Saturday, September 5, 2020

50,000 people taking part in phase 3 trial of Chinese COVID-19 Vaccine

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Beijing [China], August 5 (ANI/Sputnik): Around 50,000 people in a number of countries are participating in phase 3 clinical trials of a coronavirus vaccine developed by the China National Biotec Group (CNBG), the company said on Saturday in a press release.

"The third phase of clinical trials of the inactivated CNBG vaccine against COVID-19 is significantly accelerating, and clinical trials are already underway in several countries, including Bahrain, UAE, Morocco, Peru, Argentina, with about 50,000 people participating," the CNGB said.

Media reported in July that phase 3 trial of CNBG's vaccine would also be also held in Uzbekistan, and Pakistan has expressed interest in holding clinical trials as well. Another Chinese vaccine, developed by the Sinovac company. (ANI/Sputnik)

Lebanese Army Disposed Of Over 4 Tonnes Of Ammonium Nitrate Found Near Beirut Port

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Beirut (Lebanon), September 05 (ANI/Sputnik): The Lebanese Army has completed the disposal of more than 4 tonnes of ammonium nitrate found at the entrance to the port of Beirut, the site of a massive blast in early August, according to the army's statement obtained by Sputnik on Saturday.

Four warehouses storing the dangerous chemical were discovered by the Lebanese military near entrance number nine earlier this week.

"A 4.35-tonne batch of ammonium nitrate discovered a few days ago in the port of Beirut has been disposed of," the statement said.

The powerful blast in the port of the Lebanese capital that took place on August 4 left at least 190 people dead and 6,500 others injured. The explosion, which caused an estimated $15 billion in damages and prompted the country's government to resign, has been blamed on the improper storage of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate by the port authorities. (ANI/Sputnik)

3 people injured in explosion of French military car in Mali

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Bamako [Mali], September 5 (Sputnik/ANI): Three people have been injured in an explosion of a French military vehicle in Mali on Saturday morning, a military source told Sputnik on Saturday.
The explosive device went off along the car's route in the northern area of the country, injuring three servicemen stationed in the country as part of the Barkhane operation, according to the source.

France is conducting the Barkhane operation in Africa's Sahel, fighting terrorism and trying to stabilize the situation so that the region's countries could maintain security on their own. Paris has deployed approximately 4,000 servicemen to Mali since 2013. (Sputnik/ANI)

Activist Approaches Islamic Community To Protect Uyghur Muslims From Chinese Oppression (Updated)

Uyghur American and rights advocate Rushan Abbas. (ANI)

Washington D.C. [US], September 5 (ANI): Uyghur American and rights advocate Rushan Abbas demand OIC and other Muslim countries to watch what Pakistan and China doing to Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.

In a video statement, she said, "The world continues to turn a blind eye to the genocide that the Chinese government is perpetrating against Uyghur Muslims."

"Uyghur pleas are dismissed and discredited. Meanwhile, China's propaganda is met with blind faith. By virtue of this faith, over 3 million Uyghurs are imprisoned in concentration camps. Our religion is outlawed, our organs are harvested, our hair is sold, our children ripped from us, our women raped, forcibly married and sterilized," she said.

Rushan is the founder and executive director of the non-profit, Campaign for Uyghurs.

She said, "Uyghurs are forced to make your Nike shoes, Zara dresses, Calvin Klein purses as slaves while forsaking their religion and ethnicity."

"A promise for 'never again' was made. But that promise is being broken.

You hear the cries of agony from the millions facing genocide, from the children who scream out for their parents, the sobs of women who were raped, sterilized, and forced to abort. Still, the most deafening is the silence from the world community, in particular from our Muslim brothers and sisters. This pain is met with justifications made on behalf of the Chinese government," said the activist.

Rushan Abbas said, "The Gulf states remain indifferent to this genocide because of China's Belt and Road initiative accompanied by short term economic benefits. But in the end, China will be the only one who truly benefits. It will do onto all Islamic countries what it is doing to East Turkistan; enforce atheist communist ideology and kill off Islam".

The activist is unhappy with Pakistan's failure to raise the Uyghur issue with China, its close ally. She said, "Pakistan naively sees its ties to China as "mutually beneficial". This is folly; it is becoming China's colony. As the Chinese language becomes required and the Chinese military is seen on the streets of Pakistan, it is clear what is developing."

The CCP is turning Islamic countries into their puppets, with their mouths, eyes, and ears covered by China's blood money.

The people of these nations are our Muslim brothers and sisters, and their silence stabs our hearts.
Rushan said: "Their fate may be the same as ours if they do not awaken soon! While the OIC has changed its position to support China's genocide, siding with these CCP bullies, we plead with the ummah to take up the cause of saving Uyghur lives, and concurrently protecting Islam from China's war on religion, as is our obligation as Muslims".

"This modern-day Genocide isn't just mass killings to the level of extermination; it means the obliteration of a people to extinction. It is our duty to make sure this genocide ends and it is Muslims' duty to defend Islam," she said while concluding: "Don't abandon your Muslim brothers and sisters."
China has been accused of interning one million Uyghurs in "re-education" centers in Xinjiang.

Uyghurs do not accept that Xinjiang is part of China, citing the evidence that Uyghur people lived in the area before the Chinese Han and Tang dynasties set up protectorates.

Xinjiang, as it is now, came under the Chinese Qing dynasty rule in the 18th century, but there have been many times in its history when it was not under Chinese control. (ANI)

Tourists Missing From `Nepal's Shimla' Due To COVID-19

Nepal's Makwanpur, which is a tourist hub got affected by COVID-19 pandemic

Makwanpur [Nepal], September 5 (ANI): Nepal's Makwanpur, which is commonly referred to as "Shimla of Nepal" is missing tourists this year, especially from India, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Though hotels in the Makwanpur have opened for business yet the tourists are nowhere to be seen.
The government of Nepal had allowed the hotels to operate from July 30.

Shivakumar Khatri, Chairman of Thaha Nagar Hotel Association, said the government has allowed them to open hotels but business is dry.

"The major destinations of Daman, Chitlang, Markhu, Bajrabarahi and Simbhanjyangare are without tourists. There are over 100 hotels in that area. They usually use to host Indian tourists along with domestic ones. Due to the pandemic, the flow (of tourists) has dropped to zero," he said.

Makwanpur is known for its different vegetation and varied climate and it is normally flocked by tourists around the year.

The area is usually packed with Indian tourists during summer months.

"Along with the health crisis, the business in the area is also in crisis. Many hotels in the area are on brink of collapse," Khatri said.

The hotel association is conducting a survey to gather information on the loss suffered by hoteliers due to unfavourable conditions caused by COVID-19. (ANI)

27 people arrested after another night of unrest in US' Portland

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Portland [US], September 05 (ANI/Sputnik): Twenty-seven anti-racism demonstrators have been arrested in the US city of Portland after another night of unrest, the Portland police said in a press release on Saturday.

According to the police, late on Friday, demonstrators wearing gear, including helmets, gas masks, armoured clothing, and some carried shields, started a march from Kenton Park toward the offices of the Portland Police Association (PPA), which has been the site of many protests against racial injustice and police brutality over the past few months. After arriving at the offices, many in the crowd were chanting, among other things, "burn it down."

"Twenty-seven people were arrested. All were booked in the Multnomah County Detention Center on the listed charges," the press release said, adding that police officers started taking measures after rocks and bottles were thrown at them, and the assembly was declared unlawful.

Protests against racism and police brutality erupted in Portland and other US cities following the killing of an unarmed African American man, George Floyd, in police custody in the city of Minneapolis on May 25. Nationwide unrest has escalated following the non-fatal shooting of another African American man, Jacob Blake, by the police in the city of Kenosha, Wisconsin on August 23. (ANI/Sputnik)

Australian police arrest 29 people during anti-lockdown rallies across country

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Victoria [Australia], September 09 (ANI/Sputnik): The police in the Australian states of Victoria and New South Wales (NSW) on Saturday arrested 29 people during rallies against COVID-19 restrictions in Melbourne, Sydney, and other cities. The Victoria police said that approximately 200 people took part in the protest despite the warnings about the risks of spreading COVID-19 and a ban on large gatherings. According to the law enforcement agency, people initially gathered near the Shrine of Remembrance, a war memorial, and then marched toward the Albert Park Lake.

"In total, we arrested 15 people and issued over 150 infringement notices for breaching the Chief Health Officer (CHO) directions. 14 of the arrests were for breaching the CHO directions, while one was for assaulting police," the police tweeted, adding that one officer was injured during the protest.

Meanwhile, the police in NSW said that 14 people were arrested during anti-lockdown protests in Sydney and Byron Bay.

"14 arrested, 81 Penalty Infringement Notices issued during unauthorized protest activity across the state ... A police operation has now concluded following unauthorized protest activity in Sydney and Byron Bay today," the NSW police said in a press release. On Saturday, Australia's COVID-19 case tally increased by 83 to 26,136. At the same time, the number of recoveries is 22,325, while the coronavirus-related death toll is 748. The Victoria state, which has over 19,400 confirmed cases, is the most affected and is followed by the New South Wales state with more than 4,100 cases. (ANI/Sputnik)

Afghan forces kill 46 Taliban terrorists in Northern Faryab Province

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Kabul [Afghanistan], September 5 (ANI/Sputnik): The Afghan forces have killed 46 Taliban terrorists and injured 37 others during an operation in the northern Faryab province.

Several Taliban units attacked the Qaisar district of the Faryab province but were pushed back by the military, Mohammad Hanif Rezai, a spokesman for the 209th corps of the Afghan National Army, also known as the Shaheen Corps, told Sputnik on Saturday.

The spokesman added that the district was under the control of the Afghan forces.

At the same time, Rezai said the military operation was still underway, while the Afghan armed forces were clearing the area from the Taliban terrorists.

Meanwhile, the provincial government said several high-ranking members of the Taliban were injured during the operation.

The movement has not yet commented on the incident. (ANI/Sputnik)

Imran Khan fails again in convincing world of 'freedom of press' in Pak

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan. (Photo: ANI)

By Francesca Marino
Rome [Italy], September 05 (ANI): Imran Khan does it again. In an interview to the Arab network-- Al Jazeera, the Pakistani prime minister goes back to one of his favourite topics: Freedom of press. Repeating once again the same (most probably written) speech with the same words and the same arguments.

According to him, media in Pakistan are freer than in the UK and since he came to power the country has practically become La La Land for journalists and reporters. True, sometimes somebody "has been taken for a few hours and we don't know why", but the media are basically free. Pity is, no international (or national) organizations agree with Imran Khan.

According to the latest report published by Reporters Sans Frontieres: "Pakistani media, which has a long tradition of being very lively, has become a priority target for the country's "deep state," a euphemism for the constant maneuvering by the military and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the main military intelligence agency, to subjugate the civilian executive. The influence of this military "establishment," which cannot stand independent journalism, has increased dramatically since Imran Khan became prime minister in July 201."

"There have been many cases of brazen censorship in which the military has used a number of methods for exercising pressure," the report stated.

The report goes on pointing out that: "Distribution of newspapers, especially the leading daily Dawn, has been interrupted. Media outlets have been threatened with the withdrawal of advertising. The signals of TV channels that gave airtime to opposition representatives have been jammed. Journalists who dared to broach subjects deemed off-limits by the military have been subjected to ISI-orchestrated harassment campaigns".

Last year Steven Butler, the Asian Program Director for the Committee to Protect Journalists, was forced to leave the country. According to him: "There is no doubt that press freedom is under assault in Pakistan. Journalists cannot work freely and do their job of supporting Pakistani democracy when they are under constant attack".

The list of journalists, both Pakistani and foreigners, threatened and forced to flee the country or to stop working is long and widely known. And the list includes also scholars, bloggers, and activists.
According to RSF, in 2019 four journalists and a blogger have been killed in Pakistan in connection with their work. And Freedom Network, a Pakistani organisation, gives an even worst picture of the situation.

Its latest report titled 'Murders, harassment and assault: The tough wages of journalism in Pakistan' documents 91 assaults against journalists, seven killings, and a long list of different kinds of violations and threats, from injuries to econo0mic threats.

According to the same report, the State and its functionaries and agencies emerged as the main actors in threatening the media. In more than 42 percent of cases, the victims and their families pointed the fingers towards the authorities and the intelligence. And the percentage could be much higher: the families and victimis, if and when they escape or are released, are badly threatened of dire consequences if they say anything.

During these past few months, things have got much worse because journalists and activists are not anymore safe even abroad. The activist Gul Bukhari, who lives in London, has been threatened for the umpteenth time; the blogger Ahmad Waqas Goraya has been beaten in Holland out of his house; the body of Sajid Hussain, a Baloch journalist, has been found in Sweden after a month he had disappeared.

While Idris Khattak, a former Amnesty International worker, is still 'missing' after a year. In this case, things are even worse: the family has been told in fact (after a year) that Idris has been taken by the Army and charged with a military act.

This means he has been (or will be, it is unclear) taken in front of a military tribunal, without lawyers and the charges against him will not be made public. This is the first time a military act is used against a civilian, according to jurists is against the Constitution, but nobody cares. For sure, does not care the former champion of human and civil rights Imran Khan.

Who apparently lives in a dystopian world where he sees only what he wants to see and where a lie becomes truth if you repeat it enough times. After the interview, in fact, only a few hours later, Sajjid Gondal, a former Dawn reporter, and SECP Joint Director has gone 'missing'.

According to his colleagues, he was investigating the chairman of CPEC, retired Lieutenant general Saleem Bajwa. True Mr Khan, the press in Pakistan is absolutely free. Free to be abducted, of course. (ANI)

Rajnath Singh leaves for Tehran after 4-day Russia visit

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. (Photo: ANI)

Moscow [Russia], September 5 (ANI): Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday left for Tehran to meet his Iranian counterpart Brigadier General Amir Hatami after completing his four-day visit to Moscow.

"Leaving Moscow for Tehran. I shall be meeting the Defence Minister of Iran, Brigadier General Amir Hatami," Rajnath Singh in a tweet.

On Saturday, Singh met his counterparts from Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and deliberated on ways to give greater thrust to defence cooperation between India and the Central Asian countries.
Singh had reached Moscow on Wednesday to attend a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) defence ministers which took place on Friday.

On Friday, Singh had a meeting with his Chinese counterpart General Wei Fenghe during which the two sides discussed military standoff along the Line of Actual Control.

During the talks, Singh emphasised that the actions of the Chinese troops including amassing of a large number of troops, their aggressive behaviour and attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo were in violation of the bilateral agreements and not in keeping with the understandings reached between the Special Representatives of two sides.

He said while the Indian troops had always taken a very responsible approach towards border management but there should also be no doubt about the determination to protect India's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

During the visit, Rajanath Singh also met his Russian counterpart General Sergey Shoigu in Moscow. The two leaders discussed strengthening defence and strategic cooperation between both the two countries. (ANI)

Ethnic Mongolians in Tokyo hold anti-China protests for imposing language policy

Some 15-20 people joined the protest to raise their concern. (ANI)

Tokyo [Japan] September 5 (ANI): Ethnic Mongolians living in Japan protested in front of the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo against the China's policy to forcibly push Mandarin-language education in Inner Mongolia, an autonomous region in northern China.

Some 15-20 people joined the protest to raise their concern.

In Inner Mongolia, protests are underway after a new policy aimed at pushing Mandarian language education across the region sparked widespread unrest among the country's ethnic Mongols. It has angered many as they saw it as a move to erase their culture.

Thousands of students in Inner Mongolia have taken to streets during the past week to rally against Beijing's three-year plan to push Mandarin language education across the northern region and phase out local history, literature, and ethnic textbooks in favour of national course books.

According to the local media reports, parents are also refusing to send their children to school in defiance of the new policy.

Activists say that under President Xi Jinping, the Chinese Communist Party has intensified to promote Mandarin and push the country's ethnic minorities to adopt a uniform Chinese identity.

The latest move to roll out Mandarin language instruction has raised fears that it could be the end for a minority language already at risk of fading away. (ANI)

Will not cede an inch of India territory, Defence Minister tells China and rebuts false claims

Singh and Wei both are in Moscow to attend a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) defence ministers

New Delhi [India], September 5 (ANI): Defence Minister Rajnath Singh talked tough with his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe during Friday's meeting that took place on the sidelines of the SCO dialogue in Moscow and conveyed that India will not "cede an inch of its land" and is determined to protect integrity and sovereignty of the country at all costs, sources told ANI.

The meeting between Singh and Wei took place amid heightened tensions between New Delhi and Beijing as troops of both sides are engaged in a standoff along the Line of Actual Control. According to the official statement, the meeting went on for two-and-a-half hours.

Singh and Wei both were in Moscow to attend a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) defence ministers which took place on Friday.

According to informed sources, Singh gave point by point rebuttal to the claims made by the Chinese minister.

Sources told ANI that Defence minister Singh told Chinese side in clear terms that India will not cede an inch of land and is determined to protect its integrity and sovereignty at all costs.

The meeting was unscheduled and was held after the Chinese side requested for it. Experts believe that since India took control of strategic heights north of Pangong Lake in Ladakh at the LAC, China is keener for talks.

This is established from the fact that the Chinese minister even chose to come down to the hotel where the Indian Defence Minister was putting up for the dialogue, according to informed sources.

Wei has made three requests for the meeting in the last 80 days. He is a People Liberation Army veteran, having served for 50 years in the forces.

India also issued an official statement on the meeting which said the Defence Minister "categorically conveyed India's position on the developments along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) including in the Galwan valley in the Western Sector of the India-China Border Areas in the last few months".

During the meeting, Singh emphasised that the actions of the Chinese troops including their being amassed in large numbers, their aggressive behaviour and attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo were in violation of the bilateral agreements and not in keeping with the understandings reached between the Special Representatives of two sides.

"Defence Minister (Singh) stated clearly that while the Indian troops had always taken a very responsible approach towards border management, at the same time there should also be no doubt about our determination to protect India's sovereignty and territorial integrity," an official release said. (ANI)

India's tactical responses to Chinese transgression attempts in Ladakh left China stuck in quicksand: EFSAS

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Amsterdam [Netherlands], September 5 (ANI): India's spirited and tactically sound responses to the Chinese attempts to unilaterally change status quo along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) "has left China stuck in a quicksand of its own making that it can neither extricate itself easily from nor remain stuck in for too long," according to a European-based think tank.

India has taken a leaf out of China's book and has taken control of some strategic heights not only on the southern bank of the Pangong Tso, but also its northern bank, bolstering its position, taking Beijing aback, the European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS) said.

"Despite the repeated incidents near Pangong Tso over the last few days and the visible erosion of trust, the saving grace is that public statements emanating from the two countries still seem to be prioritising peace over a war that would hurt both countries severely in critical spheres. Actually achieving such peace, though, will require a considerable amount of deft negotiations and mutual give and take, and hence the present standoff promises to linger and be protracted," the think tank said in its commentary.

It said the potential flare-ups in the intervening sensitive period, till an agreement is reached, exists and the two sides need to prevent that from happening by being alert.

"India, meanwhile, has taken a leaf out of the Chinese book, and as per reports has in the days following the Chinese move taken control of some strategic heights not only on the southern bank of the Pangong Tso, but also its northern bank, thereby bolstering its position. This took China by surprise and appears to have unsettled it," the EFSAS said.

"China anticipated much less pushback against its attempts since April to alter the status of the LAC at multiple points through surreptitious incursions into the India side. Spirited, tactically sound responses by India's troops have left China stuck in a quicksand of its own making that it can neither extricate itself easily from nor remain stuck in for too long," it stated.

According to other unofficial reports, the People's Liberation Army (PLA), had attempted to execute another land grab targetting some heights on the southern bank of Pangong Tso, under the cover of night, which would have given them an operational advantage. Security analyst Nitin Gokhale said the Chinese forces were targetting Chushul/Spanggur gap, south of Pangong Tso.

Although the developments of what happened near Pangong Lake between August 29 and September 1 is still not clear, the situation continues to remain tense, which was reflected in the recent statements issued by both India and China recently.

"While both countries have said that they retained faith in negotiations based on the earlier agreements to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border regions, the differing perceptions of the two sides on where the LAC lay and run through, the frayed tempers on both sides, as well as the aggressive militarisation of the area after the bloody June 15 Galwan clashes, all meant that a negotiated settlement would not be easy to rush through," the EFSAS said.

The commentary stated, "China, not without justification, feels that any major act of aggression by it against India at a juncture when its own stock internationally is very low and highly suspect, could be the spark that sets off much bigger and wider events way beyond its control that it stands to suffer greatly from. This Chinese apprehension was alluded to by India's External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, who while expressing confidence on September 3 that diplomacy would yield solutions to the LAC standoff, added that 'the world has a lot riding on it'."

In response, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slammed China that "it is working to take down freedom all across the world". He also said the US hoped for a peaceful resolution in the India-China border tensions.

"From the Taiwan Strait to the Himalayas and beyond, the Chinese Communist Party is engaged in a clear and intensifying pattern of bullying its neighbours," Pompeo was quoted as saying.

On August 31, US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun asserted that China was "picking a fight right now on virtually every front" and was exploiting "every opportunity they can from technology theft to the assertion of national sovereignty over the territory and territorial waters of other countries".

"Our strategy is to push back against China in virtually every domain. We are doing it in the security area. We are doing it in terms of outsized demands to claim sovereign territory, whether it is in the Galwan valley of India on the India-Chinese border, or whether it is in the South Pacific. We are also doing it economically," Biegun added.

On September 3, China accused the US of interfering in the India-China border issue. In a statement, it said that "China and India have the ability to resolve their border disputes bilaterally. We don't accept countries outside the region pointing fingers, let alone meddling or making instigation, which will only endanger the regional peace and stability".

The statement added, "It is regrettable that, out of the zero-sum Cold War mentality, some senior US officials ignored the basic facts, violated the norms of international relations and basic principles of diplomacy, picked up fights virtually on every front and exploited every opportunity they can to slander and smear China, instigated other countries' relations with China." (ANI)

UK flies rainbow flag to mark second anniversary of Section 377 repeal

British High Commission celebrating the second anniversary of India's historic judgement to repeal Section 377 and decriminalise homosexuality (Photo Credit: UKInIndia)

New Delhi [India], September 5 (ANI): To celebrate the second anniversary of India's historic judgement to repeal Section 377 and decriminalise homosexuality, the United Kingdom (UK) is flying a rainbow flag at its British Council premises this week.

According to the British High Commission (BHC), the UK stands in solidarity with the Indian LGBT+ community and is working with a range of partners across the country to deliver a programme of events raising awareness of LGBT+ rights, with a particular focus on livelihoods.
The UK is committed to non-discrimination on any grounds, including sexual orientation or gender identity, and actively works to promote equal rights for all globally, BHC stated.

It said that the UK is proud to partner with India, as a force for good, to promote and advance LGBT+ rights.

On September 6, 2018, the Supreme Court had struck down the colonial-era Section 377 IPC which criminalised gay sex.

A five-judge constitutional bench, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra and comprising Justices DY Chandrachud, Rohinton Fali Nariman, AM Khanwilkar and Indu Malhotra, gave the verdict on a bunch of petitions filed to scrap the law. (ANI)

Japan deploys 22,000 soldiers on full alert due to approaching typhoon

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Tokyo [Japan], September 5 (ANI/Sputnik): Typhoon Haishen, which is expected to hit southwestern Japan in the next few days, has prompted the country's military to put 22,000 troops on full alert, Japanese Defence Minister Taro Kono said on Saturday.

"In case something happens, 22,000 members of the self-defence forces are on full alert. The self-defence forces must gather all their strength and be ready for anything," Kono said, as quoted by the NHK broadcaster.

Earlier in the day, Japan's Meteorological Agency said that the typhoon may cause high waves that can be comparable to tsunamis.

Atmospheric pressure in Haishen's centre is 920 hectopascals, while its wind power is 180 kilometres per hour and gusts are up to 252 kilometres per hour. Haishen is expected to hit Japan's Kyushu island on September 6 and 7.

Nearly 100 flights in southern and southwestern Japan were cancelled on Saturday due to the approaching typhoon. (ANI/Sputnik)

China's Top Diplomat Fails To Restore Strained Ties With Europe

Chinese Foreign Minister and State Councillor Wang Yi (File Photo)

New York [US], September 5 (ANI): China's bid to mend its strained ties with European countries did not get much traction during a recent five-day Europe visit by Foreign Minister and State Councillor Wang Yi.

The article, which appeared in Bloomberg, explains how China's coercive diplomacy is backfiring in European countries.

In Rome, where Wang began his official tour, he had to handle China's relationship with Canada and Italy. This is because Italian officials helped to arrange a previously unscheduled meeting with Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne.

It is to be noted that diplomatic relations between China and Canada have come under strain after Ottawa arrested Huawei's Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou in 2018 at the behest of the United States. In retaliation, two Canadian citizens were detained by Beijing.

Wang faced a barrage of questions about the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests during his visit to Oslo. In response, the Chinese Foreign Minister warned that China would see the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the protestors as interference in its internal matters. Ties between Norway and China soured earlier over the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese activist Liu Xiaobo.

During Wang's visit to Berlin, his final stop, the issue shifted to Taiwan. The Chinese Foreign Minister had said earlier that Czech Senate President Milos Vystrcil would "pay a heavy price" for visiting Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own province. The remarks drew a rebuke from Wang's German counterpart Heiko Maas, who was present at the joint presser.

"The myriad of issues on which Europe and China do not see eye-to-eye would have still been there under the surface. In Paris, for example, French President Emmanuel Macron in his meeting with Wang expressed concerns about human rights and China adhering to its international commitments, but in private," the Bloomberg article stated.

"Just as likely to remain unchanged is Beijing's eagerness to strengthen its ties with Europe, thereby fortifying them against any lobbying from Washington for a coalition to resist China. So even if this trip fell short of expectations, Wang will almost certainly be back again visiting capitals across the continent," it said.

China's ties with Australia took a turn for the worse after an Australian journalist, Cheng Lei, living and working in Beijing for CGTN, was recently detained, although allegations against Cheng remain unknown.

Both Canberra and Beijing have been at war of words over a variety of issues including wine, beef and telecommunications gear, and China's territorial claims in South China Sea. (ANI)

Rajnath Singh meets Kazakh, Tajik, Uzbek counterparts in Moscow, discusses boosting defence cooperation

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh with his Kazakh counterpart Lieutenant General Nurlan Yemekbayev in Moscow on Saturday. (Photo source: Rajnath Singh Twitter)

Moscow [Russia], September 5 (ANI): Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday met his counterparts from Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and deliberated on ways to give greater thrust to defence cooperation between India and the Central Asian countries.

Singh is currently visiting Russia, where he attended the combined meeting of defence ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

In a tweet, the Defence Minister said he had a "productive" interaction with his Kazakh counterpart Lieutenant General Nurlan Yermekbayev and discussed ways to further boost bilateral defence cooperation.

"Productive interaction with the Defence Minister of Kazakhstan, Lieutenant General Nurlan Yermekbayev. We discussed ways to add further momentum to India-Kazakhstan defence cooperation," he said.

The Defence Minister said he interacted with his Tajik counterpart Colonel General Sherali Mirzo on a wide spectrum of defence ties between the two countries. He described the meeting as "extremely fruitful".

"Had an extremely fruitful meeting with Defence Minister of Tajikistan, Colonel-General Sherali Mirzo in Moscow. Our talks included a wide spectrum of India-Tajikistan defence relations," Singh tweeted.

He also met his Uzbek counterpart Major General Kurbanov Bakhodir Nizamovich in Moscow.
"I had a wonderful meeting with Uzbekistan's Minister of Defence, Major General Kurbanov Bakhodir Nizamovich in Moscow today. Defence Cooperation remains an important pillar of India- Uzbekistan bilateral relations," the Defence Minister said in another tweet.

On Friday, Singh told his Chinese counterpart General Wei Fenghe that attempts by Chinese troops to unilaterally alter the status quo along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) were in violation of the bilateral agreements and Beijing should work with New Delhi for complete disengagement from all friction areas including Pangong Tso.

The Defence Minister made these remarks during their meeting in the Russian capital yesterday, which lasted for two hours and 20 minutes.

According to an official statement, the two ministers had frank and in-depth discussions about the developments in the India-China border areas as well as on India-China relations. During the meeting, the Defence Minister categorically conveyed India's position on the developments along the LAC, including in the Galwan valley in the Western sector of the India-China Border Areas, in the last few months.

The meeting took place in the backdrop of the standoff between India and China since April-May over the transgressions by the Chinese Army in multiple areas including Finger area, Galwan valley, Hot springs and Kongrung Nala in eastern Ladakh. (ANI)

Iran's President opens schools urging observance of 'strict' health measures

Iranian President Hussan Rouhani (File photo)

Tehran [Iran], September 5 (ANI/Xinhua): Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday officially announced the opening of new school year, state-run IRNA news agency reported.

Rouhani said "strict" measures will be adopted by the educational authorities to protect students' health.

He also advised teachers to include instructing health principles in education to help students stay safe.

On Tuesday, Iran's Education Ministry announced plans for reopening of schools in low-risk regions and said that classes of high-risk regions would be held online.

Iranian schools were closed for nearly four months during the last academic year as the novel coronavirus broke out across the country in February.

Iran on Friday reported a total of 382,772 cases of novel coronavirus in the country, of whom 22,044 have died. (ANI/Xinhua)

Russia records 5,205 COVID-19 cases within 24 hours

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Moscow [Russia], September 5 (ANI/Sputnik): Russia has registered 5,205 COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, which brings the cumulative total to 1,020,310, the country's coronavirus response centre said on Saturday.

"Over the past 24 hours, Russia has confirmed 5,205 COVID-19 cases in 84 regions, of which 1,249 (24 per cent) have been detected actively, with people showing no clinical symptoms," the response centre said in a statement.

Moscow recorded 671 cases, St. Petersburg registered 195 cases and the Moscow region confirmed 168 new cases.

In the same period, Russia recorded 110 deaths, bringing the total to 17,759 and 5,379 recoveries, taking the count to 838,126. (ANI/Sputnik)

12 dead, dozens suffer burn injuries in Bangladesh mosque air conditioner explosion

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Dhaka [Bangladesh], September 5 (ANI/Xinhua): Twelve worshippers including a boy died and dozens of others suffered serious burn injuries after air conditioners of a mosque burst on Friday night in Bangladesh's central Narayanganj district, an official said on Saturday morning.

Samanta Lal Sen, the coordinator of the Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery in Dhaka, told journalists that "12 people till Saturday morning died after being admitted to the institute with major burns on their bodies."

He said at least 37 injured were rushed to the institute on Friday night. Most of the victims suffered from 60 to 70 per cent burns, and the health condition of 25 others is also critical.

Fire officials suspected a gas leak when worshippers were about to leave the mosque after their Isha (night) prayers at around 9 pm (local time) on Friday. All eight air-conditioners on the ground floor burst into flames when there were reportedly around 100 worshippers at the three-storey mosque.

Shafiqul Islam, officer-in-charge of Fatullah Police Station in Narayanganj, said huge blasts caused window glasses of the mosque fly onto the street and burnt ceiling fans, wires and electric switchboards.

Kamrul Ahsan, a control room official at the fire service headquarters in Dhaka, said firemen managed to bring the flames under control after hectic efforts of around half an hour.

The Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence formed a committee to investigate the incident. (ANI/Xinhua)

China fails to tackle decade-long flooding problem, billions of dollars at stake

Three Gorges Dam in China (ANI)

Beijing [China], September 5 (ANI): China has built many reservoirs, levees, dikes and dams on its seven major river systems over the last several years but is still struggling with a surge in crippling floods, which has destroyed huge swathes of agricultural and industrial land and millions of homes.

Since 1950, China has witnessed three of the world's 10 most destructive floods. Flooding in cities is a worrying trend and getting worse, a sign of rising populations and failure to execute urbanisation policies, Bloomberg reported.

Last month, flooding in the Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest hydroelectric dam, on the Yangtze River peaked and officials feared it could overflow. Authorities elsewhere have blown up barriers that were creating more damage than help.

Over 40 per cent of China's population lives in the Yangtze River Economic Belt and accounts for nearly 50 per cent of export value and 45 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to China Water Risk, a research firm based in Hong Kong. The region, if taken as an independent entity, could be the third-largest economy in the world.

With the threat of severe disasters looming, a hydroclimatologist named Peter Gleick, a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, told the South China Morning Post that climate change is increasing the risks of extreme rainfall events, making it "even more likely that dams like the Three Gorges will be unable to prevent the worst flooding from occurring in the future."

If temperatures rise by 2 degrees Celsius, flows around Yangtze and other major rivers across the world will intensify, leading to a rise in the frequency of heavy flooding, according to a study.

A study using a rainfall record of over two periods between 1961 to 2010 found that heavy rain days are more frequent and intense in cities compared to suburban areas along the Yangtze River. On average, such days see an increase by 30 per cent in places like Suzhou, near Shanghai, known for wedding gowns, bridal exports and big tech factories, according to Bloomberg.

Last year, China pumped in 726 billion yuan in water conservancy conservation, which is the highest in history, according to CLSA Securities Ltd. Since the beginning of monsoon, flood management has been allocated 1.2 billion yuan in central government funds. But apart from this, trillions of yuan are being spent on COVID-19 recovery programmes, which also includes constructing a massive 5G capacity infrastructure to ensure future manufacturing capabilities.

It is true that climate change does increase the risk of huge floods. In the heavily industrialised Guangdong province, losses due to floods totalled around 30 billion yuan in 2015.

"Beijing's ministries have issued streams of climate change-related rules and targets, and China was at one point considered a leader. Constrained coffers, the viral outbreak, trade war with the US, and slowing economic growth will make it harder to put future floods and the like front of mind. That needs a rethink," according to the article in Bloomberg.

Insurance companies in China are still not prepared and risk-modelling on flood events has been more difficult. In 2016, non-life insurers in the country suffered losses amounting to over 4 billion yuan due to floods and storms between June and August.

Analysts of Fitch Ratings Inc, expect claim "to continue to surge as the rainy season is not over yet in certain parts of China."

They said insurers in Hubei, Guangxi and Jiangxi provinces on July 15 had incurred losses of over 500 million yuan of a week earlier, including claims from agricultural, motor and property insurance. (ANI)

Pak violates ceasefire in J-K's Poonch

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Poonch (Jammu and Kashmir) [India], September 5 (ANI): Pakistan violated ceasefire in Shahpur, Kirni and Degwar sectors in Poonch district here on Saturday morning.

The ceasefire violation began at 9:15 am by firing with small arms and intense shelling with mortars along the Line of Control.

Indian Army is retaliating befittingly. Further details are awaited. (ANI)

GoLearn, India's first Artificial Intelligence-powered English Language Teaching and Learning (ELTL) platform launched

Launch of GoLearn ELTL platform. (ANI)

New Delhi [India] September 5 (ANI/Mediawire): According to the United Nations, the COVID-19 pandemic has created the largest disruption of education systems in history, affecting nearly 1.6 billion learners in more than 190 countries, across all continents. Closures of schools and other learning spaces have impacted 94 per cent of the world's student population, and up to 99 per cent in low and lower-middle-income countries.

There is a global shortage of qualified English teachers with a growing demand for English and ever-increasing class sizes, resulting in UNESCO declaring a "Global Learning Crisis".

To bridge this gap, GoLearn (https://www.golearn.guru/India), India's first English Language Teaching & Learning (ELTL) platform powered by Artificial Intelligence was launched recently, that aligns with IGCSE, IB, CBSE, ICSE and State Board curricula, CEFR & PISA standards, and the Indian National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.

"India choosing to benchmark itself on PISA, which measures learning outcomes rather than rote outcomes, signals that India is changing its systems of education to adapt to the future. It is a massive signal," affirmed Junaid Ahmed, World Bank Country Director, India.

GoLearn's platform works using advanced Artificial Intelligence and evidenced pedagogies (Meta-cognition and self-regulation, Constructivism), as well as being underpinned by Bloom's and SOLO taxonomies, to ensure a high-quality and skills-based education is accessible and achievable for every student in India.

GoLearn is committed to improving the way education is delivered to enhance equal opportunities. Its goal is to improve learning outcomes, child-by-child in every classroom, to ensure all children are equipped with the literacy skills necessary to read-write and communicate their way to greater wellbeing.

GoLearn enables teachers with technology, it gives them a whole new set of tools to empower each and every student and help improve their attainment, confidence, wellbeing, and opportunities both in school and post-education.

GoLearn is working with schools around the world to help teachers deliver a world-class, skills-based, and personalized education programme to meet today's challenges in education.

Teachers are supported with lessons mapped to their schools' curriculum, which provide granular data at a deep level to create a Customized Learning Plan (CLP) for each child to help maximize their full potential, at their own pace.

How it works:
1. GoLearn uses 'Seamless Assessments' to get a baseline of pupils' learning levels.
2. Teachers can then utilize the assessment data to identify gaps in learning in real-time and instantly increase pupil outcomes
3. GoLearn's system provides a Customised Learning Plan for each pupil to help teachers craft positive interventions/remedies, both in the classroom and in a remote learning environment.

GoLearn officially launched its English Language Teaching & Learning (ELTL) platform on September 3rd, 2020, at the prestigious Methodist High School, Kanpur in a socially distanced gathering.

In attendance were distinguished educationalists & teachers from Methodist High School and keynote speakers from London running the proceedings, including GoLearn Founder and Chairman Alex Mirza and Amreesh Chandra Founder Project Out of School Children & Trustee St Paul's School, Gorakhpur.

"Literacy and language skills and the ability to communicate is central to the individual's physical and emotional needs and plays a massive role in the potential for their long-term prosperity. To empower a young learner with literacy, at a deep level, is to give them the fundamental opportunity to succeed and contribute to themselves and their communities - this should not be a luxury" said, Alex Mirza, Founder/Chairman, GoLearn.

"We at St Paul's School (www.stpauls.edu.in), Gorakhpur are happy to join hands with GoLearn as its AI-based English Language Teaching & Learning (ELTL) platform helps in preparing Global Citizens for the future.

GoLearn empowers the teachers to create Personalized Learning Plans, enables children to understand the concept, rather than rely on rote learning, and its highly insightful analytics and ensures that the schools can deliver Targeted Learning Outcomes. We are also keen to include this in our curriculum of Online World School (www.onlineworldschool.com) which offers live and interactive online schooling up to class eight," said Amreesh Chandra, Founder Project Out of School Children & Trustee St Paul's School, Gorakhpur.

Schools that implement GoLearn's low cost, high impact solutions for their teachers and students stand to gain the following benefits:
* Accurate and stress-free student assessments
* Clearly presented granular data to identify student gaps in learning
* Personalised lessons helping aid administration and reducing teacher workload
* Home/remote learning functionality for continuity in teaching and learning
* High-quality lesson content developed by experts in English language and literacy
* Helps schools self-evaluate and improve teaching and learning standards
* Improved student attainment, behavior, and outcomes

GoLearn India has partnered with Clara EdTech to connect, engage, and onboard schools in India. GoLearn is currently running a limited time Inaugural Offer for all schools in India, to help address and surpass their educational challenges and improve learning outcomes.

GoLearn. Empowering Children Through Literacy:
(Video Link to embed https://youtu.be/fI7HWkHns2A )

For a product demo and more information, contact Team Clara on +91-98102-15549 or email clara.partner@golearn.guru or visit https://www.golearn.guru/India.

This story is provided by Mediawire. ANI will not be responsible in any way for the content of this article. (ANI/Mediawire)

Russian Embassy in US proposes constructive dialogue on arms control to Pentagon

Flags of Russia and Unted States.

Washington [US], September 5 (ANI/Sputnik): The Russian Embassy in the United States has proposed a constructive face-to-face dialogue on the strategic stability and arms control to the Pentagon, Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov told Sputnik.

Several days ago, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear and Missile Defence Policy Robert Soofer said that Russia was initiating an arms race in the sphere of non-strategic weapons.

Antonov believes that these accusations are aimed at lowering the barrier of using nuclear weapons by the US.

"We would be ready to accept Soofer to have a discussion in the Embassy or meet him at any other US platform comfortable for him. This would be a good demonstration of our responsive approach to maintaining the strategic stability and arms control," Antonov said.

He stressed that the deployment of low-yield nuclear warheads by the US -- not Russian moves -- were destabilising the global system of nuclear deterrence. He cited the deployment of W76-2 low-yield nuclear warheads to Trident II submarines as an example.

The Ambassador said that the Pentagon should read the Russian document on nuclear deterrence published on June 2.

"The document reaffirms the exclusively defensive nature of our nuclear policy as well as contains clear conditions for the possible shift to using nuclear weapons," Antonov said.

According to the Ambassador, the constructive dialogue between Russia and the US was launched in June-August with meetings between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov and US Special Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea. (ANI/Sputnik)

Xi Jinping undertakes fresh round of brutal purge in China

Chinese President Xi Jinping (File photo)

Beijing [China], September 5 (ANI): Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members and government officials are running for cover as President Xi Jinping has launched a fresh round of purges, marking a major shake-up in the country.

Over two dozen police and judicial officials were investigated, with dozens more removed from their posts in August as part of his ongoing anti-corruption campaign.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, a senior ally to Xi's called for the purge in July, saying it was time to 'turn the blade of a knife inwards, cure the poison by scrapping it from the bones' that must cleanse the country's justice system of corrupt elements and purge officials who only paid lip service to the CCP. Millions of party cadres are potentially at risk of being targetted.

A "Yan'an Rectification Movement" style purge of party cadres was first announced by Chen Yixin on July 8 during a meeting of the Central Political and Legal Commission, a powerful policy-making body directly under the Communist Party's Central Committee.

Thousands of Chinese Communists were purged during Yan'an Rectification campaign carried out in 1942. The ones that could stay in the party were forced to 'unify their thinking' and toe the official line of Mao Zedong, the father of modern China. If they deviated from the official line, their fate was expulsion, torture and even death.

Last month, Wang Xiaohong, a close aide to Xi and the most Senior Vice Minister for Public Security, published a signed article about political discipline in the police force's official newspaper. Wang specifically warned that "two-faced people," those who officially pretend to obey but secretly resist will be thoroughly removed.

Wang's article has been shared widely by Xi's rival factions, including by members of the Communist Youth League. It is as if the Youth League is sending a coded message to its members: "A purge is coming. Everyone, be careful." In fact, there has already been a significant development noticed in that direction.

In mid-August, it was announced that Gong Daoan, Shanghai's Vice Mayor and top public security official, had been placed under investigation for serious disciplinary and law violations but no accusations favours being granted or charges of money changing hands. Gong is the third deputy ministerial-level public security official to fall from grace this year.

While proponents of the purges say they are based on the anti-corruption campaign, opponents say China's leader is targeting political rivals to keep them from taking power away from him.

Xi has made sweeping political crackdowns a key feature of his rule, eliminating his main political rivals. Ever since he became CCP General Secretary in 2012, he has overseen a massive anti-corruption drive with more than one million officials either disciplined or removed from their position. During Xi's first five years in office, 1.34 million officials were brought down over corruption, according to official data.

Xi does not have to fight an election. In 2018, he abolished term limits, effectively allowing him to remain President for life. However, he does need to continue to run campaigns to stay in power and avoid a potential challenge for his leadership particularly in the wake of the mishandling of Wuhan virus outbreak, ravaging economy and rising tensions with the United States and India. This means purging anyone who could pose a serious threat to that power.

In 2013, shortly after becoming China's President, Xi kicked off a political study campaign called "mass line educational practice activities" within the party, which led to the fierce "anti-corruption" campaign. During that process, there were calls for banning luxury and attaching importance to frugality.

Xi is again calling on the Chinese people to attach importance to saving money, even when they order at restaurants. Is he aiming to repeat the success of his past political campaigns? A similar atmosphere is taking shape across the country.

Before the party's last National Congress, in 2017, senior military officers were arrested for corruption one after another; some ended up killing themselves. The campaign ensnared an influential politician who had been widely seen as the front-runner to one day succeed Xi as China's top leader.

The new rectification campaign that started last month will continue till the time for the 20th Party Congress of the CCP to be held in 2022. If the party follows precedent, Xi would step down and be replaced by somebody else.

So this seemingly legal and judicial campaign is likely to be partly about his consolidating his own position in the party, even if Xi has already secured a tenure-for-life for the presidency when restrictions on the number of terms were removed during a session of the National People's Congress in 2018. (ANI)

Jaishankar Urges BRICS' Support In UN Security Council Reforms

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar during virtual meeting of BRICS Foreign Ministers on Friday. (Photo credits: S Jaishankar Twitter). ANI


New Delhi [India], September 5 (ANI): External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday urged full support of BRICS in reforming the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) as an exercise in collective faith in meaningful multilateralism.

He made the comments during a virtual meeting of the BRICS Foreign Ministers convened by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday.

"Thank Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov for convening the BRICS Foreign Ministers' Meeting today. Positively assessed the progress made during the Russian Chair, especially in counter-terrorism, economic cooperation, ICTs and people-to-people contacts," Jaishankar tweeted.

He said, "Exchanged views on the international situation and regional hotspots including Afghanistan and West Asia. Urged full support of BRICS in reforming UNSC as an exercise in our collective faith in meaningful multilateralism."

The BRICS ministers acknowledged the joint statement by BRICS Trade Ministers on Multilateral Trading System and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) reform on July 23 and reaffirmed their support for a transparent, open, inclusive and non-discriminatory rules-based multilateral trading system, as embodied in the WTO, according to a joint statement.

"They reiterated the importance of WTO reform and emphasised the central role of the WTO in promoting predictability, stability, and legal certainty for international trade. The ministers stressed the value of cooperation between states, both bilaterally and multilaterally," it said.

The ministers expressed their support for continuing the diplomatic negotiations in bilateral and multilateral formats to resolve all issues pertaining to the Korean Peninsula, including its denuclearisation, and maintain peace and stability in North-East Asia.

"They reaffirmed the commitment for a peaceful, diplomatic and political solution to the situation," the statement further said. (ANI)

US Ged chief says wearning marks, social-distancing measures could lead to "enormous economic gains"

US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell (File pic)

Washington [US], September 5 (ANI/Xinhua): US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said on Friday that wearing masks and social-distancing measures could lead to "enormous economic gains" for the US economy.

"So certainly to get us back to full employment, we're going to need to get the spread of the disease under control. And the best way to do that, short of arriving at a vaccine, is to take these social-distancing measures and employ them," Powell said in an interview with National Public Radio.

"There are actually enormous economic gains to be had nationwide from people wearing masks and keeping their distance," he said.

Powell's remarks came after the Labor Department reported earlier Friday that U.S. employers added 1.4 million jobs in August and the unemployment rate dropped to 8.4 per cent.

"While we've gotten something like 11 million people back to work, there's still another 10 or 11 (million) who are not back to work," Powell said, adding it will take a long time for the labour market to fully recover from the pandemic.

"In a sense, those maybe some of the harder jobs to find because there are some parts of the economy that will take longer to recover. So travel, entertainment, hotels, things like that," he said.

Powell also said the central bank will keep short-term interest rates at the record-low level of near zero for a long period to support the economic recovery.

"We think that the economy's going to need low-interest rates, which support economic activity for an extended period of time," he said. "It will be measured in years ... we're not going to prematurely withdraw the support that we think the economy needs."

The Fed cut interest rates to near-zero at two unscheduled meetings in March and began purchasing massive quantities of U.S. treasuries and agency mortgage-backed securities to repair financial markets. It also unveiled new lending programs to provide up to 2.3 trillion U.S. dollars to support the economy in response to the coronavirus outbreak. (ANI/Xinhua)

World Bank cancels loan to Lebanon for Bisri Dam Project

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Washington [US], September 5 (ANI/Sputnik): The World Bank has canceled USD 224 million loan to the government of Lebanon for the proposed Bisri Dam Project because it failed to fulfil preconditions required before the funds were disbursed, the organization said in a press release.

"The World Bank today notified the Government of Lebanon (GOL) of its decision to cancel the undisbursed funds under the Water Supply Augmentation Project (Bisri Dam Project) due to non-completion of the tasks that are preconditions to the commencement of construction of the Bisri Dam," the release said on Friday.

"The canceled portion of the loan is USD 244 million and the cancellation is effective immediately."
Lebanon failed to meet the Friday deadline to finalize the Ecological Compensation Plan and to mobilize a contractor at the dam project worksite, the release said. The government also failed to finalize operation and maintenance arrangements by August 24.

The World Bank had raised these issues with Lebanon since January, as per the release. (ANI/Sputnik)

PM Modi is a friend of mine, he is doing a very good job: Trump

US President Donald Trump (Photo: ANI)

Washington [US], September 5 (ANI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi is "a friend of mine," and is a 'great leader,' said US President Donald Trump on Friday (local time).

"Prime Minister Modi is a friend of mine and he is doing a very good job. It's nothing easy but he is doing a very good job. You have got a great leader and you have got a great person," he told reporters at a media briefing here.

Further speaking about his two-day visit along with First Lady Melania Trump to India in February this year, he added, "We had an incredible time and what we saw that the people are so incredible. It's an incredible place and country, and it's definitely big."

Speaking about the Howdy Modi event in Huston, he appreciated PM Modi adding that "he couldn't have been more generous".

"We had an event in Huston and it was a fantastic event. It was incredible. Prime Minister Modi (Narendra Mod) could not have been more generous--we have great support from India and PM Modi. I think Indian people would be voting for Trump," he said. (ANI)

US ready to help in India-China border tensions: Trump

US President Donald Trump. ANI

Washington [US], September 5 (ANI): US President Donald Trump on Friday (local time) termed the ongoing tensions at the India-China border as a "very nasty situation," further adding that "if we can do anything we would love to get involved and help."

"It has been a very nasty situation and we stand ready to help with respect to China and India. If we can do anything we would love to get involved and help. We are talking to both countries about that," Trump said.

The situation with China has been tense and India is continuously engaging with them at the military and diplomatic level, Army Chief General MM Naravane said on Friday, in an exclusive interview with ANI.

At least two rounds of Brigade-Commander level talks have taken place ever since China tried to unilaterally change the status quo.

India and China are engaged in a standoff since April-May over the transgressions by the Chinese Army in multiple areas including the Finger area, Galwan valley, Hot springs, and Kongrung Nala.

The situation worsened after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in violent clashes with Chinese troops in Galwan valley in June. The talks between the two sides have been going on for the last three months including five Lieutenant General-level talks but have failed to yield any results, so far.

When asked about whether China was bullying India or not, he answered, "I hope not but they are going more strongly at it than a lot of people even understand."

Trump further slammed China stating, "China at this point is the nation you should be talking about much more so than Russia because the things that China is doing are far worse. Look at what happened with the China virus, look at what they have done to 188 countries all over the world."

Trump further said that he "gets along with every country" apart from China as he "did not like what is happening with respect to the pandemic". "I do not like it at all. What they have done to this world, this country, Europe and every place else is terrible," he added.

(ANI)

Indian people would be voting for Trump: US Prez

US President Donald Trump speaking to reporters on Friday (local time)

Washington [US], September 5 (ANI): US President Donald Trump on Friday (local time) said that he believes the Indian-American community would vote for him in the upcoming presidential elections.

"I do!" he said at a media briefing when asked if he thinks the Indian Americans would vote for him in the upcoming elections.

"I do! Last year, we had an event in Huston and it was a fantastic event. It was incredible. Prime Minister Modi (Narendra Mod) could not have been more generous--we have great support from India and PM Modi. I think Indian people would be voting for Trump," he said.

He further went on to hail PM Modi as a 'great leader' and a 'great person'.

"PM Modi is a very good friend of mine and he is doing a very good job, it's nothing easy but he is doing a very good job. You have got a great leader and you have got a great person," Trump added.
Further speaking about his two-day visit along with First Lady Melania Trump to India in February this year, he added, "We had an incredible time and what we saw that the people are so incredible. It's an incredible place and country, and it's definitely big."

The US Presidential elections are scheduled to be held on November 3, this year. (ANI)

China has largest program to interfere in US Presidential Election: White House Adviser

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Washington [US], September 5 (ANI/Sputnik): China has the most massive program to influence the United States politically, said White House National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien on Friday.

"When it comes to elections, and the Intelligence Committee has made it very clear, is that first you have China, which has the most massive program to influence the United States politically, you have Iran, you have Russia," O'Brien said in a press briefing. "These are all three emissary countries that are seeking to disrupt our election."

O'Brien said that China is undertaking massive cyber activities aimed to target the United States. However, Washington is taking a strong counter-action and will eventually prevail, he added.

"We've made it very clear to the Chinese, the Russians, the Iranians and others that have not been publicly disclosed that anyone who attempts to interfere with the American elections will face extraordinary consequences," O'Brien said.

In early August, US National Counterintelligence and Security Center Director William Evanina said, according to the US intelligence community's estimates, China wanted US President Donald Trump to lose in the upcoming presidential election in November, while Russia was allegedly working to denigrate Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

Evanina made the allegations without providing evidence that Kremlin-linked actors are seeking to support Trump's candidacy on social media and on Russian television. In addition, the official said that apart from China, Iran was also expected to make efforts to prevent Trump from being re-elected.

Russia has repeatedly denied being involved in the US political system, saying such acts run contrary to the principles of Moscow's foreign policy. (ANI/Sputnik)

Trump has no sense of service, loyalty: Beden

Joe Biden (File Photo)

Washington [US], September 5 (ANI): Attacking the US President Donald Trump, Democratic Party Presidential candidate Joe Biden on Friday said that Trump has "no sense of service, loyalty other than himself".

These remarks come after Trump called the wounded soldiers and those who died in the war as "suckers and losers", reports CNN quoting The Atlantic. However, Trump denied the report calling it a fake story.

"If it's true, and based on everything he's said I believe the article's true, I'd ask you all the rhetorical question: How do you feel? How would you feel if you had a kid in Afghanistan right now? How would you feel if you lost a son, daughter, husband, wife? How would you feel, for real?" CNN reported quoting Biden at a speech in Delaware.

"Duty, honor, country: These are values that drive our service members, an all-voluntary outfit. President Trump has demonstrated he has no sense of service; no loyalty to any cause other than himself," he added.

Further slamming the Trump's remark, the Democratic presidential nominee said that he has never been "so disappointed" with the President than he has been with any leader he has "worked with."
"I've never been as disappointed in my whole career with a leader I've worked with -- President or otherwise. It is absolutely damnable. It is a disgrace," The Democratic nominee said further.

As per CNN, Biden told reporters that he decided to leave a Gold Star at home given to him by the Delaware National Guard to honour his deceased son Beau who served in the military in Iraq because "I was worried that if I focused too much on it that I would engage in some of the kind of language the President's used. I just think it is sick. It is deplorable. It is so un-American. It is so unpatriotic," Biden said.

He further said that Trump must "humbly apologise to every Gold Star mother and father and every Blue Star family that he has denigrated and insulted. Who the heck does he think he is?"
Biden said that he would ensure that those who have been injured "will be in military parades".

"If I have the honour to be the next commander in chief, I will ensure that our American heroes know that I have their back, honor their sacrifice, and those that have been injured will be in military parades.

Biden further called Trump "lousy President" adding that the words of the President matter as it gives encouragement to people "who are spouting international views".

"This cannot go on. It's a deconstruction of a democratic system. The words of a president matter -- even a lousy president. It gives encouragement to people who are spouting irrational views," Biden said further.

The US Presidential elections are set to take place on November 3, this year. (ANI)

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