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Chinese Vice Premier to attend PyeongChang Olympics' closing ceremony
Beijing, Feb 19: Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong will attend the upcoming closing ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics as the President's envoy, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced on Monday.  Liu had previously served as vice president of the Beijing 2008 Olympics Organising Committee and is the official responsible for the portfolios of sports, culture and health in the Chinese administration, Efe news reported.  In next Sunday's closing ceremony, PyeongChang is set to hand over the Olympic relay torch to Beijing, which will be hosting the 2022 Winter Games.  So far, China has won five silver and a bronze in PyeongChang, an event that is seen back home as the ideal platform for Chinese athletes to prepare for the 2022 edition of the Games.  --(IANS)




Oli to be appointed Nepal PM
Kathmandu, Feb 15:  Chairman of the CPN-UML K.P. Oli will become the 41st Prime Minister of Nepal with incumbent Sher Bhahadur Deuba set to resign from the post on Thursday.  Deuba is going to announce his resignation during a national address and  submit his resignation to President Bidhya Devi Bhandari.   His resignation comes 69 days after the Federal and Provincial elections ended.   Deuba, who was elected Prime Minister in 2017, held three successful elections -- local, provincial and federal assemblies.  Oli being the leader of the largest party in the Federal Parliament, with the support of Communist Party of Nepal (CPN Maoist Centre) will take over from Deuba.   Earlier on Thursday, Oli, along with Chairman of the Maoist Center Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, met Bhandari, as the former claimed the top executive post on the basis of majority votes, the President Office said.   Oli will have to prove his majorit...




Florida high school shooting kills 17
Washington, Feb 15: At least 17 people were killed and several others were injured in a school shooting on Wednesday in the US state of Florida.   Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel told the press that 12 were killed in the school building, two were killed outside the building, one on a road nearby and two died in hospital from wounds.  The shooting occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, which was voted Florida's safest city last year, CNN reported.  The school said the incident took place as the school was dismissing students.  The shooter was identified as Nikolaus Cruz, a 19-year-old expelled student at the school. He was captured shortly after the shooting. An AR-15 semi-automatic rifle was found at the site.  The Police reportedly captured the suspect about 1.6 kilometres from the school.  Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump said, "My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of ...




Indian-origin man on death row in Singapore set free
Singapore, Feb 13: A Malaysia-based Indian-origin man, on death row for drug possession in Singapore, has been acquitted by the country's Supreme Court.  According to the judgment released on Tuesday, 32-year-old Gopu Jaya Raman proved that he did not know that controlled drugs were hidden in the bike that he rode into Singapore in 2014, the Straits Times reported.  Earlier, he had contested the High Court's judgment for not giving "due weight to evidence" showing that he did not know about the drugs.  On March 24, 2014, Raman was found trying to enter Singapore from Malaysia through Woodlands Checkpoint with three black bundles of the illicit substance diamorphine hidden in his bike's fender.  During a routine check, the police found the substance and Raman was arrested. He told police officials that he entered Singapore to meet his girlfriend along with another friend.  Raman said he wasn't aware about the drugs and the bike...




Ties with US at risk of breaking down: Turkey
Istanbul, Feb 12:  Relations between Turkey and the US, strained by American support for the Syrian Democratic Forces, are close to breaking down, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday.  Declaring bilateral ties at a "critical point", Cavusoglu said: "We will either fix the ties or they will break down completely."  Speaking to the press in Istanbul following a meeting with African leaders, he said Washington had made several mistakes in handling its relationship with Ankara, including giving support to the Kurdish militia in Syria known as the People's Protection Units (YPG).  "We want concrete steps (from the US). The missing trust needs to be restored. The reason for that missing trust is the US," Cavusoglu was quoted as saying by the Hurriyet Daily News.  "The US is not touching ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) members in Syria as an excuse to continue working with the YPG/...




Russian plane crash kills all 71 on board
Moscow, Feb 11:  A Russian passenger plane with 71 passengers and crew on board crashed in Moscow region on Sunday, killing everyone on board, state news agency Tass reported.  Russia's Emergencies Ministry confirmed the crash of the An-148 plane shortly after it took off from Moscow's Domodedovo airport.  "Fragments of the An-148 and several bodies have been found near the village of Stepanovskoye," a Ministry spokesman told Tass.  Radio contact with the Saratov Airlines plane was lost several minutes after the take-off, the Air Transport Agency (Rosaviatsiya) said.  "The Saratov Airlines plane (flight 730 from Moscow to Orsk) took off at 14.21 Moscow time. According to preliminary data, there were 65 passengers and six crew members aboard the plane.  "Radio contact with the plane was lost several minutes after the take-off and the plane went out of the radars. In happened in Moscow region's Ramensky district,&...




British Foreign Secretary meets Suu Kyi
Nay Pyi Taw, Feb 11:  British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Sunday met his Myanmar counterpart and de facto leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi here, a day after his visit to refugee camps in east Bangladesh sheltering around 690,000 Rohingya refugees.  In a statement ahead of the visit, the British Foreign Secretary said he would be "talking to State Counsellor Suu Kyi and other regional leaders about how we can work together to resolve this appalling crisis", reports Efe news.  On Saturday, Johnson visited Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh to hear first hand accounts of suffering by the members of the mostly Muslim minority at the hands of Myanmar security forces.  He described the current situation as "one of the most shocking humanitarian disasters of our time" and said his aim was to achieve a "safe, dignified return" for the Rohingya refugees.  Human rights organisations have documented widespread abuse by the Myanmar A...




India-Myanmar border sealed
Imphal, Feb 8: The Indo-Myanmar border was sealed on Thursday after a major fire broke out late last night just across the international gate in Myanmar.  Police in Moreh in Manipur said that the fire broke out at the Namphalong market around 9 p.m. The market complex has been indefinitely closed down, a district official said.  People rushed out and sprinkled water on their houses and shops fearing the raging inferno might spread over to the Indian side.   Namphalong is the main market for the legalised border trade. It took several hours to douse the flames.   However, no casualty has been reported. Over 30 shops and business establishments were gutted, Namphalong officials said.  The shops mostly stockpile expensive foreign goods brought from China, Japan and some other Southeast Asian countries. The loss was believed to be huge.   The cause of the fire was not yet known.  Business was shifted from ...




Pakistan raises Kashmir in UNSC, asks for review of 1948 resolution
 United Nations, Feb 7:  Pakistan has brought up the Kashmir issue in the Security Council, accusing it of "selective implementation" of its resolutions.  "Nothing undermines the credibility of the Council more than selective implementation of its resolutions," Pakistan's Permanent Representative Maleeha Lodhi said on Tuesday during a session on its working methods.  "The Council should therefore periodically review implementation of its resolutions, especially on longstanding issues like the Jammu and Kashmir dispute," she added. "Failure to enforce its own resolutions undercuts not just the Council's standing in the world, but the UN as well."  Her reference was to a 1948 Council resolution that called for a plebiscite to determine the future of Kashmir, while also demanding the withdrawal of Pakistani "tribesmen" who entered the state.  India has said that the "tribesmen" we...




China hopes Maldives can itself resolve crisis, raises travel alert level
Beijing, Feb 6: China on Tuesday expressed hope that the Maldivian government and the opposition parties have the wisdom to resolve the political crisis on their own.   At the same time, it also raised the level of travel alert it issued on Monday, asking its citizens to cancel their plans to go to the Maldives during the spring festival holidays beginning from next week.  The Indian Ocean archipelago nation has plunged into crisis, with the government led by President Abdulla Yameen imposing a state of emergency for 15 days and arresting Supreme Court judges who ordered the release of leaders of the main opposition party.  The Army has also arrested former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. Gayoom, an estranged half-brother of Yameen, has sided with the opposition led-by former President Mohammad Nasheed, who is living in exile.  China, which did not even have its embassy in the Maldives until 2011, has expanded interests in the nation strateg...




426 incidents of transgression by Chinese soldiers in 2017
New Delhi, Feb 5:  There were 426 incidents of transgression by Chinese soldiers in Indian territory in 2017, which also saw a one of its kind 73-day-long stand-off between Indian and Chinese soldiers in the Sikkim sector, than the number of such incidents in the previous year, Parliament was told on Monday.  "In the year 2017, the number of transgressions were 426 as against 273 in the year 2016," Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply, adding that the transgressions took place due to different interpretations of the border.  "As India-China border has not been formally demarcated, there are areas where both sides have different perception of Line of Actual Control (LAC) and both sides patrol up to their respective perceptions. Due to this, temporary transgressions have occurred.  "AOn account of this, situations have arisen on the ground that could have been avoided if we had a common...




Pakistan minister shot wife, then killed himself: Police
Islamabad, Feb 2:  Pakistani provincial minister Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani, who was found dead in his house along with his wife, first killed her and then committed suicide with the same weapon, the police said on Friday. Bijarani and his wife Fariha Razak were found dead on Thursday at their residence in Karachi.   The police said they suspect a domestic dispute to be behind the incident, Geo News reported.   A press release by the police stated that the initial reports revealed that all the bullet casings collected from the crime scene were fired from the same weapon.   The minister had one bullet wound in his head whereas his wife was shot thrice, report said.   Bijarani, a veteran leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), was the Planning and Development Minister in Sindh province. His wife was a journalist.  Funeral prayers for the minister and his wife were held shortly after Friday prayers. While Raz...




Fidel Castro's eldest son commits suicide
Havana, Feb 2:  Fidel Castro Díaz-Balart, the eldest son of former Cuban President Fidel Castro, has killed himself after being treated for depression, Cuban state media announced.  He was 68 years old and took his life on Thursday. Popularly called "Fidelito", he was the only child of the Cuban revolutionary leader and his first wife, Mirta Diaz-Balart.    He had been in a "deep depressive state" from several months, according to the government website Cubadebate.   Born on September 1, 1949, Castro Diaz-Balart worked as a nuclear physicist and was scientific advisor to the Council of State of Cuba, the island's highest governing body. He was also the vice-president of the Caribbean country's Academy of Sciences.  Castro Diaz-Balart also headed Cuba's nuclear power programme until a falling-out with his father led to his dismissal, the BBC reported.  The state-run media said his funeral wo...




UN chief condemns terrorist attack on kabul(Afganistan)
United Nations, Jan 28: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has strongly condemned Saturday's deadly terrorist attack in Afghanistan, which was claimed by the Taliban. "Indiscriminate attacks against civilians are grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law and can never be justified. Those responsible for today's attack must be brought to justice," said the statement released in Addis Ababa, where the UN chief is attending an African Union summit. The secretary-general extended his deepest condolences to the families of the victims and wished a speedy recovery to those injured. He expressed his solidarity with the government and people of Afghanistan, Xinhua reported. A suicide bombing has killed at least 102 people and injured at least 158 others in central Kabul, officials said.  The attack, claimed by the Taliban, was the deadliest for months. It followed a Taliban attack on a luxury hotel in Kabul a week ago that killed ...




Hamas calls for new Palestinian strategy following Trump's Jerusalem move
Gaza, Jan 24: The Islamic Hamas movement called on Tuesday for Palestinian national conference to discuss a new Palestinian strategy. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh stressed in a televised speech the need for a new strategy that addresses the US and Israeli declaration aimed at striking the Palestinian issue, reports Xinhua. "We are ready to go to any capital to participate in such conference, especially in the Egyptian capital Cairo as the sponsor of the Palestinian reconciliation," Haniyeh was quoted as saying. He said that the US Vice President Mike Pence's tour in Israel was "unwelcome," adding that his speech before the Knesset a day earlier "proves the US has a strategic alliance with the Zionist entity." The US "doesn't take the interests and requirements of the Islamic and Arab nation into consideration," Haniyeh added.He accused the US administration of targeting "the principles of the Palestinian cause" by rec...




Myanmar 'ready' to receive Rohingyas from Bangladesh
Yangon, Jan 23: Myanmar authorities said on Tuesday that they are ready to initiate a gradual repatriation of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh despite an announcement of delay by Dhaka due to incomplete preparations. Speaking at a press conference in Nay Pyi Taw, Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Dr. Win Myat Aye said Myanmar will receive the verified returnees at Taung Pyo Letwe and Nga Khu Ya reception centres. He said that the Hla Pho Kaung will be the transit camp for the returnees. Asked that why no displaced people were sent back yet from the Bangladesh side on the designated Tuesday, the minister replied that coordination will continue with the other side's working group on the repatriation process for further action, Xinhua reported. In accordance with the deal on the repatriation reached between the two countries on January 16, Myanmar and Bangladesh agreed to repatriate the refugees under a physical plan starting on Tuesday. The crisis e...




Palestinians slam Pence speech in Israel as 'gift to extremists'
Gaza, Jan 23: The Palestinians on Monday slammed the speech of the US Vice President Mike Pence he addressed the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in which he expressed his country's commitment to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Pence's speech "is a gift to the extremists and proves that the American administration is part of the problem rather than the solution," Xinhua quoted Saeb Erekat, Secretary General of the Executive Committee of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), as saying. Pence addressed the Knesset, Israel's parliament, on Monday, giving a strong pro-Israeli speech and promising the controversial relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would be completed in less than two years. Pence's visit to Israel came amidst heightened tensions in the wake of US President Donald Trump's statement on December 6, which said that US recognises Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.&n...




Facebook realises Internet can harm democracy
San Francisco, Jan 23: Facebook, which is striving hard to make its platform sanitised from fake news and echo chambers, has realised that it can't guarantee that social media is not harmful to democracy. In a blog post, Product Manager Samidh Chakrabarti said on Tuesday that he is not blind to the damage that the Internet can do to even a well-functioning democracy. "I wish I could guarantee that the positives are destined to outweigh the negatives, but I can't," Chakrabarti said. "That's why we have a moral duty to understand how these technologies are being used and what can be done to make communities like Facebook as representative, civil and trustworthy as possible," he added. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also pledged to "fix" Facebook in 2018 by reducing hateful content and enhancing experience on his platform for over two billion users. "This is a new frontier and we don't pretend to have all the answers. But I pro...




Rohingyas seek safety, citizenship guarantees before repatriation
Dhaka, Jan 20: Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh on Saturday asked for guarantees that their safety and security would be protected and that they would be granted Myanmar citizenship before being repatriated to Rakhine state. Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed earlier this week to complete the refugees' return process within two years. Rohingya community leader Sirajul Mostafa, who lives in Bangladesh's Kutupalong refugee camp, told Efe news that his community was demanding the "complete" implementation of the recommendations made by an advisory commission on Rakhine state led by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan before being repatriated. The commission proposed addressing the rights of Rohingyas to resolve sectarian violence in Myanmar's western Rakhine state, including measures such as speeding up the verification process for citizenship and granting citizenship by naturalisation. "We are not here to stay, we want our rights back. If we had seen that ...




9 Rohingya Muslims killed in Myanmar police firing last night
Naypyidaw, Jan 17: At least nine people were killed and 12 others injured during overnight clashes with police trying to clear a protest in restive southwest Myanmar, from where hundreds of thousands of members of the mostly Muslim Rohingya minority have fled an Army campaign. The police fired on the crowd on Tuesday night when the protesters surrounded a police station in Mrauk-U after authorities had banned the public gathering, Efe news reported. The demonstrators were commemorating the loss of the ancient Buddhist kingdom of Mrauk-U, in Rakhine, which in 1785 was occupied by troops from Mandalay, the seat of Myanmar monarchy at the time. The injured were taken to a hospital in Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine state. Rakhine, one of the poorest states in Myanmar, is also home to the Rohingya community, the victims of an ethnic cleansing campaign led by the Myanmar Army, according to the UN.The alleged persecution has forced more than 700,000 Rohingyas to flee in th...




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