Friday, September 18, 2020

Philippine President extends state of calamity by 1 year due to COVID-19

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Manila [Philippines], September 18 (ANI/Sputnik): Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte extended on Friday the state of calamity over COVID-19 by one year to September 2021.


"Through Proclamation No. 1021, the State of Calamity throughout the Philippines is extended for one year effective September 1
3, 2020 to September 12, 2021," the document, posted by the presidential office, said.

Initially, the authorities declared a six-month state of calamity in mid-March. According to the presidential office, despite all efforts, COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to grow. The state of calamity can be canceled earlier if the epidemiological situation improves.

Separately, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said at a briefing that all cemeteries and columbaria will be closed from October 29 to November 4, when Catholics celebrate All Souls' Day. Only minors and elderly people will be allowed to visit these places.

The Philippines has confirmed 3,257 COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, taking the total to nearly 280,000. Of these, 208,790 patients have recovered, and 4,830 have died. (ANI/Sputnik)

Nepal begins its first broad-gauge railway service trials

Nepal began its first broad-gauge railway service trials. 


Janakpur [Nepal], September 18 (ANI): Trial for Nepal's first broad-gauge railway service in Janakpur has begun from Friday with the arrival of two sets of rail to revive operation in the Janakpur-Jaynagar section.


Remained halted for past six years for upgrade, the previous narrow-gauge- now a broa
d gauge is expected to come into operation after Dashain-Tihar. With its operation, the first trans-border railway connection between two neighbours would again be established.

"I am very very happy as it is set to resume which shows the united work of Indian and Nepali Government. It would prove best for the people of Mithilanchal to ferry and also would increase comfort of people," Ram Lakhan Tapar from Janakpur who came to see the arriving train told ANI.

"With the operation of rail, it would be easy for us to go to India to buy and bring things from there. Before its resumption we have to take the express vehicles, now anyone can go to India and meet relatives which would shorten traveling time. Now we will get means to ferry to and fro which also would ease the tension," Tapar added.

People gathered in large numbers at halt station in Janakpur on Friday afternoon to see and welcome the arriving train procured by Government of Nepal from Konkan Railways of India.

Nepal's Railway Department has procured the rail engines and coaches from Kokan India for 84 Crore 65 Lakhs Nepali rupees.

Operated using Diesel and Electricity, each set has 5 bogies (coaches). Out of them one is AC coach while three are General bogies. One of the set's engine has been designed with the capacity to accommodate passengers. Combining the 5 bogies, it bears the capacity of 1 Thousand and 3 hundred passengers at a time.

The 34 Kilometer broad gauge railway track has been built in Indian assistance. It would revive the earlier Janakpur-Jaynagar railways connection between India and Nepal. Further work of extending railways track from Kurtha to Bijalapur of Mahottari measuring 17 Kilometers is underway.

The Kurtha-Jaynagar Railway measuring 35 kilometres in length section was constructed with the technical and financial support of India. The railway is likely to come into operation after Dashain and Tihar festivals. (ANI)

PM Modi wishes Israeli counterpart on occasion of Rosh Hashanah





New Delhi [India], September 18 (ANI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday greeted his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu on the occasion of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.


"Warm Rosh Hashanah greetings to my friend @netanyahu, the people of Israel and to the Jewish community all over the
 world. May the new year bring good health, peace and prosperity in everyone's life. Shana Tova!" PM Modi wrote on Twitter.

Rosh Hashanah means 'head of the year'. It is a two-day celebration that marks the beginning of Jewish High Holy Days each autumn. (ANI)

Defence, security aspect of India-Japan relationship has progressed fast, says EAM

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar (Photo: ANI)


New Delhi [India], September 18 (ANI): External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar on Friday said that defence and security aspect of India-Japan relationship has progressed remarkably fast even though it is a new component of the bilateral relationship.


"The Defence and Security aspect of relation
ship has been a new aspect of the relationship. It has actually progressed remarkably fast and remarkably well. I note that with Japan, we have both annual summit and 2 plus 2 meeting. It is probably the only country with which we have both," EAM said.

The Minister also noted that the recent development in this regard was signing of reciprocal supply and services agreement.

"It is a practical manifestation of our ability and intent of working together. I am confident that it would both be a big plus for the evolution of Indo-Pacific vision of both countries as well as adding to the stability and security of Asia," he said.

The EAM said India-Japan relationship has acquired many facets. "It is really, I would say, a broader agenda, larger playing field, many more facets, so it has got a sort of complexity and substance today. To my mind that reflects the journey of the last 25 years," he said.

The Minister said there has also been rebalancing of Asia.

"If I were to look little beyond the horizon, I would flag two issues for people to think about. We need to see those areas where we can work together. One of course is the possibility of economic cooperation in Russia's far east because India has shown much greater willingness to be involved in economic projects there," he said.

EAM said the other is the Pacific island countries where again if you look at "our development partnership and political footprint, including Pacific forum, that has grown significantly."

Jaishankar said we have taken the bilateral economic relationship to a different level.

"A country of the size of India needs to have an employment-centred economy. We cannot have a manufacturing hollowed by imports which come at sort of non-market prices. Atmanirbhar Bharat is about manufacturing. It is about creating jobs," he said. (ANI)

Ananya Panday shares glimpse from Ishaan Khatter co-starrer 'Khaali Peeli'

Picture shared by Ananya Panday (Image courtesy: Instagram)


Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], September 18 (ANI): Actor Ananya Panday on Friday shared an intriguing glimpse from her upcoming film 'Khaali -Peeli' wherein she is seen with a rifle all set to shoot with a smirky smile.


The 'Student of The Year 2' shared a post on Instagram that features the actor do
lled up in Indian avatar. In the snap, Ananya is seen sporting a pink top while she tries to aim with an eye close. The second picture featured in the post shows Ananya having a hard time trying to shoot while Ishaan Khatter is seen helping her by supporting from the arms.

Along with the picture, Panday added a quirky caption that read, "not just ankhiyon se goli mare (ing) anymore ..... ok I think @ishaankhatter doesn't trust me w(ith) a toy. (tbh I wouldn't trust me too) #KhaaliPeeli @macriaan # 2nd October on @zeeplexofficial."

For the upcoming movie, Ananya has taken things a notch higher and will be seen performing action scenes for the first time on-screen.

Helmed by debutant director Maqbool Khan and backed by filmmaker Ali Abbas Zafar, Himanshu Mehra, and Zee Studios, the film also stars 'Paatal Lok' actor Jaideep Ahlawat.

'Khaali Peeli' went on the floors in September last year and was scheduled for a June 12 release but was delayed due to the shuttering of film theatres. The movie will start streaming on OTT platform Zeeplex from October 2.(ANI)

Powers vested under AFSPA exceeded during Amshipora operation: PRO Defence Srinagar

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Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir) [India], September 18 (ANI): The inquiry ordered by the Army authorites into Operation Amshipora has concluded, said PRO Defence, Srinagar adding that during the operation, powers vested under the AFSPA 1990 were exceeded.


According to an official release, the inquiry ha
s brought out certain prima facie evidence indicating that during the operation, powers vested under the AFSPA 1990 were exceeded and the Do's and Don'ts of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) as approved by the Supreme Court have been contravened.

Consequently, the competent disciplinary authority has directed to initiate disciplinary proceedings under the Army Act against those found prima-facie answerable.

The evidence collected by the inquiry has prima-facie indicated that the three unidentified terrorists killed in Op Amshipora were Imtiyaz Ahmed, Abrar Ahmed and Mohd Ibrar, who hailed from Rajouri. Their DNA report is awaited. Their involvement with terrorism or related activities is under investigation by the police.

Indian Army is committed to the ethical conduct of operations. Further updates on the case will be given periodically without affecting the due process of the law of the land. (ANI)

Ties between India, Japan have become strategic; visible increase in economic cooperation : EAM Jaishankar

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar


New Delhi [India], September 18 (ANI): External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday said that the relationshiop between India and Japan has become strategic and there has been a very visible increase in economic cooperation between the two countries with an increase in foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows from Japan.


"FDI inflows from Japan have gone up. The number of Japanese companies in India has gone up. ODA (Official development assistance) disbursements and projects which Japan is doing through that have scaled up," Jaishnakar said at the launch of India-Japan report by FICCI,.

The external affairs minister further said that the fact Japan is the only country with which India has an annual summit as well as 2 plus 2 dialogue "tells how much more in sync we have become in terms of how we look at the world and define our interests."

"This relationship has become strategic, each country perceives developments in others as having a strategic relevance to their calculations and we are talking much more about issues which go beyond our relatively narrow interests," he said.

"Indian and Japanese leaders when they meet and talk now, the breadth of their conversation, landscape of interaction and the playing arena has become broader. That's an important development, signifies maturing of relationship," he added. (ANI)

Islamabad High Court issues arrest warrants for former Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif

Former Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif


Islamabad [Pakistan], September 18 (ANI): Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday said Pakistan High Commission in London has received the arrest warrants of former premier Nawaz Sharif.


ARY News quoted Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri as confirming that Nawaz Sharif's a
rrest warrants issued by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had been received by the foreign ministry on Thursday.

The IHC Registrar Office on Thursday had started implementing the orders and also issued notice to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the matter.

ARY News further reported that the IHC had released the arrest warrants of Nawaz Sharif in Al-Azizia and Avenfield cases. A copy has also been sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for assisting the relevant authorities to arrest the former premier who is currently residing in London.

The HC directed the authorities concerned to produce Sharif on September 22 for the next hearing.

On September 15, the IHC had rejected the exemption plea of Nawaz Sharif and released non-bailable arrest warrants in Al-Azizia and Avenfield cases. (ANI)

Consular Services in Cardiff, Belfast resume: India in the UK

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London [UK], September 18 (ANI): The High Commission of India in London on Friday announced the resumption of Consular Services in Cardiff and Belfast.


"The High Commission has also opened up appointments for various Consular Services to almost normal levels," India in the UK tweeted.

The Consular S
ervices for Cardiff will be held thrice a week.

According to the latest update by the Johns Hopkins University, 30,205,908 people around the world have been infected with the coronavirus and 946,685 people have succumbed to the disease.

In the UK, as many as 384,087 people have tested positive of COVID-19 and 41,794 deaths have been reported so far. (ANI)

UN Human Rights office urges Chinese authorities to ensure due process rights to 12 Hong Kongers arrested at sea

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Hong Kong, September 18 (ANI):
UN Human Rights Office on Friday urged Chinese authorities to ensure due process rights to twelve of its residents seeking to flee to Taiwan and arrested at sea.

"We urge Chinese authorities to ensure due process rights to group of 12 Hong Kongers arrested at sea, incl
uding swift access to legal representation of their choosing," United Nations Human Rights office said in a tweet.

The Hong Kong government had said it will not interfere in the arrest of Hong Kongers by Chinese authorities when they were trying to flee to Taiwan.

The group was suspected of committing "various criminal offences" in Hong Kong, it added, as it urged the families to make use of a free legal consultation service provided.

Taiwan has opened its doors to people of Hong Kong who are escaping the city, which is rocked by months of protests and where China recently imposed a controversial national security law but has said they must arrive legally.

The Chinese foreign ministry in a statement had confirmed that the group comprised 11 men and a woman, aged 16 to 33 have been detained while they were trying to escape China.

According to earlier Hong Kong media reports, among the people arrested was pro-democracy activist Andy Li.

Li is among the other pro-democracy activists including Agnes Chow and Jimmy Lai who were arrested on August 10 under the draconian National Security Law.

Since the enactment of draconian law, several pro-democracy activists have been fleeing for a safe haven to other countries.

Beijing had imposed the National Security Law in Hong Kong in June targeting acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, with punishments of up to life in prison for the most serious offences.

The move came after months of social upheaval triggered by opposition to a now-withdrawn extradition bill but that morphed into wider demands, including universal suffrage.

The legislation, which came into effect on July 1, punishes what Beijing terms secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference with punishment ranging up to a life-term in prison. (ANI) 

Australian Judge resigns from Hong Kong appeals court over Security Law

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Hong Kong, September 18 (ANI/Sputnik): Australian Judge James Spigelman has resigned from the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal over the new national security law, the administrative region's government announced on Friday.


"It is hereby notified that, ... the Chief Executive the Honourable Mrs. Carri
e Lam ... has revoked the appointment of The Honourable Mr. Justice James Spigelman as a Judge from another common law jurisdiction of the Court of Final Appeal ... with effect from 2 September 2020," the decree read.

The city's Court of Appeal, which was handed over by the United Kingdom to China in 1997, has several non-permanent judges from the Commonwealth nations. Spigelman had served in the court since 2013 and his current term was not due to expire until 2022.

The former judge told the Australian ABC broadcaster that he had resigned for reasons "related to the content of the national security legislation."

According to the media outlet, citing a Hong Kong lawyer, the Court of Final appeal could be caught up in political controversy, as it might preside over the trials of protesters and activists arrested under the new law.

The Chinese government enacted the national security law in Hong Kong in late June. The law adjusts security policies in Hong Kong to Beijing's perception of crime and punishment concerning separatism, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign countries.

Beijing has urged those who have criticised the new law, including Australia, to cease their interference in China's internal matters. (ANI/Sputnik)

Czech Republic reports month-worth number of new COVID-19 cases in one day

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Prague [Czech Republic], September 18 (ANI/Sputnik): The increase in the number of coronavirus cases in the Czech Republic over the past day was equivalent to the entire toll of cases detected in March, the Czech Ministry of Health said on Friday.


"The number of new daily coronavirus cases has for t
he first time surpassed 3,000 and reached 3,130. The number of active cases is 20,289, including 413 hospitalised patients, including 91 in serious condition," the ministry said.

The Czech Republic reported its first coronavirus cases on March 1 and by the end of the month the cumulative toll grew to 3,002 cases.

As of Friday, the overall number of coronavirus cases confirmed by the Czech health authorities has reached 44,155, including 489 fatalities and 23,377 recoveries. The capital of Prague remains the country's worst outbreak, with 191 cases per 100,000 population registered in the past seven days.

In the country with a population of nearly 11 million people, a total of 1.1 million tests have been conducted so far.

Beginning from Friday, the Czech Health Ministry toughened up the coronavirus-related restrictive measures, banning indoor public assembly of more than 10 people and limiting the operation hours of food services from midnight to 6 a.m. In schools, teachers and students were told to wear face masks at all times. (ANI/Sputnik)

Berlin says OPCW continues probe of Navalny case, results to be provided later

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Berlin [Germany], September 18 (ANI/Sputnik): The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is continuing the probe of Alexey Navalny case and will provide results later, the spokeswoman for the German Foreign Ministry, Maria Adebahr, said Friday.


"As far as we know, the OPCW inves
tigation continues. We have not had the results yet," Adebahr told a briefing.

On Thursday, Navalny's official Instagram account said that there were traces of Novichok substance -- with which he was allegedly poisoned --on bottles from his room in Xander Hotel in the city of Tomsk. After the staff of Navalny's foundation found out he was hospitalized, they called a lawyer, went up to Navalny's room and began registering, describing and packing everything they saw there, including hotel water bottles.

Berlin took notice of this message, the spokesman for the German government, Steffen Seibert, said.

"I would like to refer you to Navalny's team for all questions on this video. We have said all we want to say in press releases and statements, including those of the chancellor," Seibert said, when asked if Germany now had the bottles.

When asked if Berlin could transfer the bottles to Russia as potential evidence, Seibert said there was nothing to add to the statements of German toxicology experts and statements of France and Sweden. (ANI/Sputnik)

Bill proposed by US lawmakers seeks to impose restrictions related to Xinjiang over human rights abuses

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Washington [US], September 18 (ANI): A bill proposed by leading US lawmakers seeks to impose various restrictions related to China's Xinjiang region including prohibiting certain imports.


China has been accused of massive human rights abuses in Muslim-majority Xinjiang locking up lakhs of people in 
so-called re-education camps. The US and China have sparred over the issue with the former imposing range of sanctions on CCP officials and entities involved in the human rights violations in the region.

According to the legislation proposed by James McGovern, goods manufactured or produced in Xinjiang shall not be entitled to entry into the United States unless Customs and Border Protection determines that the goods were not manufactured by convict labour, forced labour, or indentured labour under penal sanctions and reports such a determination to Congress and to the public.

The legislation also says that the President shall periodically report to Congress a list of foreign entities and individuals knowingly facilitating the forced labour of Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and members of other Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang; and efforts to contravene US laws regarding the importation of forced labour goods from Xinjiang.

It also states that the President shall impose property-blocking sanctions on the listed individuals and entities and impose visa-blocking sanctions on the listed individuals.

China has been criticised globally for cracking down on the Uyghurs by sending them to mass detention camps, interfering in their religious activities and sending members of the community to undergo some form of forcible re-education or indoctrination.

In another crackdown on China, the United States has banned cotton, hair products, computer components and some textiles from China's Xinjiang province, which are made "using forced labour".

"By taking this action, DHS is combating illegal and inhumane forced labor, a type of modern slavery, used to make goods that the Chinese government then tries to import into the United States. When China attempts to import these goods into our supply chains, it also disadvantages American workers and businesses," said Acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli.

"President Trump and this Department have, and always will, put American workers and businesses first and protect American citizens from participating in these egregious human rights violations," Cuccinelli said.

"The Trump Administration will not stand idly by and allow foreign companies to subject vulnerable workers to forced labor while harming American businesses that respect human rights and the rule of law," said Acting CBP Commissioner Mark A. Morgan. (ANI)

Existence of communal harmony in Bangladesh

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman


Dhaka [Bangladesh], September 18 (ANI): The people in Bangladesh are celebrating 2020-21 as the Mujib Year to commemorate the father of the nation Sheikh Mujibur Rahman for safeguarding communal harmony in the country.


Communal harmony is one of the important features to uphold the Constitution of B
angladesh. Religious harmony has existed in Bengali culture for thousands of years.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in one of his speeches said, "There are Hindus, Muslims, Bengalis, non-Bengalis in this Bengal. They are our brothers. It is our responsibility to protect them so that we are not discredited."

Inspired by Bangabandhu's non-communal spirit, harmony was achieved through the great liberation war in 1971 with the regular consciousness cherished by the honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

The current status of harmony has become stronger.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina once said, "People of all religions will enjoy the freedom to practice their religion. Bangladesh will be built in a non-communal spirit and will be developed with prosperity".

In Muslim-majority Bangladesh, the Hindus continue to remain second-largest religion constituting around 10 per cent of the population. Buddhists and Christians also live in great harmony. (ANI)

US charges five Chinese nationals for global hacking operations affecting over 100 companies

The five Chinese hackers wanted by the FBI


Washington [US], September 18 (ANI): The United States has charged five Chinese nationals and two Malaysian nationals over global hacking operations affecting more than 100 companies for at least six years.

According to a press statement issued by the US Justice Department, the hackers intruded into over 100 companies in the US and other countries including software development companies, computer hardware manufacturers, telecommunications providers, social media companies, video game companies, non-profit organisations, universities, think tanks and foreign governments, as well as pro-democracy politicians and activists in Hong Kong.

While the five Chinese defendants remain fugitives, two Malaysians were arrested in Malaysia this week and are facing extradition proceedings to the US.

"The defendants associated with Chengdu 404 employed sophisticated hacking techniques to gain and maintain access to victim computer networks. One example was the defendants' use of "supply chain attacks," in which the hackers compromised software providers and then modified the providers' code to facilitate further intrusions against the software providers' customers" the statement informed.

"Another example was the hackers' use of C2 "dead drops," which are seemingly legitimate web pages that the hackers created, but which were surreptitiously encoded instructions to their malware. However, they also employed publicly available exploits and tools, including the following common vulnerabilities and exposures ("CVE"): CVE-2019-19781, CVE-2019-11510, CVE-2019-16920, CVE-2019-16278, CVE-2019-1652/CVE-2019-1653, and CVE-2020-10189," it said.

"The Department of Justice has used every tool available to disrupt the illegal computer intrusions and cyberattacks by these Chinese citizens," said Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen. "Regrettably, the Chinese communist party has chosen a different path of making China safe for cybercriminals so long as they attack computers outside China and steal intellectual property helpful to China."

"Today's charges, the related arrests, seizures of malware and other infrastructure used to conduct intrusions and coordinated private sector protective actions reveal yet again the department's determination to use all of the tools at its disposal and to collaborate with the private sector and nations who support the rule of law in cyberspace," said Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers. "This is the only way to neutralise malicious nation-state cyber activity."

"Today's announcement demonstrates the ramifications faced by the hackers in China but it is also a reminder to those who continue to deploy malicious cyber tactics that we will utilize every tool we have to administer justice," said FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich.

"The arrests in Malaysia are a direct result of partnership, cooperation and collaboration. As the cyber threat continues to evolve larger than any one agency can address, the FBI remains committed to being an indispensable partner to our federal, international and private sector partners to stop rampant cybercrime and hold those carrying out these kind of actions accountable," he added.

"The scope and sophistication of the crimes in these unsealed indictments is unprecedented. The alleged criminal scheme used actors in China and Malaysia to illegally hack, intrude and steal information from victims worldwide," said Michael R. Sherwin, Acting US Attorney for the District of Columbia.

"As set forth in the charging documents, some of these criminal actors believed their association with the PRC provided them free license to hack and steal across the globe. This scheme also contained a new and troubling cyber-criminal component - the targeting and utilization of gaming platforms to both defraud video game companies and launder illicit proceeds," Sherwin added. (ANI)

Anushka Sharma thanks PM Modi after he congratulated her, Virat Kohli as they are expecting their first baby

Celebrity couple Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli (Image Source: ANI)


New Delhi [India], September 18 (ANI): A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi responded to cricketer Virat Kohli's birthday message by congratulating him and his actor wife Anushka Sharma for their pregnancy, Anushka on Friday responded and thanked the Prime Minister.


Virat Kohli had on Thursday w
ished the Prime Minister on his 70th birthday on Twitter to which, Modi replied by congratulating him and his actor wife Anushka Sharma for their pregnancy.

"Thank you @imVkohli! I would also like to congratulate @AnushkaSharma and you. I am sure you will be amazing parents!" replied the Prime Minister.

Sharma responded to the Prime Minister's congratulatory message and wished him good health always.

"Thank you sir for your lovely wish! Hope you had a great birthday! Wishing you good health always," tweeted Anushka Sharma.

The celebrity couple earlier last month broke the internet when they announced that they are expecting a baby. (ANI)

At least 14 people injured in Nicaragua capital after powerful Tornado

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Managua [Nicaragua], September 18 (ANI/Sputnik): At least 14 people sustained slight injuries as a result of a powerful tornado in the Nicaraguan capital of Managua, Secretary-General of the city administration Fidel Moreno said.


"We have 72 houses ... damaged and five more fully destroyed, as well 
as received reports about at least 14 people with slight injuries," Moreno said on late Thursday.

The tornado hit four quarters of the Nicaraguan capital in the early hours of Managua and caused some damages there. The list of the damaged buildings includes a hospital. (ANI/Sputnik)

India, US, Australia interested in building China's dream Kra Canal Project in Thailand: Report

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Thailand counterpart Prayut Chan-o-Cha. (Photo: ANI)


Bangkok [Thailand], September 18 (ANI): In a major blow to China, Thailand has claimed that many countries including India, US, as well as Australia, have shown interest in building in strategically proposed Kra Canal in the Southern part of the country.


China had been eyeing to construct a 120-kilo
metre mega canal cutting through the isthmus of Kra in Thailand. It would have helped Beijing in solving the 'Malacca Dilemma' as it had opened the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean, bypassing the Strait of Malacca.

Thai Nation Power Party MP Songklod Thipparat, who chairs the parliament's group that studies the project's feasibility, said that countries such as India, Australia, the US, and of course China are willing to support Thailand on the project, Khaosod English, a Thai newspaper, reported.

"They want to sign a memorandum of understanding with us," Songklod said in an interview. "Foreign embassies have contacted us to get the latest status on the project."

He added, "More than 30 foreign firms have shown an interest in investing or supplying us with financial and technical support to build the canal."

The Strait of Malacca is a major bottleneck in China's global ambitions. 80 per cent of China's oil supplies pass through the Malacca Strait, apart from forming its trade routes to the Middle East and Europe. But India's geographical position is such that it can easily block the Western side of the Strait of Malacca.

If Thailand chooses one of three quad members interested in the project, it will be a heavy blow to China's ambitions to dominate the region.

In recent time, Thailand is acting cautiously in dealing with China. Recently it was reported that Thailand, which once was the strongest ally of China in the South China Sea region, had decided to not only postpone the procurement of two submarines from China but has also put on hold the Chinese proposal for building a canal in the Bay of Bengal and replaced it with its own project. (ANI)

Jaishankar, Mexican counterpart agree to cooperate in economic recovery progress

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar (File photo)


New Delhi [India], September 18 (ANI): External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday held a "warm conversation" with his Mexican counterpart Marcelo Ebrard C and discussed the shared global perspectives and agreed to cooperate closely in the economic recovery progress of the two countries amid the COVID-19 pandemic.


"Warm conversation with FM @m_ebrard of Mexico. Discussed our shared global perspectives as we enter the UNSC together next year. Agreed that as Privileged Partners we should cooperate closely in our economic recovery process. Hope to hold an early Joint Commission Meeting," Jaishankar said in a tweet.

Both Mexico and India have been elected as non-permanent members of the UN Security Council for a two-year term that begins from January 1 next year. (ANI)

Canadian opposition leader says will ban Huawei from 5G

Canadian opposition leader Erin O'Toole (Photo source: Erin O'Toole Twitter)


Toronto [Canada], September 18 (ANI/Sputnik): A Conservative government in Canada will ban Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei from the development of the country's 5G network, party leader Erin O'Toole said ahead of a possible fall election.


"Unlike (Prime Minister) Justin Trudeau, I do not tak
e entities of the Chinese regime at their word. If I am (Prime Minister) Huawei will be banned from 5G," O'Toole said in a tweet on Thursday.

Canada is the last of the so-called Five Eyes intelligence-sharing allies with Australia, New Zealand and the UK not to rule out Huawei's involvement in the 5G development. Canada has faced mounting pressure from senior US officials to prohibit Huawei's participation.

The incumbent Liberal government has said Canada will not be swayed by outside jurisdictions when making a decision on Huawei's participation in its 5G development.

An election can be triggered as early as September 23, when Trudeau's Liberal government presents its long-term COVID-19 economic recovery plan via a throne speech. Trudeau's recovery plan will then be put to a vote and a fall election could be called if his speech does not get a vote of confidence. (ANI/Sputnik)

Taiwan ties of former Japan PM's brother worry China

Nobuo Kishi, the younger brother of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (File photo)


Tokyo [Japan], September 18 (ANI): The recent appointment of Nobuo Kishi, the younger brother of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, as the country's defence minister has worried China, given the former's close ties with Taiwan.


Kishi is known for his close links to Taiwan, having represented
 the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in engagements with current Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and other Taiwanese leaders over the years, South China Morning Post reported.

Earlier in July, Kishi was part of a delegation of lawmakers, who accompanied for Japanese premier Yoshiro Mori to Taiwan to mourn the demise of its former president Lee Teng-hui. The entourage also held a meeting with Tsai.

In January, Kishi paid a visit to Taipei to congratulate Tsai on her victory following the Taiwanese presidential election.

"He is known to be close to Taiwan and is one of the contact people -- perhaps the most important contact person -- for conservatives in Japan and the government in Taipei. That is not surprising given his background and his family links to the Taiwan lobby," said Koichi Nakano, a professor of politics at Tokyo's Sophia University.

In response to Kishi's appointment, China on Wednesday expressed hope that Japan will refrain from developing diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said that Beijing is keen to strengthen cooperation with Tokyo.

Japan is likely to have factored in China's response with the appointment of Kishi, according to Nakano.

"Security really matters right now and, given the direction of the current US government, I would say that while Suga knew China might be upset at the appointment of Kishi, they probably feel that they can handle the situation," he was quoted as saying.

Although Kishi had assisted with issues pertaining to Taiwan, very little is known about his policy leanings, said Liu Qingbin, an associate professor at the Yokohama National University. "He is someone who is extremely low profile," he added.

According to Liu, since Japan's new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga indicated he will continue to implement Abe's policies, particularly in security and diplomacy, it made sense to appoint Kishi, a trusted Abe aide.

During his nearly eight-year-long tenure, Abe managed to keep ties with China on an even keel even as Japan continued to lean towards its ally US. According to analysts, Japan managed to focus on economic ties and ensured that it did not get caught up in the worsening rivalry between the US and China, South China Morning Post reported.

Japan also avoided a direct confrontation with China, although it came down heavily on the Chinese government's handling of the COVID-19 crisis and the national security law in Hong Kong.

Kishi's predecessor Defence Minister Taro Kono, who is now in charge of administrative reform in the new cabinet, had accused Chinese ships of repeated incursions in the East China Sea, where the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands are situated. It is to be noted that China, Japan and Taiwan lay territorial claims over these islands, which are currently controlled by Tokyo.

Japan was prepared to "defend every centimetre of our land", Kono said, according to news agency Kyodo.

"If we do not do that, we will see another South China Sea. When China started reclaiming the land, international society did not do anything to stop it, and see what we have got," Kono added, while asserting that the "same thing can happen" in any other part of the world.

Kishi's appointment represented a "broader continuity in terms of engagement with China, but with the strong signal that Japan is concerned about domestic developments in China and regional security," said Stephen Nagy, an associate professor of international relations at Tokyo's International Christian University.

It also sent the message that Abe was likely to remain "influential" in how Japan negotiates the bilateral relationship with China and the trilateral arrangement with the US, Nagy was quoted as saying. (ANI)

Trump extends wishes to PM Modi on his 70th birthday

US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi (File photo)


Washington [US], September 18 (ANI): US President Donald Trump on Thursday (local time) wished Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his 70th birthday and described him as a "loyal friend" and "great leader".


Trump posted a photograph of his visit to India in February on Twitter, in which he and Modi are 
seen holding their hands high at the Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad. US First Lady Melania Trump is also present in the snap.

"I would like to extend best wishes and a very happy 70th birthday to the Prime Minister of India, @narendramodi. Many happy returns to a great leader and loyal friend!" the US President tweeted.



Both Modi and Trump share good chemistry and the two leaders never leave any opportunity to display their bonhomie to the world, highlighting the strong and fruitful US-India partnership.

In September last year, the Prime Minister had visited the US, where he addressed the 'Howdy Modi' event in Texas along with Trump.

Several leaders in India and across the world extended their greetings to Modi on the occasion. The Prime Minister thanked everyone for the wishes. (ANI)

Don't link environmental degradation with peace, security: India at UN

Logo of United Nations


New York [US], September 18 (ANI): Warning against "securitisation" of environmental issues, India on Thursday said that linking environmental degradation to peace and security will not enhance the collective effort to address climate change issues.


In a statement at the UN Security Council High-Lev
el open debate on 'Maintenance of international peace and security: Humanitarian Effects of Environmental Degradation and Peace and Security', India said that environmental degradation can have humanitarian impact or effect just as many other aspects of human activity have humanitarian dimensions.

It stressed that should be a greater resolve to implement the committments and contributions undertaken under environmental agreements.

"Environmental degradation affects not just the ecosystem but also the people who depend and live on it. It is also a multi-dimensional issue. To begin with, it can be caused by those who live on it due to a range of inter-related factors, foremost amongst which is poverty and not necessarily greed. In many developing countries, such problems arise from issues related to people living at subsistence level," India said.

It stated that in many other cases, the perpetrators of environmental degradation may well be outside national boundaries while the people suffering are inside.

"Environmental degradation can have humanitarian impact or effect just as many other aspects of human activity have humanitarian dimensions. However, merely to link up everything related to environmental issues with peace and security does nothing to enhance our understanding of the problem; does nothing to help us address these issues in a meaningful way, and does nothing to call out the real perpetrators and make them adhere to their commitments on environmental issues or help change behaviour of people at subsistence level," the statement said.

India noted there has been an increasing tendency both in the Security Council and outside to start discussing environmental issues with a certain disregard for the various important principles which govern environmental discussions, including climate change and biological diversity.

"What we need is a collective will to address such important issues multi-dimensionally without shirking our respective commitments under the various important conventions, inter alia, UN Convention to Combat Desertification, Convention on Biological Diversity, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and Paris Agreement etc. What we need therefore is greater resolve to implement the commitments and contributions undertaken under environmental agreements instead of 'securitisation' of environmental issues," it said.

India remarked that it is a leading contributor to "climate action" and the country has reduced 38 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually over the past few years.

In the course of the last decade, around three million hectares of forest and tree cover has been added, which has enhanced the combined forest and tree cover to 24.56 per cent of the total geographical area of the country, it said, adding that India has taken a leadership role to protect the environment.

"Going forward, India aims to restore 26 million hectares of degraded and deforested land and achieve land-degradation neutrality by 2030. We have set additional targets of eliminating single-use plastic by 2022 and installing 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030," the statement said.

India stressed that every industry, including the private sector, civil society and the government can make more climate-friendly lifestyle choices to ease the transition to a sustainable lifestyle.

"Let us view environmental degradation as an opportunity to strengthen multilateralism and seek equitable and inclusive solutions to build a greener, cleaner and a sustainable world," it further said. (ANI)

US legislation will end China's most-favoured nation trade status: Senator

Flags of US and China (File photo)

Washington [US], September 18 (ANI/Sputnik): China will lose the most-favored-nation (MFN) status, which extends trade concessions for one nation to all countries, under legislation introduced by US Senator Tom Cotton on Thursday.


"Twenty years ago this week, the Senate gave a gift to the Chinese Co
mmunist Party by granting it permanent most-favored-nation status. That disastrous decision made the party richer, but cost millions of American jobs. It is time to protect American workers and take back our leverage over Beijing by withdrawing China's permanent trade status," Cotton said in a press release announcing the bill.

China could still maintain its MFN status with the US, but the privilege would have to be renewed by the US President annually, with Congress allowed to override the decision of the President, the release said.

The bill also includes a list of human rights and trade abuses that would disqualify China for MFN status, absent a presidential waiver, it added.

The list includes the use of slave labour, re-education prison camps, forced abortion or sterilisation and organ harvesting from prisoners, the release stated.

Other listed abuses include religious persecution, harassment of expatriate Chinese who are critical of the government and the theft of intellectual property from Americans, according to the release. (ANI/Sputnik)

Record 173 world leaders to virtually address UN General Assembly next week

Logo of United Nations


New York [US], September 18 (ANI/Sputnik): A record number of 119 heads of state and 54 heads of governments will virtually deliver their messages at the UN General Assembly high-level event next week, the spokesperson for the President of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly, Brenden Varma, told reporters on Thursday.


"As of right now, according to the list, we have 119 heads of state and 54 heads of government," Varma said when asked about the number of leaders who confirmed their participation in the UN General Debate.

This year, the annual UN General Assembly high-level gathering will be held online due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

World leaders will submit their pre-recorded messages, presented by a country's delegate, who is already in New York.

In previous years, the General Assembly event would see the participation of leaders from over 100 countries speaking at the UN headquarters in-person.

According to the President of the 75th session of the General Assembly, Volkan Bozkir, initially, several high-level officials, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the country's Foreign Minister, had confirmed their in-person participation at the upcoming event planned for September 22-29.

However, Bozkir explained that due to New York State rules, requiring all visitors from abroad to quarantine for 14 days, all officials had to cancel their visits.

Varma said that as of Thursday, he did not have information about any country leader coming to the UN General Debate in-person. (ANI/Sputnik)

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