umpiring. How four substitute fielders can be on?”

Moin praised Anwar for his aggressive batting.

“Anwar played well and that should have been two runs,” said Moin of the last ball drama. “Had Hamza been ready it would have ended in a super over. We were behind in the last five overs with five being scored in each of them, had it been we would have reached the target before.”

Moin lamented some overseas players did not come to Pakistan even after commitment.

“Shane Watson did not come even after commitment,” said Moin of his key Australian all-rounder. “Kevin Pietersen had said before the event that he will not come and it was he who took us to the final last year.”

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