Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Indian Ambassador hands over medical aid to Lebanon to help in fight against COVID-19

Indian Ambassador to Lebanon Suhel Ajaz Khan handing over the PPE kits to Lebanon Minister of Public Health Hamad Hassan.. (Photo: ANI)

Beirut [Lebanon], Aug 25 (ANI): Indian Ambassador to Lebanon Suhel Ajaz Khan on Tuesday handed over a consignment of medical aid containing 70 boxes of PPE kits to help in the country's fight against the coronavirus.

The consignment was received by Hamad Hassan, Minister of Public Health of Lebanon.

The Ambassador also had a meeting with Hassan in which the two sides discussed issues of mutual interest including encouraging Indian pharma exports to Lebanon.
This is the second tranche of India's assistance to Lebanon in the aftermath of tragic explosions of August 4.

Earlier, 58 MT of medical, food and relief supplies were delivered to Lebanon on August 14. (ANI)

Israel has been long-time reliable partner of US: Pompeo

US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo. (Photo: ANI)

Washington [US], Aug 25 (ANI): US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Tuesday expressed gratitude to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for fruitful negotiations.

Pompeo also said that Israel has been a reliable partner of the United States for a long time.

"Israel has long been America's most reliable partner in the Middle East. Thank you to @IsraeliPM

@netanyahu for a wonderful visit and constructive meetings and to @USAmbIsrael Friedman and the @usembassyjlm team for the work you do to keep our relationship strong," Pompeo tweeted.

Pompeo on Monday met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and discussed efforts to "address Iranian malign influence in the region", shared challenges the US and Israel's face, and the benefit of the Abraham Accords.

"We talked about chances for our countries to work together as the whole world tries to push back against this virus that came from Wuhan, China, and I'm confident there are places which our medical systems and pharmaceutical companies will build out a good solution to keep Israelis, Americans, and people all across the world safer and healthier in the weeks and months ahead," said Pompeo during a presser.

Under a historic agreement earlier this month, Israel and the UAE agreed to full diplomatic ties including the mutual establishment of embassies and beginning of open trading. Israel said it would halt its plans to formally annexe parts of the West Bank.

Pompeo is on a five-day Middle-East trip that will also take him to Sudan, Bahrain and the UAE. (ANI)

Infrastructure spending can help spur economic activity: KPMG

Aggregate demand can be reactivated by increasing public expenditure. (Photo: ANI)

New Delhi [India], Aug 25 (ANI): As India faces its deepest recession since Independence, infrastructure spending can help spur economic activity and the involuntarily unemployed through job creation, global professional consulting services firm KPMG said on Tuesday.

The Rs 111 lakh crore National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) built on Infrastructure Vision 2025 should provide a timely stimulus to the economy, it said in a new report.

"Given the magnitude of COVID-19 pandemic and consequent pressure on resources, it is imperative that stakeholders reassess the priority of sectors and projects outlined in Infrastructure Vision 2025."

Infrastructure spending is expected to have a multiplier effect on overall economic growth, primarily based on the Keynesian theory that aggregate demand can be reactivated by increasing public expenditure.

In addition, said KPMG, improved infrastructure will enhance the overall productive capacity of the economy and its global competitiveness.

Typically, infrastructure projects are characterised by high capital intensity and long gestation periods, often leading to a funding gap. Public investment is key to filling this gap.

"The government should take stock of the project pipeline and review its expenditure and financing programmes to obtain optimal results and impacts," said Arun Kumar, Chairman and CEO of KPMG in India.

Closing the infrastructure funding gap calls for developing financing solutions and placing more emphasis on collaboration and shared responsibilities across public, private and non-governmental organisations.

A prerequisite to this is an enabling governance and policy framework that fosters business growth and investor confidence while rethinking innovative investment and funding models to encourage private sector participation.

Infrastructure Vision 2025's strategic goals are aligned with those of the UN's 2030 Sustainable Development Goals to improve the living standards of people.

The government now needs to focus on creating the conditions needed to secure funding for Infrastructure Vision 2025's delivery, thus helping India cater to urbanisation-led requirements, said the report.

A well-planned pipeline and well-developed infrastructure can lead to the creation of valuable assets, build investor confidence, increase revenue and finance sources, grow businesses, generate employment, improve ease of living and enable inclusive growth, it added. (ANI)

Polaroid announced launch of Hi-Print mobile printer

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Massachusetts [US], Aug 25 (ANI): Polaroid has announced the launch of its new Hi-Print mobile printer that can turn pictures into stickers.

According to Mashable, the mobile printer is available on Polaroid's website for USD 99.99 with a 20-sheet printer cartridge costing USD 16.99 separately. One can also spend USD 129.99 for a starter set that comes with the printer and 40 sheets of paper. Other retailers, like Best Buy and Amazon, will be put it on sale on September 10.

As per Polaroid, the printing from the Hi-Print should be pretty simple. The user need connect to it via Bluetooth, choose and customize (with filters and text) what one wants to print in an accompanying iOS or Android app and get the sticker printed. The images come out in the form of 2.3-inch by 3.4-inch wallet-friendly photos, but with adhesive backs, so people can stick them wherever one wants. Polaroid said that printing takes less than a minute and claims the photos are water-resistant.

As per Mashable, the battery is supposedly good for 20 prints before one needs to charge it using a Micro-USB cable again. It looks tempting to just print the first 20 memes you find in your photo library, but remember it costs USD 17 to get more sheets. (ANI)

COVID-19 pandemic will not affect deliveries of S-400 to India: Indian Ambassador to Russia

Indian Ambassador to Russia Venkatesh Varma. (Photo: ANI)

Kubinka [Russia], Aug 25 (ANI): Indian Ambassador to Russia Venkatesh Varma on Monday said that the outbreak of the coronavirus will not affect the deliveries of Russian-made S-400 air defence to India.

"The S-400 will be on schedule. The coronavirus will not be affecting the delivery of the S-400," Varma told Sputnik.

India signed a USD 5.43-billion deal with Russia for the purchase of five S-400 systems during the 19th India-Russia Annual Bilateral Summit in New Delhi on October 5, 2018, for long-term security needs.

Meanwhile, Varma also told Sputnik that India hopes to ink a contract for manufacturing of Russia's Kamov Ka-226 helicopters next year.

"There are still some technical discussions regarding indigenisation of production in India of the Kamov 226 helicopters. We hope that these discussions will be successful soon and therefore we will then go to the next stage of the signing of the contract for the production of Kamov 226," Varma told Sputnik.

He further said that the defence industry cooperation will be one of the key areas of collaboration between India and Russia and it will be addressed at the upcoming India-Russia bilateral summit.

"The Indian-Russian bilateral summit will cover all issues -- political, economic, trade, energy. And, of course, defence cooperation will be one of the main pillars of cooperation," Varma told Sputnik.

"We expect some very major announcements, including Russian support for the Make in India program of Prime Minister Modi. Russia has extended very positive support, we are very grateful for that," he added.

Earlier today, the diplomat said that External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar is likely to attend the events of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
Further, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also expected to participate in the SCO meet. (ANI)

Hong Kong reports 'first documented' COVID-19 re-infection

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Hong Kong, August 25 (ANI): A Hong Kong man, who had first tested positive for COVID-19 in March and made a full recovery was re-infected months later after making a trip overseas, according to researchers.

A pre-print study, by a team at the University of Hong Kong, purports to be the "world's first documentation" of a patient who recovered from coronavirus contracting the infection again. Researchers sequenced the genome of his first and second infections to show that virus strains were different, suggesting that he was re-infected, The Washington Post reported.

Although there have been unconfirmed reports of people contracting COVID-19 again after recovering from the virus, the study, which has not been peer-reviewed, has potential implications for vaccine use and policies pertaining to the concept of herd immunity which presumes those who recover from the disease will not be re-infected.

The Hong Kong man, a 33-year-old IT worker with a reported history of good health, had first tested positive for COVID-19 in late March. He had symptoms of fever and cough and was rushed to the hospital. The patient recovered and was discharged in mid-April after testing negative for the infection.

However, in August, after visiting Spain via the UK, he again tested positive when he returned to Hong Kong, despite being asymptomatic.

In the research paper, study author Kwok-Yung Yuen and his colleagues suggested that herd immunity is unlikely to eliminate coronavirus and a potential vaccine might not provide lifelong immunity to the infection.

However, some immunologists asserted that the case was not a surprise and suggested a more positive interpretation of the findings. "This is a textbook example of how immunity should work," Akiko Iwasaki, an immunology expert at Yale University, said in a tweet on Monday, while referring to the Hong Kong man's asymptomatic case.

Iwasaki said the research had "no bearing" on the success of a potential COVID-19 vaccine. "Vaccines can provoke a much higher level of immunity in a person that can potentially block re-infection, or at least shut it down to a noncontagious level," she added.

The study was accepted in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal on Monday and it is likely to be published online the next day, according to Lili Kadets, a journal spokeswoman. It was "reviewed and accepted" by Robert T Schooley, an infectious-diseases expert at the University of California at San Diego.

The Hong Kong man's re-infection may suggest the level of immunity after contracting infection may be lower than many had hoped, or can reduce over time, or may occur on a spectrum, thereby offering partial immune protection, according to The Washington Post.

The paper suggested that while the man had no detectable antibodies after contracting the infection for the second time, he developed them afterward -- a development Iwasaki termed as "encouraging".

"What we are learning from this new case report is that SARS-CoV-2 may persist in the global population, similar to other common cold-associated human coronaviruses, even if patients have some degree of acquired immunity," Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City said in an interview.

"The only safe and practical approach to achieve herd immunity is through vaccination," he said, although immunisations may not provide lifelong protection.

Glatter added that extensive studies are needed to "evaluate the spectrum of illness and degree of immunity achieved due to the re-infection by the virus.

"The take-home is that a vaccine, no matter how novel or sophisticated, may not be able to provide lifelong immunity against COVID-19. This is in keeping with other seasonal coronaviruses," he was quoted as saying.

He said it may be possible that vaccines should be administered twice a year to supplement natural immunity, The Washington Post reported.

Authors of the University of Hong Kong study have recommended that patients who recover from COVID-19 should continue to follow social distancing and other norms, such as wearing a mask. (ANI)

'Five big lies of Pakistan exposed', says Indian Mission at UN

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New York [US], August 25 (ANI): India on Monday (local time) hit out at Pakistan over lies peddled by its mission at UN. In a strong statement, the Indian Mission said that Pakistan has put out a false statement claiming that their envoy Munir Akram spoke at the United Nations Security Council while the session was not open to non-members.

"We have seen a statement put out by the Pakistan Mission to the UN, claiming that these remarks were made by the Permanent Representative of Pakistan at the UN Security Council. We fail to comprehend where exactly did the Permanent Representative of Pakistan make his statement since the Security Council Session today was not open to non-members of the Security Council", Indian mission at UN said in a statement.

The statement further says that the detailed statement exposed the 'five big lies' being peddled and pushed by Pakistan.

Dismissing assertions that Pakistan has been a target of cross-border terrorism for decades, the Indian Mission in its statement said: "A lie repeated a hundred times will not become truth. The biggest sponsor of cross-border terrorism against India now tries to masquerade itself as a victim of terrorism by India!"

"Pakistan is home to the largest number of terrorists proscribed by the United Nations. Many of the sanctioned terrorists and entities continue to operate with impunity inside Pakistan. Prime Minister of Pakistan admitted at the UN General Assembly in 2019, the presence of 40,000-50,000 terrorists inside Pakistan," it added.

It further rejected the claim that Pakistan has decimated Al Qaeda from the region.

"The claim that Pakistan has decimated Al Qaeda from the region. Perhaps, the Permanent Representative of Pakistan is not aware that Osama Bin Laden was hiding in their own country in plain sight, and it is the US forces which got him inside Pakistan. Nor have they heard their Prime Minister refer to Osama Bin Laden as a "martyr"," the statement read.

Indian Mission at UN said Pakistan makes the "laughable claim that India has hired terrorist as mercenaries to hit them."

"Coming from a country which is a known sponsor of cross-border terrorism, which has made the world suffer due to its actions, this claim is nothing short of being preposterous!" it said.

The statement also rejected claims of Indians being in 1267 sanctions list. "The 1267 Sanctions list is public, and the world can see none of these individuals are in it. The 1267 Committee works on the basis of evidence, and not random accusations thrown in to divert their time and attention," read the statement.

Further, it slammed Pakistan for making "ridiculous assertions" about internal affairs of India.

"Pakistan makes ridiculous assertions about internal affairs of India. This is a country whose minority population has dropped drastically from 1947 to what it is today which is just about 3 per cent, which is nothing short of systemic cleansing," it said.

"This is in addition to false allegations about India's sovereign actions in the Union Territory of J&K, which are for the welfare of the people. The world has seen through their lies yet again," the statement added.

This comes after Pakistan's Permanent Representative Munir Akram put out a random statement today masquerading it as if the statement was made by him to the United Nations Security Council.
But for their purpose, the statement was picked up by Pakistani media and was portraying it as Munir Akram's statement at the Security Council. (ANI)

Protests erupt in PoK's Muzaffarabad city against construction of dams by China and Pakistan

Massive protests and a torch rally was held in Muzaffarabad city of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (Photo/ANI)

Muzaffarabad [PoK], August 25 (ANI): Massive protests and a torch rally was held in Muzaffarabad city of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) on Monday night to oppose the mega-dams to be constructed by Chinese firms on Neelum-Jhelum River. The protesters hailing from ''Darya Bachao, Muzaffarabad Bachao" (Save River, Save Muzaffarabad) Committee'' chanted slogans like "Neelum-Jhelum behne do, humein zinda rehne do" (let the Neelum and Jhelum rivers flow, let us live).

The rally was attended by over a thousand people from the city and other parts of PoK. Recently, Pakistan and China signed agreements to construct Azad Pattan and Kohala Hydropower Projects in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.

Azad Pattan Hydel Power Project of 700.7 megawatts of electricity as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was signed on July 6, 2020. The $1.54 billion projects will be sponsored by the China Gezhouba Group Company (CGGC). The Kohala Hydroelectric Power Project which will be built on Jhelum River is roughly 7 km upstream of Azad Pattan Bridge in the Sudhanoti District of PoK and 90 km from Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan.

The project expected to be completed by the year 2026 will be sponsored by China Three Gorges Corporation, International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Silk Road Fund. What really irks locals is high Chinese presence in the area, massive construction of dams, and river diversions threatening their very existence.

Pakistan and China are jointly plundering the natural resources of PoK and Gilgit Baltistan in the wake of China Pakistan Economic Corridor. The resentment in the occupied territories are high against Pakistan and China. (ANI)

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