Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Afghanistan chief peace negotiator Abdullah Abdullah meets with Ajit Doval

Dr Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of High Council for National Reconciliation of Afghanistan and National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval

New Delhi [India], October 7 (ANI): Abdullah Abdullah, the chief peace negotiator of Afghanistan with the Taliban on Wednesday met with National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval who assured him of India's full support to the peace process in Afghanistan.

The Chairman of High Council for National Reconciliation of Afghanistan who is here on a five-day visit said the meeting with Doval was "constructive" and that the latter had assured him of India is in favour of a "democratic and sovereign Afghanistan, where no terrorists can operate".

"Had a constructive discussion with HE Ajit Doval, the NSA of India. We discussed the Afghan Peace Process, & the talks in Doha. He assured me of India's full support for the peace efforts, & that any peace settlement acceptable to Afghans, will have the support of India," read a tweet from Abdullah.

"He further stated that his country is in favour of an independent, democratic, sovereign & peaceful Afghanistan, where no terrorists can operate. I thanked India for the invitation, its continued support for Afghanistan, & its constructive role in peace efforts," he added.

This is the first visit of Abdullah to India after the formation of a new government in Afghanistan.

His visit comes at a time when the Afghanistan government and Taliban are trying to negotiate a deal in order to restore peace in the country. Abdullah Abdullah had last week visited Pakistan and discussed the Afghan peace process with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Foreign Minister, and other Pakistani officials.

The peace talks between the Afghanistan government and the Taliban began on September 12 in Qatar's capital Doha to end decades of war in which tens of thousands have been killed.

Violence, however, has not abated in the country even as Afghan negotiators have been engaged in direct talks for the first time.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had participated in the opening ceremony of Afghan peace negotiations in Doha through video conferencing and reiterated that the peace process should be Afghan-led and ensure the interests of minorities and women.

He said that Afghan soil should never be used for carrying out anti-India activities and supported the need for an immediate ceasefire in order to establish long-lasting peace in Afghanistan.

On September 25, Jaishankar had met former Afghan Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum and said India remains fully committed to an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned, and Afghan-controlled peace process. (ANI)

Uttar Pradesh govt creating 'Data Analytical Centre' for women safety

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Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh) [India], October 7 (ANI): In order to provide a safe city to the women in the state, the Uttar Pradesh government is setting up a 'Data Analytical Centre' under women power line 1090, Additional Chief Secretary, Home, Awanish Kumar Awasthi said on Wednesday.

"In order to strengthen the safety measures for women under a safe city, the government is building a Data Analytical Centre under women power line 1090. The government has ordered to implement this as soon as possible," Awasthi said.

Divulging further Awasthi said that with the help of this Data Analytical Centre, the hot spots where crime against women are taking place, will be marked and police will be deployed over there.

"The data of crimes against the women will be collected from various sources in this Analytical centre and action will be taken accordingly. The hot spot of eve-teasing will be marked based on which police will be deployed," he said.

This move, apparently, comes after the Hathras incident where a 19-year-old girl was allegedly gang-raped.

The woman succumbed to brutal assault injuries in Delhi's Safdarjung Hospital last month. The post-mortem report said that the victim suffered a fracture of "cervical vertebra". (ANI)

Negative attitude towards China high in Australia says Pew Research

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Washington [US], October 7 (ANI): China has been increasingly viewed negatively in recent times by most advanced economies with an unfavourable opinion of the Asian country rising most in Australia according to a new survey by Pew Research Center.

The survey conducted in 14 countries- Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United States, South Korea, Spain, France, Canada ,Italy, Japan, Belguim and Denmark was released on Tuesday.

"Negative views of China increased most in Australia, where 81 per cent now say see the country unfavourably, up 24 percentage points since last year. In the UK, around three-quarters now see the country in a negative light - up 19 points. And, in the U.S., negative views of China have increased nearly 20 percentage points since President Donald Trump took office, rising 13 points since just last year," the survey read.

The rise corresponds with increased tensions following Australia-led the call for an international investigation into the origin of coronavirus. China responded on the trade front, banning imports of Australian barley, beef and wine.

According to the research, most negative reviews of China's COVID-19 response come from three nations in the AsiaPacific region. "More than seven-in-ten in Japan, South Korea and Australia say China has done a bad job dealing with the coronavirus outbreak, including more than four-in-ten in each country who say they did a very bad job," the research added.

The findings of the survey reported that the trust on Chinese President Xi Jinping has plunged over the last 12 months with over 77 people surveyed in the US expressing that they have no confidence in Xi in "doing the right thing" in global affairs.

According to the research organisation, the rise in unfavourable views comes amid widespread criticism over how China has handled the coronavirus pandemic.

"Around a third or more in Belgium, Denmark, the UK, Sweden, Canada, the U.S., Australia and Japan also have very unfavourable views of China. In both the UK and Australia, this is more than twice as many as said they had very unfavourable views of China last year," it further reported.

Pew Research further reported that in Australia - where efforts to investigate China's role in the spread of COVID-19 have led to heated trade frictions - negative views of China have gone up 24 percentage points since 2019. This is also the largest year-on-year change in Australia since the question was first asked in 2008.

It further stated that in Australia, 68 per cent of those under 30 have an unfavourable view of China, compared with 86 per cent of those ages 50 and older. "This also marks the first year in which a majority of younger Australians have an unfavourable view of China; in 2019, 45% of those under 30 reported the same," it added.

The research also pointed out that close to half in Japan and Australia also say they have "no confidence at" all in Xi. " In Australia, for example, 54 per cent had little or no confidence in Xi in 2019, and now 79 per cent say the same, a 25 percentage point increase," it reported further. (ANI)

3 killed in roadside blast in Afghanistan's Kapisa

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Kabul [Afghanistan], October 7 (ANI): As many as three civilians have been killed in a roadside mine blast in the northeastern province of Kapisa on Wednesday.

According to a spokesperson of the provincial police chief, the incident took place in the Tagab district in the morning when the civilian's vehicle struck a roadside mine, as reported by Tolo News.

Tolo News further quoted the spokesperson saying, "The roadside mine was placed by the Taliban."

No group has claimed responsibility for the blast--including the Taliban.

More details are awaited. (ANI)

US looks forward to expanding investment that supports regional communities: State Department

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Washington [US], October 7 (ANI): The United States Department of State, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs said that the US looks forward to expanding investment that supports regional communities.

"Great to see America's Development Bank's commitment to markets in India & broader South Asia! The US is a strong economic partner in the region & we look forward to expanding our investment that supports regional communities through impactful projects in multiple sectors," the tweet from the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs (SCA) read.

The SCA had retweeted a tweet from the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) dated September 25.

Samunnati, the firm, raised close to USD 20 Million in debt from the DFC in order to increase its lending capacity in the ongoing fiscal year, as per media reports. The capital would help provide assistance to low-income farmers and enterprises in India.

"DFC has committed a $20 million loan to Samunnati to help expand financing and technical assistance to low-income farmers farmer and enterprises in India a so that they can bolster productivity, increase their earnings and reach new markets," it said in a tweet from September 25. (ANI)

Gold smuggling case: Union Minister Muraleedharan demands resignation of Kerala CM

Union Minister V Muraleedharan (File Photo)

New Delhi [India], October 7 (ANI): Union Minister of State for External Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs V Muraleedharan on Wednesday said that Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan should resign and submit himself to investigation in the Kerala gold smuggling case.

In a tweet, citing a media report, Muraleedharan said, "ED Chargesheet in Kerala Gold Scam exposed the nexus between @VijayanPinarayi and smugglers, confirmed @CMOKerala's role in Swapna Suresh's appointment in Space Park. @VijayanPinarayi should resign and submit himself for investigation. Kerala cannot continue with this CM anymore."

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday submitted a chargesheet in connection with the high-profile Kerala gold smuggling case in a special (PMLA) court in Kochi and submitted that the role of M Sivasankar, former principal secretary to the Kerala Chief Minister's Office, needs to be thoroughly investigated.

In its chargesheet, the ED said that Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was aware of the appointment of second accused Swapna Suresh in the Space Park of the Kerala IT department.

However, Vijayan during his press meets had repeatedly denied it.

Further, the ED said Swapna and Sivasankar had met several times and even met in the presence of the Chief Minister five or six times.

"She (Swapna Suresh) was selected in Space Park as she was close to M Svasankar. Her appointment with the Space Park was in the knowledge of the Chief Minister of Kerala. She told that Venugopal, Charted Accountant was referred to her by Sivasankar to manage her funds and she trusted Sivasankar," ED said in the chargesheet detailing on statement recorded of Swapna.

It said that she further stated that Ramees had approached her and Sarith for smuggling gold and they decided to smuggle gold and arranged for two trial consignments.

"For the trial consignments, Sarith had forged the required documents. After clearance, she and Sarith handed over the gold to Sandeep. The gold was smuggled through the Trivandrum Airport on 21 occasions," the chargesheet said.

Further, ED said that Sivasankar had helped Swapna open a bank locker and had introduced her to his Charted Accountant P Venugopal along with whom Swapna operated the bank locker.

On the statement of Venugopal, the investigation agency said, "He said that he has known M Sivasankar for the last 25 years. Sivasankar introduced Swapna Suresh to him and asked him to advise her on financial matters. Swapna said that she was getting around Rs 30 lakh by cash and wanted his help in putting the cash in fixed deposits; that he advised against putting in fixed deposits; then, she said that she would put the cash in the locker."

"Sivasankar asked him to open a locker in joint name with her and he opened a joint locker with Swapna. The money was kept in the locker and he (Venugopal) was holding the key. In three to four tranches, the money was taken by him from the locker and given it to her," the ED said.

According to the chargesheet, Venugopal also stated that when the locker was empty, the passbook and the key of the locker was returned to Swapna.

"When he had asked her to close the locker, she told that she had kept some gold in it. Further, he stated that though Sivasankar messaged him that he was sending Rs 35 lakh, he sent Rs 30 lakh only. He received the money at his residence from Swapna one day before opening a locker. He kept Sivasankar informed about operations in the locker as the locker was opened on his instruction," the ED said.

The ED, in its charge sheet, said that Sivasankar was a key person in the present government and his role has to be investigated in the entire episode. The mirror image of the electronic evidence also has to be confronted with him as well as other accused persons, the ED submitted.

The Kerala gold smuggling case, which is being probed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the Enforcement Directorate, and the Customs department, pertains to the smuggling of gold in the state through diplomatic channels.

The matter had come to light after 30 kg gold worth Rs 14.82 crores smuggled in a consignment camouflaged as diplomatic baggage was busted by the Customs in Thiruvananthapuram on July 5. (ANI)

Rajnath Singh chairs Ambassadors' Round-table Virtual Conference on Aero India 2021

Image Source: Twitter handle @DefenceMinIndia

New Delhi [India], October 7 (ANI): Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday chaired the Ambassadors' Round Table Conference on Aero India 2021.

"Department of Defence Production, Ministry of Defence organised the Ambassadors' Round Table Virtual conference on Aero India 2021, chaired by Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh here today," said a press statement from the Ministry of Defence.

The major reach-out effort of the Ministry was well attended by 200+ invitees comprising Ambassadors, Heads of Missions and Defence Attaches of over 75 countries indicating the growing stature of the 13th mega biennial event, to be held in Karnataka's capital Bengaluru from February 3-7, 2021, the press statement read.

The senior representatives of foreign missions at New Delhi were briefed about the Aero India-21well in advance with a view to encouraging the presence of their leaders and senior-most decision-makers at the event in February 2021 wherein India's aerospace and defence manufacturing capabilities will be displayed under one umbrella.

According to the press statement, addressing the conference, the Defence Minister said, Aero India-21 aligns with India's vision to be among the top five countries of the world in defence and aerospace industries, with the active participation of public and private sector fulfilling the objective of self-reliance as well as requirements of other friendly countries.

Rajnath Singh stated, "Aatmanirbhar Bharat was the centrepiece of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision and towards this, Ministry of Defence has announced numerous government reforms such as an increase in FDI to 74 per cent through the automatic route, the Defence Acquisition Procedure-2020, revised Offset guidelines to promote investment in India for co-development and co-production as also formulated the draft Defence Production and Export Promotion Policy 2020 (DPEPP 2020)during the preceding pandemic months to steer the vision as also for ease of business."

Rajnath Singh added that India's aerospace and defence sector has matured and is exploring mutually beneficial partnerships with friendly countries to set up manufacturing industries in India and defence equipment produced in India to be exported abroad. He further stated, "Aero India-21 will showcase the government's intent to achieve a turnover of USD 25 billion with exports of USD 5 billion in aerospace and defence goods and services by 2025".

The representatives from across the world were briefed that Aero India-21 will be a business-oriented event and will be compliant with the COVID-19 stipulations. The event has received tremendous interest since the launch of the event website by the Defence Minister on 11 September 2020 and more than 90 per cent of space has been booked reflecting the tremendous interest shown by exhibitors to participate in the aero show. The fine-tuning of the business events and seminars are being planned and over 500 exhibitors are expected at Asia's largest aeroshow.

The Defence Minister also urged the ambassadors to impress upon their leadership and Industry captains of their respective countries and defence industries to participate in Aero India-21 in a big way so as to "dive deep into the strategic and business opportunities available in India with the aim of establishing strategic partnerships".

Rajnath Singh also released the official Aero India 2021 inaugural film on the occasion.

The theme of the event 'The runway to a billion opportunities', encompasses the gamut of Aerospace and Defence manufacturing including opportunities in the civil aerospace domain. The Defence Minister expressed confidence that Aero India-21 will demonstrate India's ability to take the lead and further build on our strengths in the post COVID world.

Department of Defence Production gave a detailed presentation on all aspects of Aero India-21 and built-in assurances to be compliant with COVID-19 stipulations. The Government of Karnataka also gave a presentation informing the participants about the preparedness of the state to conduct the show in a controlled and safe environment.

Chief Minister of Karnataka BS Yediyurappa also addressed the distinguished audience and assured them that government of Karnataka would make all necessary preparations towards safe conduct of the Aero India-21 in February 2021 at Bengaluru keeping in mind the safety of the participants and in compliance with the COVID-19 protocols.

Raksha Rajya Mantri Shripad Yesso Naik and Secretary (Defence Production) Raj Kumar also addressed the gathering and echoed the resolve of the Ministry of Defence to steer the indigenous defence industry as one of the pillars of Atmanirbhar Bharat and invited the foreign delegates to Aero India-21. (ANI)

UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi positive for COVID-19

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi (Photo/Grandi on Twitter)

Geneva [Switzerland], October 7 (ANI): United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi on Wednesday said he has tested positive for COVID-19.

He revealed in a tweet that he is mildly symptomatic.

"I am engaging with UNHCR's Executive Committee from home as I have to isolate afte
r testing positive to #COVID19. I only have mild symptoms and hope to recover soon," the High Commissioner wrote on Twitter.

He also urged people to wear a mask and maintain social distancing to curb the spread of the virus.

"A reminder of the importance of washing hands, keeping distances and wearing masks!" the tweet read further. (ANI)

Italian Council of Ministers prolongs COVID-19 state of emergency until Jan 31: Sources

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Rome [Italy] October 7 (ANI/Sputnik): The Italian Council of Ministers has decided to extend the country's coronavirus disease-related state of emergency until January 31, 2021, sources in the government told reporters on Wednesday.

The decision has been taken as public health officials have noticed a surge in new COVID-19 cases after Italy had begun to accept tourists for the end of the summer season. The state of emergency had initially been scheduled to expire on October 15.

Ministers took the decision at a meeting in Rome on Wednesday, upon consultation of a document published by the minister of health, Roberto Speranza, one day before.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said this past Thursday that he would ask parliament to extend the COVID-19 state of emergency until the end of January.

Since the start of the pandemic, Italy has registered more than 330,000 positive tests for the coronavirus disease, resulting in 36,030 deaths, according to data provided by the Ministry of Health.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Health announced that 2,677 new cases had been registered in Italy over the preceding 24 hours, a rise from the 2,257 positive tests confirmed one day prior. (ANI/Sputnik)

US strongly condemns deadly terrorist attack in Syria's Al Bab: State Department

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Washington [US], October 7 (ANI/Sputnik): The United States is deeply concerned over the rising number of terrorist attacks in Syria and strongly condemns this week's deadly car bombing in the Syrian town of Al-Bab, State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement on Wednesday.

"The United States strongly condemns the terrorist attack near a crowded traffic circle in al-Bab yesterday, which according to initial reports killed more than 20 innocent people and injured scores more," Ortagus said. "We are deeply troubled by the rise in such terrorist attacks in recent months, and we again remind all parties that violence impedes the hope for a lasting political resolution to the conflict in Syria as called for by UNSCR 2254."

On Tuesday, the state-run SANA news agency reported that dozens of civilians were killed and wounded in the blast, which occurred on the territory controlled by Turkish-backed armed groups. (ANI/Sputnik)

Low finance options leading to increased home sales: Emkay

Low financing rates, upfront discounts and regulatory reliefs on stamp duty charges are leading to rise in sales. (Photo: ANI)

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], October 7 (ANI): Residential launches and sales across the country are at 50 per cent of the pre-Covid level while the office space absorption is at 30 per cent, Emkay Global Financial Services said on Wednesday in a pre-festive channel check report.

This is primarily driven by historically low financing rates, upfront discounts and regulatory reliefs on stamp duty charges. Investment demand is yet to recover and city-centric sales are being driven largely by younger customers in the age bracket of 32 to 38 years, said the Emkay report.

In the first half of calendar 2020, residential launches were down by 46 per cent year-on-year to 60,489 units except for Kolkata which showed an increase of 37 per cent. All other major cities were down by 30 to 80 per cent.

Continuing in line with the past trends, 58 per cent of new launches were in the less than Rs 50 lakh category. But investor demand for apartments is currently missing from the market and the share of affordable housing in sales is down by 300 basis points to 47 per cent, said Emkay.

In the commercial real estate segment, the supply is reported to be down 27 per cent to 1.6 million square metres for H1 CY20.

The supply is impacted severely in every city (down 50 to 90 per cemt) except Mumbai (plus 90 per cent due to low base in last year) and Chennai (plus 11 times due to one single property being completed).

The IT sector is a large consumer of commercial space and has been in a wait-and-watch mode.

"The government stimulus to real sector has not been given on the demand side but large positive stimulus given to the supply side which will benefit selective strong players in the market," said Emkay.

Mortality within smaller and weaker players is expected to be higher, it added. (ANI)

ISSA Global Biorisk Symposium announces reputable symposium for Biorisk Mitigation & Infection Control

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Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], October 7 (ANI/PRNewswire): Informa Markets in India, the organisers of leading exhibitions such as the Facilities Management Show, has announced the Indian chapter of the ISSA Global Biorisk Symposium, the result of a strategic partnership with ISSA, the worldwide cleaning industry association, and the Global Biorisk Advisory Council® (GBAC), a Division of ISSA.

The symposium's mission is to help cleaning professionals prepare for, respond to, and recover from the novel coronavirus and other infectious agents.

The India edition of the Global Biorisk Symposium will be held virtually on Friday, December 11, 2020 between 11 AM - 6 PM. It will be one part of a tripartite symposium being held in Bangkok (virtually and in person on December 3-4) and in Shanghai (virtually on September 10, 2020 in partnership with the China Clean Expo (CCE) & Hotel Plus).

Spread among multiple countries and dates, the ISSA Global Biorisk Symposium brings together the people and companies redefining the global cleaning community with the single mission of changing the way the world views cleaning.

The virtual symposiums are designed to provide the commercial, institutional, and residential cleaning industries with lessons learned and best practices in disaster management and readiness and resiliency, as well as leadership in times of crisis.

"We are extremely pleased to host the power-packed event as a part of the reputed ISSA Global Risk Symposium. As the evolving impacts of COVID-19 ripple through communities, the world has been facing unforeseen challenges. Dynamic global markets are forcing organisations to innovate at a blinding speed to stay ahead while the rapid advances in technology are providing both opportunities and challenge. The symposium will be an unparalleled opportunity for professionals to join in the conversation with peers as experienced business leaders share ways to lead through innovation," said Yogesh Mudras, Managing Director, Informa Markets in India, while speaking on the announcement of this exclusive one-day event.

"Over the years, Informa Markets in India, through shows such as Facilities Show India, among others, has played a vital role in creating awareness and demand for products and services related to the world of services and amenities of smart cities and workplaces. I am sure, with the launch of this symposium, we will be able to share and exchange knowledge on recent trends, innovations, developments and solutions, that will enable professionals to take proactive measures in prevention, management, and preparing for public health situations within the workspace arena," he further added.

Power-packed agenda

The symposium will bring together global and Indian thought leaders to discuss subjects such as "Forging Biosafety: Preventing the Next Pandemic;" "Biorisk Management -Strategic Framework for Action (Panel Discussion);" "Making Cities Livable, Safe, and Resilient to Avoid Future Pandemics (Panel Discussion);" "Getting Your Workplace Ready (Presentation and Case Study);" "Focus on Hygiene and Cleanliness * Minimalist Design;" "Healthcare Management-New Ways of Working Changing the Healthcare Sector (Presentation);" "Food Monitoring Services Global Public Health Intelligence Network (GPHIN) - Early Warning System for Global Public Health Threats."

Some of the confirmed speakers include John Low, Dr. R. Bhattacharya, Dr. K. Krishnamurthi, Patricia (Patty) Olinger, JM, RBP, Certified Forensic Operator®, Certified Bio-Forensic Restoration Specialist®, Jit Kumar Gupta, Dr. Gavin Macgregor-Skinner BVSc, MSc, MPH, MRCVS, Certified Forensic Operator®, Certified Bio-Forensic Restoration Specialist®, Rajeev Karwal, Founder Chairman- Milagrov Robots, Vivek Mata, Managing Director, Charnok Equipments.

The structure

Sessions are concise, resulting in an information-packed programme. All symposiums are free to attend by connecting directly through the Symposium registration site. Questions can be asked via a chatbox and are read out by the meeting moderators. Each panel has been carefully assembled with only the top experts in their fields to bring you the best solutions possible.

This is not just another online training-the ISSA Global Biorisk Symposium's team of experts and academics from across the industry and world will speak on various angles related to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that can cause COVID-19 disease, including strategies for training frontline workers, cleaning methods and processes, and communicating with stakeholders.

Presenters will not only bring the latest ideas, but many will speak to what is happening in the world RIGHT NOW. Speakers will have timely and inspiring messages that will speak to the "Changing the Way the World Views Cleaning."

Who should attend?

The ISSA Global Biorisk Symposium establishes a framework for communication and awareness best practices throughout the world-geared towards public facilities seeking to improve their operating procedures related to sanitation and infection control requirements for maintaining a clean environment and mitigating biological risks.

Ideal for cleaning industry professionals, environmental services personnel, forensic restoration teams, biosafety professionals, and biohazardous spill response teams, as well as managers of facilities like offices, restaurants, hotels, airports, convention centers, stadiums, and other public venues of all sizes.

The benefits

Learn to assess a facility's preparedness and provide staff with training for biorisk prevention and containment.

Access to on-demand content after the event.

Ask any questions you may have through our scheduled Q&A sessions throughout the event.

Hear compelling, real-world customer success stories and learn best practices from relevant businesses and organizations.

Learn the latest advancements in operating procedures related to sanitation and infection control requirements for maintaining a clean environment and mitigating biological risks.

More opportunities and exposure for participating companies

The ISSA Global Biorisk Symposium announced new digital sponsorship opportunities enabling eager companies to showcase products and services to key decision-makers within the industry while building brand awareness and improving their positions as leading influencers.

ISSA Global Biorisk Symposium In partnership with the Global Biorisk Advisory Council® (GBAC), a division of ISSA, the worldwide cleaning industry association, and Informa Markets - the ISSA Global Biorisk Symposium is comprised of multiple virtual symposia throughout the world.

The ISSA Global Biorisk Symposium is designed to bring in-depth knowledge in the field of microbial-pathogenic threat analysis, mitigation, response, and recovery. The symposium experts provide cutting-edge research that appeals to a broad expanse of the commercial, institutional, and cleaning community.

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

Japan attaches importance to its strategic relations with India: FM Motegi

The meeting between Jaishankar and Motegi went on for over an hour. (Photo: ANI)

Tokyo [Japan], October 7 (ANI): Underscoring that Japan attaches importance to its strategic relations with India, Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi on Wednesday said he intends to continue working with India's External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar to further elevate the Japan-India Special Strategic and Global Partnership.

Motegi made these remarks during the 13th Japan India Foreign Ministers' Strategic Dialogue. The meeting between Jaishankar and Motegi went on for over an hour, during which they discussed a wide range of issues including politics and security as well as the economy and economic cooperation, according to a statement by the Japanese foreign ministry.

Referring to the signing of exchanges of notes in late August for Japan's COVID-19 measures for India, namely a 50 billion yen emergency assistance loan and a 1 billion yen grant aid for the provision of medical equipment, Motegi expressed his hope that this assistance will contribute to developing the health and medical systems of India, including the COVID-19 response.

In response, Minister Jaishankar expressed his appreciation.

The ministers reaffirmed the importance of implementing Japan-India cooperation in other countries such as ASEAN and Southwest Asian countries and making steady progress on the high-speed rail project.

The ministers exchanged a range of views regarding cooperation for realising a "Free and Open Indo-Pacific" and affirmed their intention to continue boosting the bilateral cooperation, including the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative promoted by India.

"The Ministers exchanged opinions regarding the issue of North Korea. Minister Motegi asked for understanding and cooperation towards the early resolution of the abductions issue and Minister Jaishankar expressed his support," the statement read.

Minister Motegi congratulated India on its election as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). The Ministers affirmed that the two countries will cooperate toward realising UNSC reforms as early as possible. (ANI)

Youtube allows its premium subscribers to test in-development features

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Washington [US], October 7 (ANI): Video-sharing platform YouTube has changed the way it tests new features. The platform is now allowing its Premium subscribers access to experimental products in the development pipeline, according to XDA-Developers.

As per The Verge, previously, those features were tested by Google users picked at random to beta test.

The new features available for Premium subscribers to test currently, include watching videos with sound and seeking on your YouTube homepage on iOS; voice searching for YouTube videos on-site (only on Chrome); and filtering by topic in additional languages. The language at the top of YouTube's experimental features page also says that Premium members can only access these features for a limited time.

YouTube Premium costs USD 11.99 a month, and it also gives the users an ad-free viewing, background play, and access to YouTube Music, among other features. (ANI)

4 soldiers killed in Taliban car bomb attack in Afghanistan

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Kabul [Afghanistan], October 7 (ANI/Sputnik): Four Afghan soldiers were killed and three others injured in a car bomb attack that the Taliban radical movement carried out against a security post of the National Army in the southern Helmand province, Omar Zwak, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said on Wednesday.

According to the spokesman, the attack took place at 11.00 p.m. local time on Tuesday (18:30 GMT).

Zwak specified that the Taliban carried out this attack in the Yakhchal area of Greshk district.

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

China's sudden turn towards 'gross aggression' reason behind conflict with India: US State Department

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Washington [US], October 7 (ANI): Referring to the Galwan Valley face-off between Indian and Chinese troops, US State Department on Tuesday (local time) said that the recent incident where troops of both sides "beat each other to death" is a result of the Chinese government's sudden turn towards "gross aggression" in its entire periphery.

Addressing a press briefing on the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo's visit to Tokyo, a State Department official compared the past conflicts between India and China with the current standoff saying the conflicts "in the Himalayas between China and India" has been "something that has been in the past handled according to unspoken or unwritten rules in the past to prevent these things from getting out of control".

However, the official said, the driving force behind the current conflict is the sudden turn toward gross aggression by the Chinese Government in its entire periphery.

"The conflict in the Himalayas between China and India, something that has been in the past handled according to unspoken or unwritten rules in the past to prevent these things from getting out of control, and then you look at what happened here recently, where you've got actually people beating each other to death," the official said.

"...If you look at the single thing that's driving all this, it's a sudden turn toward gross aggression by the Chinese government in its entire periphery. I mean, you take it all the way around the Indo-Pacific and its western borders; you're seeing things that you haven't seen before, and these are responding to that," the official added.

The Chinese and Indian troops are engaged in a stand-off since early May along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh.

The situation along the LAC deteriorated in June following the Galwan Valley clash in which both sides suffered casualties.

Twenty Indian soldiers lost their lives in the violent face-off on June 15-16. It happened as a result of an attempt by the Chinese troops to unilaterally change the status quo during the de-escalation in eastern Ladakh.

Speaking about Pompeo's opening remarks at the Quad foreign ministers meeting, another State Department official said that the State Secretary has framed his discussion during the meeting with Foreign Ministers of India, Japan and Australia around the free world versus Chinese authoritarianism and there was a lot of agreement "around that table".

"But we also have to frame the problem correctly. This isn't about a U.S.-China dispute. This is about the free world versus Chinese authoritarianism. And the Secretary speaks frequently about that, and that's the way he framed his discussions, and there was a lot of agreement around that table," the officials remarked.

Pompeo has denounced China's "exploitation, corruption, and coercion" as he participated in a meeting in Tokyo of the Quad grouping of nations - the United States, Japan, India, and Australia.

"As partners in this Quad, it is more critical now than ever that we collaborate to protect our people and partners from the CCP's exploitation, corruption and coercion," Pompeo had said. (ANI)

US 'deeply concerned' with reports about Turkey's possible S-400 system tests

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Washington [US], October 7 (ANI/Sputnik): The US State Department said it was concerned about reports on possible tests by Turkey of Russian S-400 air defense missile systems.

Earlier, it was reported that Ankara had deployed Russian S-400 air defense systems to the Black Sea province of Samsun - probably for testing. The Turkish authorities have not made any official statements on this yet.

"We are aware of these reports. We continue to object strenuously to Turkey's purchase of the S-400 air defense system, and are deeply concerned with reports that Turkey is continuing its efforts to bring the S-400 into operation. Our suspension of Turkey from the F-35 program, in response to the S-400 acquisition, signaled the seriousness with which the Administration approaches this issue," a State Department spokesperson told Sputnik.

"We continue to stress at the highest levels that the S-400 transaction remains a major obstacle in the bilateral relationship and at NATO, as well as a risk for potential CAATSA sanctions. We are confident that President Erdogan and his senior officials understand our position," the spokesperson said. (ANI/Sputnik)

Amid Pak Army chief's visit to PoK, locals take to streets demanding release of '14 sons of Hunza'

The protestors chanted the slogan as 'Free 14 sons of Hunza'. (Photo: ANI)

Hunza [PoK], October 7 (ANI): A protest was organised in Aliabad Hunza of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) with people demanding the release of 14 local men, including political leader Baba Jan, who were jailed in 2011 for 'inciting' people against the government.

The protestors vowed to continue with the agitation till acceptance of their demand. The protests come at the time when Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa is visiting PoK. Bajwa has inaugurated state-of-the-art Software Technology Park, an initiative of the Special Communication Organisation (SCO), in Gilgit on Tuesday.

The protest was called by Aseeran-i-Hunza Rihaee Committee, a body formed to push for the release of the incarcerated leaders.

About 500 male and female political activists from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Pakistani Muslim League (Nawaz) (PML-N), religious and local organisations, and family members of the prisoners gathered at College Chowk in Aliabad Hunza, blocking the Karakoram Highway

The protesters were holding placards inscribed with different slogans, calling for giving justice to the jailed people. They also chanted the slogan as 'Free 14 sons of Hunza'.

The protesters said Baba Jan and 13 other people had been sentenced to life imprisonment in 2011 for what they said raising voice for the rights of victims of the Attabad lake disaster.

They said it was astonishing that the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) charges had been slapped against the people.

Baba Jan is serving a ninety-year sentence which is based on trumped-up charges. He is an activist who challenged the then Pakistani administration which was essentially working against the people of Gilgit Baltistan.

The Pakistan establishment has used the draconian schedule IV of the Anti-Terrorism Act in Gilgit Baltistan to muzzle the reasonable voices that resist its repression.

It has framed dozens under the law not only to give itself a free rein to rule the region but also to send a threatening message to all sections of the society

Puppet governments in Gilgit and Muzaffarabad, which largely operate at the command of the feudal elite of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, have committed systematic human rights violations to suppress the people of the region and keep them marginalised.

Pakistan makes huge claims at international platforms about working for the welfare of Kashmiri people but the ground reality reeks of a rapidly deteriorating human rights situation in the region. (ANI)

EAM Jaishankar, Japanese counterpart hold bilateral meeting in Tokyo

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar

Tokyo [Japan], October 7 (ANI): External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday held a bilateral meeting with Japanese Foreign minister Toshimitsu Motegi in Tokyo.

Jaishankar and Motegi also met on Tuesday during Quad foreign ministerial meet (India, United States, Australia and Japan) here.

ing yesterday's meeting, foreign ministers of the Quad member countries called for a coordinated response to the challenges including financial problems emanating from the pandemic; need to share best practices to combat COVID-19; increasing the resilience of supply chains; and enhancing access to affordable vaccines, medicines, and medical equipment, according to the Ministry of External Affairs.

Earlier in the day, Jaishankar also met his Australian counterpart, Marise Payne, on the sidelines of the Quad foreign ministerial meet and discussed expanding cooperation between New Delhi and Canberra in global affairs and regional issues.

Jaishankar held a meeting with US State Secretary, Mike Pompeo as well. The Indian minister said that India and the United States will work together for "stability and prosperity" in the India-Pacific. (ANI)

UK to allocate $6.4 million in humanitarian aid to Ukraine

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London [UK], October 7 (ANI/Sputnik): The UK will allocate 5 million pounds sterling ($6.4 million) in humanitarian aid to Ukraine, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said in a statement.

The relevant announcement will be made during Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's two-day visit to London on October 7-8.

"As part of the visit, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will meet Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba to reaffirm the UK's support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity... Dominic Raab will also announce £5m of humanitarian aid to support communities in eastern Ukraine who have been affected by the conflict and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic," the FCO said. (ANI/Sputnik)

ISS to lower orbit before arrival of Soyuz spacecraft with crew

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Moscow [Russia], October 7 (ANI/Sputnik): The orbital altitude of the International Space Station (ISS) is to be reduced by 1.3 kilometres (0.8 miles) before the arrival of the superfast Soyuz spacecraft with a crew, a spokesman for Russia's Roscosmos state space corporation told Sputnik.

"In order to form ballistic conditions before the launch and docking of the Soyuz MS-17 manned spacecraft, the next correction of the ISS orbit is scheduled for October 7," the spokesman said.

Russians Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, as well as American Christopher Cassidy, are currently working on the ISS. (ANI/Sputnik)

EAM Jaishankar, Payne discuss India, Australia expanding cooperation in global affairs, regional issues

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met his Australian counterpart, Marise Payne.

Tokyo [Japan], October 07 (ANI): External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met his Australian counterpart, Marise Payne, on the sidelines of the Quad foreign ministerial meet and discussed expanding cooperation between New Delhi and Canberra in global affairs and regional issues.

Taking to Twitter on Wednesday, Jaishankar said he and Payne reviewed the progress in bilateral ties between the two countries after the June virtual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison.

In June, PM Modi and Morrison participated in a virtual bilateral summit and signed multiple agreements to further reaffirm their commitment to an enduring interest in a free, open, inclusive, and rules-based Indo-Pacific region, mutual logistics support (MLSA).

Jaishankar and Payne visited Tokyo to participate in the India, Australia, Japan, and US foreign ministers' meeting. The grouping of four countries is known as the Quad.

"Warm meeting with my good friend FM @MarisePayne of Australia. Reviewed the progress in our bilateral ties after the Virtual Summit between our PMs. Discussed expanding our cooperation in global affairs & regional issues. Will work together more closely in multilateral forums," Jaishankar tweeted.

The Quad foreign ministers meeting in Tokyo took place on Tuesday during which the foreign ministers of Quad member countries called for a coordinated response to the challenges including financial problems emanating from the pandemic; need to share best practices to combat Covid-19; increasing the resilience of supply chains; and enhancing access to affordable vaccines, medicines, and medical equipment, according to the Ministry of External Affairs. (ANI)

DNI declassifies CIA memo on Hillary Clinton 'stirring up' scandal between Trump, Russia before 2016 presidential election

Hillary Clinton

Washington [US], October 7 (ANI): US Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe on Tuesday declassified documents that revealed former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director John Brennan had briefed former President Barack Obama on Hillary Clinton's purported "plan" to tie then-candidate, Donald Trump, to Russia as "a means of distracting the public from her use of a private email server" ahead of the 2016 presidential election, Fox News has reported.

Ratcliffe has declassified Brennan's handwritten notes which were taken after he briefed Obama on the intelligence the CIA received and a CIA memo, which revealed that officials referred the matter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for potential investigative action.

The office of the Director of National Intelligence transmitted the declassified documents to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees on Tuesday afternoon, according to Fox News.

"Today, at the direction of President Trump, I declassified additional documents relevant to ongoing Congressional oversight and investigative activities," Ratcliffe said in a statement to Fox News Tuesday.

A source familiar with the documents explained that Brennan's handwritten notes were taken after briefing Obama on the matter.

"We are getting additional insight into Russian activities from [REDACTED]," Brennan notes read. "CITE [summarising] alleged approved by Hillary Clinton a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisers to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by the Russian security service," Brennan's notes read.

The notes state "on 28 of July." In the margin, Brennan writes "POTUS," but that section of the notes is redacted.

"Any evidence of collaboration between Trump campaign + Russia," the notes read.

The remainder of the notes is redacted, except in the margins, which reads: "JC," "Denis," and "Susan." "

The notes do not spell out the full names but, according to Fox News, "JC" could be referring to then-FBI Director James Comey, "Susan" could refer to National Security Adviser Susan Rice, and "Denis" could refer to Obama chief of staff Denis McDonough.

The declassification comes after Ratcliffe, last week, shared declassified information with the Senate Judiciary Committee which revealed that in September 2016, US intelligence officials forwarded an investigative referral on Clinton purportedly approving "a plan concerning US presidential candidate Trump and Russian hackers hampering US elections" in order to distract the public from her email scandal.

Ratcliffe informed the committee last week that the Obama administration obtained Russian intelligence in July 2016 with allegations against Clinton, but cautioned that the intelligence community "does not know the accuracy of this allegation or the text to which the Russian intelligence analysis may reflect exaggeration or fabrication."

According to Ratcliffe's letter, the intelligence included the "alleged approval by Hillary Clinton on July 26, 2016, of a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisers to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by Russian security services." (ANI)

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