Saturday, September 19, 2020

Second batch of Indian deportees from Saudi Arabia to arrive on Sept 24

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Riyadh [Saudi Arabia], September 19 (ANI): The second batch of Indian deportees from Saudi Arabia will reach India on September 24 via the Riyadh-Chennai flight.

"The Mission has been trying to resolve the issue of Indians in Saudi deportation centres in consultation with the Ministry of External Af
fairs for quite some time now," the Embassy said in a statement on Twitter.

According to the statement, the first batch of around 500 deportees was sent in May, 2020 to Hyderabad. "Multiple agencies were involved at both ends and several clearances were needed besides strictly following health protocols to avoid the spread of COVID-19 in India."

The Embassy said currently, the Mission in Riyadh, Consulate in Jeddah, and MEA are arranging flights and quarantine facilities for the second batch of deportees.

"The first flight from Riyadh-Chennai is scheduled to depart on September 24. Further flights from Riyadh and Jeddah are currently being worked out and will be notified shortly. The Mission and Consulate officials are in regular touch with deportation authorities," it said in its statement. (ANI)

Apple to launch its online store in India on Sept 23

The pilot to Apple online store (Image courtesy: Apple)

California [US], September 19 (ANI): Tech company Apple has announced the launch of its online store in India on September 23. The move will provide Indian customers with a way to buy Apple products directly from the company for the first time.

According to The Verge, Apple's senior vice president o
f retail and people Deirdre O'Brien said in a statement, "We are proud to be expanding in India and want to do all we can to support our customers and their communities."

He added, "We know our users are relying on technology to stay connected, engage in learning, and tap into their creativity, and by bringing the Apple Store online to India, we are offering our customers the very best of Apple at this important time."

With the launch of the online store, customers in India will be able to shop Apple's full range of products and get expert advice and support from Apple Specialists.

As reported by The Verge, India is becoming an increasingly important market for Apple. In recent years, Apple has started manufacturing some of its devices in the country- Foxconn started building the iPhone 11 near Chennai in India earlier this year, and the company has made other iPhone models in India since as early as 2017. (ANI)

Oscars 2020: Priyanka Chopra Jonas expected to be one of the top 'Best Supporting Actress'

Priyanka Chopra Jonas (Image courtesy: Instagram)

Washington [US], September 19 (ANI): Superstar Priyanka Chopra Jonas has now been listed by Variety amongst one of the top contenders for the 'Best Supporting Actress' category at the Oscars this year.

The 'Baywatch' actor is expected to take home the prestigious Academy Award for her upcoming Netfl
ix film, 'The White Tiger'. Directed by Ramin Bahrani, the film is an adaptation of Aravind Adiga's novel of the same name. Her character in the film is something fans have never witnessed her doing before and is already being touted as one of the best so far.

For the unversed, Variety's Awards Circuit is home to the official predictions of the upcoming Oscars. Priyanka is being listed with the likes of Meryl Streep (for 'The Prom'), Han Yen-ri (for 'Minari'), Kristin Scott Thomas (for 'Rebecca') and Olivia Colman (for 'The Father') amongst others.

An inspiration for several young women, the 38-year-old actor also came forward to support business run by inspiring women in different parts of the world amidst the pandemic. The superstar was once quoted saying, "When women are financially empowered, they can transform families, communities and countries."

Netflix is producing 'The White Tiger' in association with Mukul Deora and Priyanka will also serve as an Executive Producer. (ANI)

Commerce and Industry Minister reviews COVID-19 status, oxygen availability with 12 States/UTs

Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal (File Photo)

New Delhi [India], September 19 (ANI): The Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal and the Union Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba on Saturday took a high-level meeting through video conferencing with 12 States and Union Territories (UTs) to review the status of COVID-19 management including oxygen availability and usage.

These 12 states and UTs are reporting about 80 per cent of the COVID-19 caseload in the country. They include Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Chandigarh, Telangana, Kerala, Delhi, Punjab, and West Bengal.

"Goyal specifically requested states and UT administrators to focus on analysing district level and health facility level status and effectively plan and manage logistical issues related to Oxygen availability. The Commerce and Industry Minister also urged them to share their best practices which in turn can be emulated by other States/UTs in the country," said the government statement.

The Cabinet Secretary while complimenting the States for significantly ramping up testing expressed concern that the case-fatality rates of several States are still higher than that of the national average.

"Gauba urged the States to analyse mortalities district- and hospital-wise for identification of critical areas of intervention. He also exhorted the states to ensure optimal utilisation of RT-PCR capacity. He underlined the need for ensuring that no symptomatic negative case (tested by Rapid Antigen Tests) is missed and all such cases are mandatorily administered RT-PCR test," the government said.

Rajesh Bhushan, the Union Health Secretary presented a detailed status note of COVID-19 on all these states with particular focus on the number of tests being conducted in each State/UT, their positivity rate, and their average daily CFR, availability of health infrastructure, and their district-wise oxygen availability.

Oxygen support is one of the key medical procedures for the treatment of Covid-19 patients.

So far, India has reported over 5 million Covid-19 cases with 85,619 deaths across the country. (ANI)

Japan's new Prime Minister may meet Pompeo in October

New Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. (Photo: ANI)

Tokyo [Japan], September 19 (ANI/Sputnik): New Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga may meet US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo in October, which would be his first meeting with a foreign official in this post, Japan's media reported on Saturday.

According to the NHK broadcaster, Pompeo may visi
t Japan in October to take part in the meeting of foreign ministers of Japan, the United States, India and Australia. The Japanese government is currently working on organising these negotiations.

The talks - if held - will focus on the COVID-19 pandemic and free navigation in the Indian Ocean amid the increasing Chinese presence in the region.

On Wednesday, Japanese lawmakers elected Suga as the new prime minister after the former head of the cabinet, Shinzo Abe, unexpectedly announced on August 28 his intention to resign due to an aggravation of a chronic illness. (ANI/Sputnik)

Moscow hopes no visa issues to arise for Russian diplomats headed to 75th UNGA session

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Moscow [Russia], September 19 (ANI/Sputnik): Russia expects its diplomats to encounter no repetition of obstacles with getting visas to the United States when traveling to attend the 75th high-level week of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), Pyotr Ilyichev, the head of the Department of International Organisations at the Russian Foreign Ministry, told Sputnik on Saturday.

Last year, the US denied entry visas to 18 Russian diplomats, among delegates from other foreign countries, to attend the 74th UNGA high-level week. This included envoys to the meetings of the First and Sixth UN Committees handling disarmament and legal affairs, respectively. Ilyichev said Moscow regularly raised this issue in its communications with Washington as well as the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly.

"We hope that Washington will become more responsible with regard to its obligations and prevent a repetition of this scenario during the 75th session of the General Assembly. One way or another, our country will continue to oppose in every possible way the US' unlawful visa policies," the diplomat added.

According to the diplomat, Washington's "arbitrary" visa policies have "the most detrimental impact on the efficiency of the organization's work," something that he said was repeatedly called out by other member states as well.

"The US is increasingly abusing its position as the host country of the UN headquarters in order to extract unilateral political dividends and put pressure on the governments of other countries," Ilyichev said.

The 75th session of the General Assembly opened on September 15. While most of the events, including the annual addresses of world leaders, will be held virtually due to COVID-19, a limited number of delegates are expected to physically attend a series of events on the sidelines. The high-level week will run from Monday until September 29. (ANI/Sputnik)

Cardi B says she has 'not shed one tear' since filing for divorce from Offset

Cardi B and Offset (Image courtesy: Instagram)

Washington [US], September 19 (ANI): American rapper Cardi B said she is not upset and has not shed a tear since filing for divorce from Offset.

According to People Magazine, the 27-year-old rapper got candid about the separation in an Instagram Live video on Friday (local time), revealing she's "no
t hurt" about ending her three-year marriage.

While responding to the outpour of support from fans amid her divorce, Cardi said, "I want to say thank you so much. However, like, I don't really need it."

"I'm okay. I want to let you know I have not shed one tear," she said.

Cardi admitted that although her previous fallout with Offset made her "stressed out" and "sad," she isn't upset about their latest split.

"This time, I wasn't crying. Wanna know why? The reason my divorce is not because of none of that s** that ever happened before. It's not because of the cheating," she said, before refuting rumours that Offset "has a baby on the way."

Cardi touted, "I'm seeing people [saying] 'Oh, he has a baby on the way.' That's a whole f*** complete lie. No, that's bull***t."

The Grammy winner went on to explain why she had called it quits with the Migos rapper, with whom she shares 2-year-old daughter Kulture Kiari.

The 'WAP' rapper said, "I just got tired of f*****g arguing. I got tired of not seeing things eye to eye. When you feel like it's not the same anymore before you actually get cheated on, I rather just be... you know what I'm saying? Like, I'm tired of people."

During the Livestream, Cardi said, "I don't do stunts. I don't need stunts and I don't need any stunts that come to family to sell anything. I don't understand why people want [the] reason for the divorce to be something so, so bad."

Cardi continued, "Nothing crazy out of this world happened. Sometimes people really do f*****g grow apart. I've been with this man for four years. I have a kid with this man."

"You just get tired of the arguments and the build-up. You get tired sometimes," she said "And before something bad happens, before you get left, before you get cheated on, you sometimes you just want to leave. What is so bad about that?"

"I want to say thank you to everybody they've been showing me, love," Cardi added. "I'm great. I'm okay. I'm not down. I'm not devastated. I'm not hurt."

People Magazine reported that the 'Money' hitmaker filed for divorce at an Atlanta courthouse on Tuesday, citing the marriage is "irretrievably broken" and "there are no prospects for reconciliation." (ANI)

BSF, BGB hold Director General level talks in Dhaka, agree to share real-time information with each other

BSF and BGB held Directors General Level talks. (Photo: ANI)

Dhaka [Bangladesh], September 19 (ANI): Border Guarding Forces of India and Bangladesh, BSF and BGB respectively, held Directors General Level talks from September 16-19 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The Border Security Force (BSF) and Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) agreed to share real-time information with
 each other through formal or informal channels including smuggling of drugs and narcotics, and human trafficking.

Meanwhile, BSF DG Rakesh Asthana stated that death or apprehension of criminals on the border is irrespective of nationalities and that BSF personnel fire with non-lethal weapon only in self-defence when they are surrounded by a large number of miscreants armed with dah, sticks, and their lives are endangered.

Relations between India and Bangladesh have been strengthened in various sectors including trade, maritime and economy.

India has allowed the export of onions lying on ports in transit to all countries including Bangladesh, government sources said on Friday.

In the Kolkata zone, there are 20,089 metric tonnes of onion lying on the port while in the Mumbai-II zone, 4,576 metric tonnes of the commodity are kept, sources said.

In other places like Trichy and Nagpur, 933 and around 258 metric tonnes of onion are lying on these ports respectively, they added.

The development comes after Bangladesh had expressed "deep concern" over India's decision to ban onion exports, according to media reports.

The central government on Monday banned the export of all varieties of onions except those cut, sliced or broken in powder form, with immediate effect, in an apparent move aimed at increasing domestic supply and reducing the prices.

Last October, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had jokingly said she asked her cook to not add onion while preparing food and lamented that her country has been inconvenienced by India's decision to ban exports of onion in September. The ban was subsequently lifted in March this year.

India's move to ban exports of onions earlier this week has shot up prices of the kitchen staple in Bangladesh. Apart from this, hundreds of Bangladesh-bound onion trucks were stranded at various ports and land borders in West Bengal. (ANI)

China vows countermeasures over US ban on TikTok, WeChat

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Beijing [China], September 19 (ANI): Amid worsening relations between two countries, China on Saturday said it resolutely opposed the move by the US to ban TikTok and WeChat and vowed to take countermeasures.

"China urges the US to abandon the hegemonic behaviour, to immediately stop the mistaken me
asures to maintain fair and transparent international rules and order," the Commerce Ministry said in a statement, according to a report in South China Morning Post.

"If the US insists on going its own way, the Chinese side will take necessary measures to firmly safeguard the legitimate rights of Chinese companies."

US Commerce Department on Friday announced prohibitions on transactions relating to mobile applications (apps) WeChat and TikTok to safeguard the national security of the US.

The department said while the threats posed by WeChat and TikTok are not identical, they are similar.

"Each collects vast swaths of data from users, including network activity, location data, and browsing and search histories. Each is an active participant in China's civil-military fusion and is subject to mandatory cooperation with the intelligence services of the CCP. This combination results in the use of WeChat and TikTok creating unacceptable risks to our national security," the Department said.

On August 6, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning any US transactions with ByteDance, set to take effect in 45 days.

On August 14, he issued another executive order, requiring ByteDance to divest its interests in TikTok's operations in the US within 90 days. (ANI)

Selection board for granting permanent commission to women officers in Indian Army begins proceedings

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New Delhi [India], September 19 (ANI): The Ministry of Defence on Friday announced that the selection board for the grant of permanent commission to women officers has commenced its proceedings.

"The Special No 5 Selection Board constituted to screen women officers for grant of Permanent Commission 
(PC) in Indian Army commenced its proceedings at the Army Headquarters on 14 September 2020. The board is headed by a Senior General Officer and includes a woman officer of the rank of Brigadier," said the Ministry of Defence in a statement.

"Women officers have been permitted to witness the proceedings as observers in order to add transparency to the process," it added.

The women officers who qualify in the screening process will be granted Permanent Commission subject to being in the minimum acceptable medical category. (ANI) 

Airstrikes on Taliban base in Afghanistan's Northeast leave 30 civilian casualties

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Kabul [Afghanistan], September 19 (ANI/Sputnik): A twin airstrike on a Taliban base in the northeastern Afghan province of Kunduz has left 30 civilian casualties, a Sputnik correspondent reported on Saturday.

"One airstrike was carried out in the Nikpai area of the Khanabad district of Kunduz, and w
hen people gathered in the area another attack took place in which up to 30 civilians were killed and wounded," an eyewitness told Sputnik.

According to another witness, the airstrikes left 12 civilians killed, including children, and 18 others injured. The witness added that seven Taliban militants had been killed and two others had been injured as a result of the airstrikes.

The Khanabad district chief confirmed the attack but declined to give further details on the strikes. (ANI/Sputnik)

Randeep Hooda shares hilarious 'Avengers' themed video

Randeep Hooda (Image courtesy: Instagram)

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], September 19 (ANI): Piquing the interest of Marvel fans, actor Randeep Hooda on Saturday shared a hilarious video of some boys posing as the much-loved superheroes while the 'Avengers: Infinity War' theme score played in the backdrop.

The 'Highway' actor posted on Insta
gram a rib-tickling clip showcasing a group of six boys posing as Marvel superheroes with their armours. As the short clip starts, it shows a boy umping out as he holds a tire, while he holds it as the protective gear held by Captain America, following his lead comes to the other five boys posing as Spider-Man, Hawk-Eye, Antman, Wolverine and Thor. The clip shows the boys posing aside a pond which is located amid a lush green forest.

Hooda captioned the riotous clip with "two laughing and three clap emojis," and he tagged the Avengers filmmakers and his 'Extraction' co-star Chris Hemsworth. The 'Sarabjit' actor added,"@therussobrothers @joeyjoeyrusso @anthonyrusso @chrishemsworth @samhargrave @battlecat_stunts_inc @danielstevens1 @dargan_fire @outthayr @aricosta.22 @tsigel @ptnewall."With the post hitting the photo-sharing platform, it garnered more than 1 lakh views within 32 minutes of being posted.

Many of the fans also chimed into the comments section leaving laughing emoticons.

Randeep Hooda has been quite active on social media and has been updating his fans by sharing pictures and videos.

Earlier, the actor expressed gratitude as he returned to work after months-long hiatus and begun dubbing for action-thriller 'Radhe.'

The movie will see Salman Khan romancing Disha Patani. The flick also features Jackie Shroff and Randeep Hooda.

'Radhe' is co-produced by Salman Khan, Sohail Khan and Atul Agnihotri under the banners Salman Khan Films, Sohail Khan Productions and Reel Life Production. (ANI)

Army deploys additional brigade on LoC to plug infiltration from Pakistan

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New Delhi [India], September 19 (ANI): With Pakistan Army trying hard to push terrorists across the Line of Control (LoC), the Indian Army has deployed additional 3,000 troops in Jammu and Kashmir to plug any such infiltration attempts.

"An additional brigade has been deployed on the LoC to plug inf
iltration and this move has given good results too," top sources told ANI.

The additional troops deployed on the LoC have been successful in foiling almost all the major attempts of infiltration and terrorists have not been allowed to cross over, they said.

Sources said the Pakistan Army has failed to achieve much success in pushing terrorists this year and there would be multiple attempts to do so before higher reaches close down by October-November due to heavy snowfall.

Indian Army is fully active on the LoC and troops recently foiled an infiltration attempt from North Kashmir's Gurez sector.

Sources said at present, a couple of extra battalions of the Pakistan Army are present on the LoC in Pakistan occupied Kashmir but it cannot be said that they are there to build pressure on India in support of the Chinese Army.

Even if the Pakistanis try to do so, the Indian Army is well prepared to deal with such a situation, they said.

Pakistan has also been trying to increase ceasefire violations and the Army chief visited Srinagar to review the ongoing security situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

During the visit, the Army Chief visited forward locations on the LoC and took a first-hand review of the operational preparedness of troops there.

In Srinagar, the Army Chief was briefed on security situation by the senior officials of the Chinar Corps, they said.

Pakistan Army has increased ceasefire violations along the LoC at a time when India and China are engaged in conflict over territorial issues in the Eastern Ladakh sector. (ANI)

Taiwan pledges deeper ties with US amid Chinese intrusion into island's air space

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen with Keith Krach, US Undersecretary for Economic Affairs. (Photo credit: President Tsai Ing-wen Twitter)

Taipei [Taiwan], September 19 (ANI): Amid Chinese intrusion into Taiwan's air space, President Tsai Ing-wen has pledged deeper ties with the United States during the visit of Keith Krach, US Undersecretary for Economic Affairs, to the nation.

According to an official statement, Taiwan President has 
committed collaboration with the US to strengthen ties.

"I hope that Taiwan and the United States continue to work together to promote peace, stability, prosperity, and development in the Indo-Pacific, positively impacting the region," said the President.

She further said, "Taiwan is committed to taking key steps, and engaging in exchanges of opinion to bring about a new milestone in the deepening of Taiwan-US economic cooperation."

"I hope that we can continue our collaboration and conversations, and launch more successful engagements, working together to advance an even friendlier, even closer Taiwan-US partnership," she added.

During the visit to Taiwan, Krach and the delegation to Taiwan attended the memorial service for late President Lee Teng-hui.

The visit of the senior-most US official has angered China.

In a belligerent show of force by Beijing, as many as 19 Chinese jets crossed the midline of Taiwan strait for the second consecutive day.

On Friday, 18 Chinese jets had crossed the midline of Taiwan strait.

Both times, Taiwan's air force scrambled jets and deployed air defense missile system to monitor China's activities.

"PLA's military intimidation is deplorable and has caused resentment among people in Taiwan. We call on PRC to cherish peace and maintain regional stability," said Taiwan Ministry of Defence in a tweet after Friday's incident.

Earlier this month, Taiwan warned China not to "cross the line" saying that it wants peace but will defend its people.

"Don't cross the line. China again flew fighter jets into Taiwan's Air Defense Identification Zone today. Make no mistake, Taiwan wants peace but we will defend our people," Vice President of Taiwan, Lai Ching-Te said in a tweet.

During US Health Secretary Alex Azar's historic visit to Taiwan earlier, China deployed fighter jets that briefly crossed the midline of the Taiwan Strait, South China Morning Post had reported citing Taiwan's Defence Ministry. The ministry had said it had tracked the PLA fighters with its land-based anti-aircraft missiles and had "strongly driven them out". (ANI)

India committed to ensure water, sanitation to all: India at UNHRC

Vimarsh Aryan, First Secretary, India's permanent mission to UNOG, speaking at 45th Session of the Human Rights Council. Photo/AN

Geneva [Switzerland], September 19 (ANI): India is committed to ensuring access to water and sanitation in all spheres of life beyond the household, particularly in public spaces, which is an essential element of the human rights to water and sanitation, said Vimarsh Aryan, First Secretary, India's permanent mission to United Nation's Office at Geneva (UNOG), at the 45th Session of the Human Rights Council.

Speaking in an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur (SR) on 'Human Rights to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation, Vimarsh Aryan said, "We agree with the SR that the fulfilment of the human rights to water and sanitation cannot be accomplished in a short time frame and is often dependent on the availability and use of resources. I would like to share that last year Indian government undertook Jal Shakti Abhiyan, a campaign for water conservation and water security."

He further said that India, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi believes in 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas'.

He said, "With the objective of citizen-centric governance we have accorded highest priority to ensuring access to water and sanitation for all citizens through two flagship programmes, the Swachh Bharat Mission and the Jal Jeevan Mission."

"Under the Swachh Bharat Mission, all Indian states have already declared themselves 'Open Defecation Free' by October 2, 2019, which implies that everyone in India has access to safe sanitation. A similar effort is underway under the 'Jal Jeevan' mission that aims to provide a functional household tap connection to all households in India," he added. (ANI)

Two people killed, 14 injured in shooting in US' Rochester

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Washington D.C. [US], September 19 (ANI/Sputnik): A shooting incident in the city of Rochester, located in the US state of New York, left two people killed and 14 others injured in the early hours of Saturday, Acting Rochester Police Chief Mark Simmons told a briefing following the incident.

 said that the shooting had occurred at a large party with more than 100 people in attendance, describing the aftermath at a time of police's arrival as a "chaotic scene."

"In total, we have 16 confirmed victims of the shooting. I am sad to announce that two of those 16 received fatal wounds," Simmons said, specifying that the deceased were a Black male and a female both aged between 18-22.

The other 14 injured people were taken to local hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries, the officer added. Asked if there could be more victims who went unregistered at this point, he said police would communicate any updates on the matter.

"This is yet another tragedy where individuals are having these illegal and unsanctioned house parties taking place in these properties which number one is not safe because of COVID-19, because of the conditions and then you add alcohol and violence and it just becomes a recipe for a disaster," Simmons said.

It is not yet clear if one or more people were behind the shooting as the perpetrator is currently at large.

Simmons said police would investigate the matter and remain on the scene for "a considerable amount of time." (ANI/Sputnik)

Deputy Head of Afghanistan's Paktia Provincial Council assassinated

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Kabul [Afghanistan], September 19 (ANI/Sputnik): Ayub Gharwal, the deputy head of the provincial council of Afghanistan's eastern Paktia province, was assassinated in a shooting attack on Saturday, Mumtaz Karokhel, a member of the Paktia provincial council, told Sputnik.

Gharwal was approached by unidentified gunmen on the morning of Saturday as he was walking from his office to the university in Gardez, the capital of Paktia, Karokhel said.

The man was injured and succumbed to his injuries before reaching the hospital.

No group has claimed the responsibility for the attack so far. (ANI/Sputnik)

Sri Lankan Minister climbs tree to address public on shortage of coconuts

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Colombo [Sri Lanka], September 19 (ANI): To convey the message to the people on the shortage of coconuts, Sri Lankan State Minister of Coconut Arundika Fernando climbed a coconut tree and said that the country is facing a dearth of 700 million coconuts due to high demand for local industries and domestic consumption.

News First quoted Fernando as saying, "We hope to utilise every available plot of land for the cultivation of coconuts and boost the industry to one which would generate foreign exchange to the country."

Giving a solution to the problem of prices of coconuts, he said that the government aims to reduce the prices amid the shortage of coconuts in the country.

News First further reported that it took a great effort for the State Minister's supporters to get him out of the coconut tree climbing contraption. (ANI)

Russia registers over 6,000 new COVID-19 cases in past 24 hours

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Moscow [Russia], September 19 (ANI/Sputnik): Health authorities in Russia have registered 6,065 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, up from 5,905 the day before, bringing the country's cumulative toll close to 1.1 million, the Russian coronavirus response center said on Saturday.

"Over the p
ast day, 6,065 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed in 84 regions of Russia, including 1,460 -- or 24.1 percent -- of active cases with no clinical symptoms," the response center said, specifying that Russia's cumulative toll has now reached 1,097,251 cases.

Of the newly detected cases, 825 were confirmed in Moscow, 212 in St. Petersburg and 180 in Rostov Region, according to the report.

The reported daily dynamics included 144 new fatalities, including 18 in St.Peterburg and and 11 in Moscow. This brought Russia's cumulative death toll to 19,339.

Total recoveries now count 906,462, an increase of 5,255 over the past day, including 919 in Moscow and 210 in the Stavropol region. (ANI/Sputnik)

US mourns loss of 'titan of the law': Trump on Justice Ginsburg's demise

US President Donald Trump

Washington [US], September 19 (ANI): US President Donald Trump on Tuesday praised Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a "titan of the law" whose decisions have inspired all Americans, and generations of great legal minds.

In a statement following Ginsburg's demise, Trump said that the United States mourn
s the passing of the Supreme Court Justice.

Ginsburg who has been regarded as an iconic champion of women's rights and a history-making jurist passed away at the age of 87.

"Today, our nation mourns the loss of a titan of the law" who was "renowned for her brilliant mind and her powerful dissents at the Supreme Court," Trump said in a statement.

"Her opinions, including well-known decisions regarding the legal equality of women and the disabled, have inspired all Americans, and generations of great legal minds," he added. "May her memory be a great and magnificent blessing to the world."

US flags at the White House were lowered to half staff Friday "in honor of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a trailblazer for women," press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Twitter.

Ginsburg, the second woman appointed to the bench, developed a rock star status during her career and was dubbed the 'Notorious RBG', CNN reported.

She was appointed in 1993 by President Bill Clinton and in recent years served as the most senior member of the court liberal wing, consistently delivering progressive votes on the most divisive social issues of the day, including abortion rights, same-sex marriage, voting rights, immigration, health care, and affirmative action. (ANI)

Women condition in Pakistan result of 'callous apathy' of successive governments: EFSAS

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Amsterdam [Netherlands], September 19 (ANI): Commenting on the two rape incidents in Pakistan, a European think tank on Friday said that the deplorable condition of women">women in the country is a result of the "callous apathy" of successive Pakistani governments, including Prime Minister Imran Khan-led administration.

European Foundation For South Asian Studies (EFSAS), in a commentary, said that the harsh reality confronting Pakistani women">women is that their current large-scale protests and evocatively worded placards and slogans "may still not be enough to dent indelibly the milieu of male dominance, discrimination and subjugation that a large proportion of them are subjected to everyday."

On September 4, a 5-year-old girl in the southern port city of Karachi stepped out of her home to buy cookies from a nearby shop. She never returned home. Her body was found two days later, and an autopsy revealed that she had been raped, hit on the head, and set on fire.

On the night of September 8, a woman in her early thirties set off with her children from Lahore, the capital of Punjab province, for the city of Gujranwala. On the way, her car ran out of fuel so she called the motorway police for assistance. She was told that she was out of the area of jurisdiction of the motorway police, so they could not help.

She also called a relative. While she and her children were waiting for him to arrive, two men approached the car, broke the driver's-side window with sticks and stones, and dragged the woman and her children off the road. The woman was raped multiple times in front of her children. The men then stole her bank cards, jewellery and cash and made away.

The two incidents have resulted in large scale protests against the brutalities and injustices that generation after generation of Pakistani women">women has had to suffer.

"Despite Prime Minister Imran Khan saying on September 10 that 'Such brutality and bestiality cannot be allowed in any civilized society' and that 'Such incidents are a violation of our social values and a disgrace to society', the present situation has clearly been allowed to come about as a result of the callous apathy of successive Pakistani governments, including the one that Khan leads," the EFSAS said.

The "uncouth" remarks of Umar Sheikh, the Police Chief of Lahore and the lead investigator of the case, who put all the blame for the rape on the victim, added fuel to the fire and galvanized the protestors into action.

Last weekend, thousands of people took to the streets in Pakistan's largest cities of Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi to protest against the rapes.

The protests were organized by the Asma Jahangir Legal Aid Cell, Women Democratic Front, and Aurat (Women) March.

The demands of the protestors included an end to violence against women">women; a change in the law to criminalize acts of sexual violence that do not include penetration; structural reform to increase police accountability; training for police, prosecutors, and judges in handling sexual violence cases; protection for victims and witnesses; services and legal assistance for survivors; an end to abusive and scientifically meaningless 'virginity examinations' including in sexual violence cases; an end to the culture of patriarchal violence and control; making all public spaces safe for women">women; an increase in government spending on women">women's health, education and safety; and the immediate removal of Lahore Police Chief Umar Sheikh.

Harris Khalique, the Secretary-General of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), brought out a larger diabolical picture related the motorway incident when he revealed that the victim had pleaded with the police that the case not be made public.

He said, "The gravity of the situation of the incident on the highway is the woman begging the police for the case not to be made public. Stigma is attached to it and the victim is blamed. A woman is raped in front of her children, and the police chief of Lahore has the gall to say why she was driving late at night on her own. Legal and policy measures need to be taken. The attitude change in society has to be brought, the increasing misogyny and intolerance of difference of opinion are all linked to each other".

The HRCP, in a tweet, said that "The horrifying gang rape of a woman in the #motorwayincident is a grim reminder that Pakistan has become an increasingly dangerous place for #women">women. Not only must the perpetrators be brought to justice, the Motorway police must also be taken to task for failing to respond".

The HRCP's contention that Pakistan has become a dangerous place for women">women is borne out by the fact that the police in the province of Punjab alone have registered as many as 2,043 cases of rape and 111 cases of gang rape this year, the EFSAS said.

Pakistan was nearly at the bottom of the 2020 Global Gender Gap Index, placing 151st out of 153 countries listed. Only Iraq and Yemen ranked worse. The situation with the safety and well being of children was no different.

As per the KidsRights Foundation, a research and advocacy group in The Netherlands, Pakistan ranks 147th out of the 182 countries that have ratified the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child.

"Pakistan has been on the wrong side of the global tide towards women">women's empowerment by a long way and for quite a long time," the think-tank said.

A September 2019 report in Deutsche Welle ranked Pakistan as the 6th most dangerous country in the world for women">women.

In 2014, the gender gap report of the World Economic Forum ranked Pakistan 141 out of 142 countries. In its 'Status Report 2020 on Young Women in Pakistan', the United women">women">Nations National Commission on Status of Women (NCSW) noted in July this year that as many as 48 per cent of young Pakistani women">women aged 15-24 were not in education, employment or training, as compared to only 7 per cent of men. Less than two per cent young women">women owned physical assets, including a house. (ANI)

Wake-up call for Gilgit-Baltistan

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan

By Dr Amjad Ayub Mirza

Glasglow [UK], September 19 (ANI): Recently Pakistan's opposition parties thwarted an attempt by Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan government to hold a consultative meeting to discuss a constitutional package for Gilgit Baltistan (GB) by boycotting the session called by the Parliamentary Standing Committee for National Security.

This defeat of the Imran Khan-led government comes at a time when a general election in GB is expected by the end on November 2020.

In a desperate attempt to guarantee a victory in the forthcoming elections, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government is leaving no stone unturned.

From hypocritical and rhetorical claims that GB is set to become the fifth province of Pakistan, to demagogic references to Islamic bondage between the Occupier (Sunni-dominated Pakistan) and the oppressed (Shia-dominated GB), and from naming post-election development packages to a sudden rush to the occupied region of Karakorum by top federal ministers to garner support for the ruling party in Pakistan, the whole election campaign has become a farce.

Imran Khan cannot even get respectable candidates for his party in GB. Many who were once thought to become PTI candidates have now decided to contest elections as independents.

Full-scale manipulation of voters list, postponing the date of the election to November to let winter set in and snowfall block the roads that lead to far-flung polling stations causing low voter turn out, are only a few of the tricks up the sleeve of the Pakistani establishment to influence the results of the elections.

Not only that poor performance in the election in GB will harm the popularity of PTI during the general election in Pakistani-occupied Kashmir due next year but it will also undermine the Pakistan Army's control of the region.

Gilgit-Baltistan has been part of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir since 1877. During the Pakistan invasion of the state of Jammu Kashmir in October 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh acceded to India, therefore, allowing Indian troops to land at Srinagar airport on October 27, 1947.

It did not take long for the Indian forces to push the Pakistani army and tribal invaders back. As Pakistan's defeat became imminent, a British mercenary by the name of Major William Brown was stationed in the Gilgit agency. He was ordered by the British to stage a coup against the Governor of Gilgit Agency Brigadier Ghansara Singh.

At the time the officers of the Gilgit Scouts, a paramilitary force to scout the region, was under the command of British officers. They staged a coup and held individual meetings with the chieftains of the vassal states of the Gilgit Agency and gave them a choice of supporting the change in the political status of the Gilgit Agency or face retribution.

On October 30, 1947, just three days after the Indian troops landed in Srinagar, Major William Brown made his move and took over the Agency. On November 2 that year, he pulled down the flag of the state of Jammu Kashmir and raised the flag of Pakistan at the Gilgit Residency.

Had former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru not been to the United Nations and negotiated a cease-fire, Gilgit Baltistan would have been freed along with parts of west Jammu that were occupied by Pakistan army. The Indian troops were well on their way to liberate Skardu when they were stopped in their tracks. Indian troops retreated to Kargil and Leh.

Pakistan has since tried to swallow GB but in vain. In May 2007, a report submitted to the EU parliamentary Committee on Kashmir, known as the Emma Nicholson Report, described the human rights situation in GB and PoJK and proved that there were widespread abuse of human rights in both occupied regions.

In her report, she mentioned that it was the Pakistan Ministry of Kashmir Affairs that dealt with political, economic and financial issues of the occupied territories.

The Minister of Kashmir Affairs, she noted, was a Pakistani, so were the Inspector General of Police, the Accountant General and the Finance Secretary.

She also highlighted the fact the according to the interim constitution of Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir (also known as Act 74), no political party was allowed to operate unless they pledged their loyalty to the idea of accession to Pakistan.

Today, there are several dozen political prisoners in GB serving sentences up to 90 years. The colonial Schedule Four law bars any form of freedom of speech. The GB is crucial to the Belt and Road initiative of China.

The route that would take supplies from China to the Mediterranean and the continent of Europe has to pass through the occupied territory of GB before it reaches the Port of Gwadar in Baluchistan.

Hence, it is under the immense pressure of expansionist China that Pakistan is attempting to nip GB. Pakistan owes billions of dollars to China that she has borrowed to help keep its dwindling economy afloat.

China is investing over USD 60 billion just on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The irony is that all projects of CPEC that are being constructed in Pakistan are done by Chinese loans.

Hence it's a double-edged trap for Pakistan. It's a debt-trap. This debt-trap is going to prove like a death trap for Pakistan in years to come since Pakistan is unable to generate a surplus economy.

In this scenario occupied territories have become the first to bear the brunt of the economic causality Pakistan is suffering.

River Indus in GB and Rivers Jhelum and Neelum in PoJK has been diverted for the construction of Hydropower projects in Diamer, Kohala and other places.

This is causing severe ecological disaster in the region. Water shortages in GB and PoJK have forced hundreds of settled people to migrate. Green pastures for animal grazing have dried up and wildlife species are seriously been endangered.

It is a wakeup call for India that its people and lands that were occupied in 1947 are now being systematically sent to the death camp of history by a rouge fascist state of Pakistan.

The need to act to save our people and recapture our lands has never been so pressing.

Disclaimer: The author of this opinion piece is Dr Amjad Ayub Mirza, who is a human rights activist from Mirpur in PoK. He currently lives in exile in the UK. (ANI)

Trump says expects 'fairly fast' decision on TikTok ahead of November 12 deadline

US President Donald Trump

Washington [US], September 19 (ANI/Sputnik): The White House expects to make a "fairly fast" decision on TikTok ahead of the November 12 deadline for the Chinese social media application to find a suitable US partner or be shut down, President Donald Trump told reporters.

"We've some great companies
 who want to buy it and we're looking into those companies," Trump said on Friday. "We're looking at most importantly the security with respect to China and we're going to make a fairly fast decision."

Trump has accused TikTok and WeChat, another social media app that White House officials said will be shut down this Sunday, of being tools of the Chinese Chinese Communist Party, which Washington says is bent on stealing the personal data of US users.

Oracle, Microsoft and Walmart are among the US companies that have so far held talks with TikTok. (ANI/Sputnik)

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