Friday, October 23, 2020

Ariana Grande drops White House based music video of 'Positions'

A still from Ariana Grande's 'Positions'(Image Source: Youtube)

Washington [US], October 23 (ANI): Just a week after teasing fans with the announcement of an album, musician Ariana Grande on Friday dropped the music video of the first song 'Positions.'

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the music video features the pop superstar's characteristic soaring harmonies.

It also marks Grande's first solo song release since her 2019 album, 'thank u, next' after which she had teamed up for a number of collaborations, including 'Rain on Me' with Lady Gaga.

"Switching the positions for you/ Cooking in the kitchen and I'm in the bedroom/ I'm in the Olympics way I'm jumping through hoops/ Know my love infinite nothing I wouldn't do/ That I won't do, switching for," she sings in the song.

As per The Hollywood Reporter, the accompanying video is directed by Dave Meyers which sees the 27-year-old taking the top-most job at the White House. (ANI)

Israel, Sudan agree to normalise relations, announces US President Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump (File photo)

Washington [US], October 23 (ANI): US President Donald Trump on Friday announced that Sudan and Israel have agreed to the normalisation of relations, Al Jazeera reported.

Trump on Friday spoke with the leaders of Israel and Sudan as the two countries announced their plan to normalise ties, and further added that he expected the Palestinians and other nations, including Saudi Arabia, to also agree to closer ties in the coming months.

According to Al Jazeera, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a telephone call with Trump held in front of reporters at the White House, also welcomed what he called a rapidly expanding "circle of peace".

On September 11, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain officially agreed to normalise relations with Israel, in a trilateral phone conversation with US President Donald Trump and Netanyahu.

The move came after United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel had agreed to normalise relations in August. The first two Arab countries to recognise Israel were Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994. (ANI)

ED attaches assets worth Rs 11.92 lakhs in coal block case

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New Delhi [India], October 23 (ANI): Enforcement Directorate (ED) has attached movable property worth Rs 11.92 lakhs under Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002, (PMLA) in a case of illegal allocation of a coal block in Jharkhand.

"The attached assets include the balance lying in the bank account of Hotel Le Lac, Ranchi maintained with Axis Bank. Earlier ED has attached assets totalling to Rs 6.88 crore. Now including this attachment, the total attachment, in this case, is Rs 7 crore (approx.)," according to a release by ED.

"ED initiated investigations under PMLA on the basis of an FIR registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) under section 120B read with section 420 of IPC, 1860 against M/s DOMCO Pvt. Ltd., its Promoters/Directors and other unknown persons for submitting false information with dishonest intention to the concerned authorities while applying for a captive coal block and securing allocation of "Lalgarh (North)" coal block in West Bokaro Coalfield, Jharkhand and a pecuniary benefit of Rs. 7 Crores was obtained by accused Binay Prakash by offering to sell the shares of the company on premium, after allocation of the coal block to M/s DOMCO Pvt. Ltd., Ranchi," it said.

ED said that the investigation under PMLA revealed that accused Binay Prakash placed the proceeds of crime in banking system and subsequently the amount was siphoned off/ routed/invested through the entities of Binay Prakash' Group owned/controller by him.

"Identified asset in the form of the bank balance of Rs 11.92 Lakh was held in the name of Binay Prakash' Group has been provisionally attached under PMLA," ED said.

Earlier immovable properties held in the name of Binay Prakash' Group amounting to Rs. 3.96 crores and movable properties amounting to Rs. 2.92 crores were provisionally attached which have been confirmed by the Hon'ble Adjudicating Authority under PMLA, the agency said in the release.

According to the ED, prosecution Complaint under PMLA has also been filed before the Special Court of Bharat Parashar, Special Judge (PC Act), New Delhi. (ANI)

Sikali Jatra, an alternative for Dashain for people of Khokana in Nepal

Sikali Jatra celebrations in Lalitpur, Nepal

Lalitpur [Nepal], October 23 (ANI): Known for its cultural identity and mustard oil, Khokana, a medieval Newari heritage village in the Southern part of Kathmandu Valley celebrates the Sikali Jatra instead of the Dashain Festival.

Observed for a period of five days, the Sikali Jatrais are dedicated to goddess "Shikali" who also is known as "Ajima" or Mother Goddess. It is believed that Gods and Goddesses in human form take flights as they tour around the Sikali temple which is located at a grassy hill just outside the village.

"Jatrastarts from the day of Ghatasthapana, we don't have a tradition of wearing the Jamara or tika," Bekhanar Maharjan, one of the priests around Newar village of Khokana in Lalitpur District of Kathmandu Valley told ANI.

HC grants interim protection to 3 accused of assaulting Youtuber over derogatory remarks

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Kochi (Kerala) [India], October 23 (ANI): The Kerala High Court on Friday granted interim protection from arrest till October 30 to dubbing artist Bhagyalakshmi and two others for allegedly assaulting a YouTuber named Vijay P Nair over the latter's "derogatory" remarks against women.

A single-judge bench of Justice Ashok Menon, while hearing the anticipatory bail applications of the accused, observed that it is not proper to take the law into your hands even if the other person has said the nastiest of things.

"If you are bold enough to go and beat up a man, why are you afraid of facing the consequences? Why are you shy about appearing before the police or going to jail? Probably they did not have faith in the police and decided to do it themselves. That also needs to be taken into consideration," the bench observed.

"Custodial interrogation may not be necessary. Nothing is to be recovered from the accused. And there is doubt about the application of Section 452 (of the Indian Penal Code). But vigilantism cannot be encouraged," it added.

Section 452 of the IPC pertains to house-trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint.

Earlier, a district court in Thiruvananthapuram had rejected the anticipatory bail plea filed by Bhagyalakshmi and two others in a case of assaulting the YouTuber.

The incident pertains to one Vijay P Nair, who shared abusive remarks about women on his YouTube Channel. A group of women including Bhagyalakshmi allegedly beat him up and threw black ink at him. Police registered cases against both parties acting on separate complaints.

Vijay was arrested by police and the women are yet to be arrested though a case was registered against them by the police. In a separate complaint, the police are also conducting a probing against Sreelakshmi Arakkal, who allegedly shared and promoted vulgar contents through her YouTube videos.

The video of the women assaulting the blogger has been shared widely on social media after the women in the group shared the incident live on Facebook. The women have been booked for manhandling and robbery which can lead to imprisonment of up to five years. The women had allegedly also forcibly taken his laptop after assaulting him. (ANI)

US suspends visa services in Turkey over reports of potential terrorist attacks

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Washington [US], October 23 (ANI/Sputnik): The United States has temporarily halted citizen and visa services at its embassy and consulates in Turkey due to credible threats of potential violence against US citizens, the US Embassy in Ankara said in a security alert on Friday.

"The US Mission in Turkey has received credible reports of potential terrorist attacks and kidnappings against US citizens and foreign nationals in Istanbul, including against the US Consulate General, as well as potentially other locations in Turkey," the advisory said.

"All American Citizen and visa services at US Mission in Turkey's facilities (including US Embassy-Ankara, US Consulate General-Istanbul, US Consulate-Adana, and the US Consular Agency-Izmir) will be temporarily suspended." (ANI/Sputnik)

International Day of Diplomats to be celebrated on Oct 24, globally

International Day of Diplomats to be celebrated on October 24. (Photo: ANI)

New Delhi [India], October 23 (ANI):
A number of diplomats around the world are celebrating October 24 as International Diplomats Day to highlight the contributions made by diplomats in shaping the world since ancient times and in making our planet a better place.

Celebration of International Day of
 Diplomats was started in Brasilia on October 24, 2017 by Indian poet-diplomat Abhay K. and since then diplomats of several countries have participated in celebrating it annually. The celebration aims to bridge the gap in perception and reality of diplomat's life among the general public.

This year diplomats are going to post a short video or text of what does it mean to be a diplomat, serving in different geographies, navigating diverse cultures, languages among others, a high point in their careers as diplomats while people are going to post their impressions of interacting with a diplomat or their perceptions of a diplomat, what do they do, how do they help in safeguarding their interests, a poem on diplomats, etc.

They will be using hashtags #InternationalDiplomatsDay and #ServingPeopleGlobally while posting their messages.

Abhay K. said, "Diplomats play a key role in maintaining a peaceful world order by means of effective communication among the States, initiating agreements and treaties, implementing them and advising political leaders on critical foreign policy matters."

"They are at the heart of bringing and keeping the world together. In fact, war ensues when diplomacy fails, bringing death and destruction upon societies and civilisations. A country that has skilled diplomats does not have to go to war," the diplomat added. (ANI) 

Delhi Metro, SBI launch credit-cum-smart card with auto top-up facility

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New Delhi [India], October 23 (ANI): The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) in association with the SBI Card on Friday launched the 'Delhi Metro - SBI card', a multipurpose credit card for the benefit of the commuters, with an auto top-up facility.

The credit-cum-smart card was jointly launched by DMRC Managing Director Dr Mangu Singh and Ashwini Kumar Tewari, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, SBI Card in the presence of other senior officials from the Delhi Metro and SBI Card.

"This multipurpose card will enable its users to use it as a smart card with auto-top up facility whenever the balance of the card goes below Rs 100. The credit card facility will automatically recharge a top-up value of Rs 200 to the card from the user's linked card/bank account. In addition, this combo card can also be used for all regular credit card transactions," an official statement said.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Mangu Singh said, "This initiative is in line with the DMRC's commitment towards supporting the digital drive to promote cashless transactions among the Delhi Metro commuters, at a time when social distancing has become a way of life. We believe that this 'DELHI METRO SBI Card' can serve as an essential instrument in facilitating safe Metro commute in these pandemic times.''

Ashwini Kumar Tewari said that they are bringing an unparalleled value proposition to the market with this card. "The card offers an enhanced daily commute experience to millions of metro commuters together with a rewarding experience on their daily purchases. We have tied up with DMRC to put up kiosks at 100 identified stations," Tewari said.

He said that commuters can now apply for the 'DELHI METRO SBI Card' at metro stations as well as online through the e-apply platform on the SBI Card portal.

DMRC, in the recent past, has already launched various other initiatives to facilitate easy top-up of smart cards/sale of tokens to avoid queues and save time at stations. This includes options of smart card top-up through TVMs, the launch of metro combo cards with other banks, credit/debit card transaction facilities at stations, net banking using, mobile wallets, etc. (ANI)

20 Afghan army personnel killed in Taliban attack in Nimroz

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Kabul [Afghanistan], October 23 (ANI): At least 20 members of the Afghan National Army (ANA) were killed in a Taliban attack on their outpost in Khashrod district, Nimroz province, on Thursday said the district governor of Khashrod.

According to Tolo News, the district governor said that six others were taken hostage by the Taliban. However, the official did not provide any details on the attack.

There have been no comments made by the Defence Ministry, so far. The latest incident comes in wake of an increase in violence across the country despite the ongoing peace negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghanistan Government in Doha.

On Thursday, the Ministry of Defence said that the Taliban terrorists have expanded their attacks to 24 provinces in the last 24 hours that include Takhar, Helmand, Uruzgan, Kunduz, Baghlan, Laghman, Paktia, Paktika, Ghazni, Logar, Maidan Wardak, Kandahar, Zabul, Herat, Farah, Badghis, Faryab, Sar-e-Pul and Badakhshan provinces.

The Defence Ministry said that on Wednesday night in Takhar province an Afghan Air Force strike killed "12 Taliban including several of their commanders," as reported by Tolo News.

It further reported that the airstrike was conducted in the "Hazara Qarluq" village of Baharak district, according to the statement adding that during a clash between "these Taliban" and the ANP on Monday, a "number of our police" were killed.

At least four civilians were killed and 10 others were injured in a mortar attack in northern Faryab province on Thursday morning, local officials said.

On Wednesday, the Taliban "destroyed" an electricity pylon that brings power to Herat province the office of Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS) in Herat said. The incident took place in the Kalat-e-Ghazi village in Ghoryan district.

The Takhar's deputy police chief Raz Mohammad Doorandish and nearly 50 security force members were killed in clashes with the Taliban in the province on Tuesday night, the local officials said on Wednesday."47 people (security forces members) were killed, and three or four others were wounded," said Amir Mohammad Khaksar, an MP from Takhar, adding that "the casualties will increase." (ANI)

WhatsApp for Business new feature to help shopping experience within chat

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Washington [US], October 23 (ANI): Instant messaging application WhatsApp Business will soon be rolling out a new feature to let users shop for goods and services right from the chat window. The feature is currently under development.

According to Mashable, as part of the new feature, all the WhatsApp business account users would be directly able to provide product catalogues to their customers from within the chat window. A shopping button will be added on WhatsApp which will be rolled out in India soon.

The shopping button will let users add items to a cart, and check out from within the WhatsApp chat. This new feature is aimed towards aiding small businesses that have been hit hard by the pandemic.

As reported by Mashable, apart from that, WhatsApp also recently announced that it will now charge businesses for some services on the WhatsApp Business app. Facebook hasn't yet revealed the pricing details. But, what this means is that businesses will have to pay for certain services. However, WhatsApp for Business app will continue to remain free for end-users. (ANI)

China not committed to curbing terrorism but using Pak as tool against India: Report

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Washington DC [US], October 23 (ANI): Pakistan appears to be counting on China to diplomatically shield Islamabad from accountability for its terror activities while Beijing's desire is to use terrorism as a tool to counter India, according to Public Policy Researcher Michael Rubin.

In an opinion piece for The Washington Examiner, Rubin said, "Beijing appears less committed to counterterrorism and more to a desire to use Pakistani terrorism as a tool to harass India with whom it is locked in a border clash in Ladakh."

"The reality of both great power competition and China's efforts to undermine and replace the post-World War II liberal order is that they occur on a number of fronts. Increasingly, it appears the FATF is one of them. Rather than make substantial reforms, Pakistani officials appear to be counting on the fact that China will go to bat for them diplomatically and shield Pakistan from accountability," he added.

This statement comes ahead of the conclusion of the plenary meeting of FATF, which is expected to take a decision on Pakistan's compliance of the action plan and whether it will remain in Grey List or Black List.

The global money-laundering and terror-financing watchdog, is holding its plenary session from October 21 will decide the fate of Pakistan.

Talking about the meeting (last month) between Chinese Envoy Yao Jing with Pakistan's special adviser for finance, Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Rubin said: "both the representatives reportedly talked far less about FATF commitments and more about the USD 60 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), whose success depends on Pakistan's economic solvency and its escape from accountability to the FATF."

He further said China's vote on Pakistan's FATF status on Friday will show how Beijing subordinates the "liberal order" for its "narrow interests."

"...China's action and the Friday vote on the question of Pakistan's FATF status will be as much about countering terror finance as they are about whether China will use its membership in yet another international body to corrupt it beyond recognition, the goal being to subordinate the liberal order to Beijing's narrow interests," he said.

Early this month, the FATF's Asia Pacific Group (APG) on Money Laundering has kept Pakistan on "Enhanced Follow-up List" for its slow progress on the technical recommendations of the FATF to fight terror financing. Pakistan's progress has remained unchanged -- non-compliant on four counts.

The three-day plenary meeting will conclude on Friday. The country is in FATF's grey-list since 2018. (ANI)

MEP joins Indian diaspora in Paris to protest against Pakistan's invasion of Kashmir

Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from France Maxette Pirbakas joined the Indian diaspora during a silent protest organised near the Pakistan embassy in Paris.

Paris [France], October 23 (ANI): Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from France, Maxette Pirbakas joined the Indian diaspora during a silent protest organised on Thursday near the Pakistan embassy in Paris.

The protest was held against Pakistan's invasion of Kashmir by tribesmen on October 22 in 1947 and to commemorate it as the Black Day for Global Peace.

Asserting that the attack was the genesis of Pakistan's policy of using proxies to sponsor terror, the protesters called on the Pakistan government to stop supporting terrorist and extremist Islamic groups.

The demonstrators carried posters describing the flow of events in October 1947, from the attack on Kashmir by Pakistan armed tribesmen, the killing of innocent Kashmiris and the decision of the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir to join the Indian Union on October 25.

Posters with illustrations exhibiting the impact of Pakistan's State sponsorship of terror to South Asia and Europe were displayed.

Posters calling Pakistan a terror factory were also displayed.

MEP Maxette Pirbakas, who joined the event as a mark of solidarity with the people of India and Kashmir in particular, condemned terrorism.

Pirbakas, referring to the recent incidents of terrorism in France, including the tragic beheading of French school teacher Samuel Paty, stated that such incidents were reminders of the war that had been unleashed by forces of radicalisation on the secular world, with the aim to change the existing values and way of life.

She noted that India, a truly secular country, had been battling these radical forces for decades and it was only apt that October 22 is being observed as Black Day, all like-minded secular countries of the world should join hands to oppose States like Pakistan that sustain terror groups and pose a threat to global peace.

Following the protest, a memorandum addressed to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was handed over at the Pakistan embassy.

The memorandum called on Pakistan to stop its policy of State-sponsored terror in Kashmir and elsewhere and allow the Kashmiris a chance to live in peace. (ANI)

China warns Canada not to damage relations over Uyghur genocide issue

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian 

Beijing [China], October 23 (ANI): China has accused Canadian parliamentarians of spreading "lies and rumours," over the issue of genocide against the Uyghur minority community in Xinjiang.

"The sub-committee of the Canadian parliament neglects the fact of political stability, economic growth, ethnic solidarity and social harmony in Xinjiang. Its groundless statement is full of lies and disinformation. This is blatant interference in China's internal affairs and reflects those Canadian individuals' ignorance and prejudice," said Chinese spokesperson Zhao Lijian while responding to Canada's House of Commons subcommittee's statement.

Zhao Lijian said, "China has repeatedly made clear our stern position on Xinjiang. Xinjiang-related issues are not at all about human rights. The so-called genocide in Xinjiang is a rumour and a farse fabricated by some anti-China forces to slander China."

This comes after a subcommittee of Canada's Parliament called out China on genocide in Xinjiang province, The Globe and Mail reported. The committee also called for human rights-related sanctions.

Responding to Canada's subcommittee, Zhao said, "China has repeatedly made clear our stern position on Xinjiang. Xinjiang-related issues are not at all about human rights. The so-called genocide in Xinjiang is a rumour and a farse fabricated by some anti-China forces to slander China."

This follows after the Canadian committee used the term "concentration camps" to describe Chinese centres for forcible political indoctrination and skills training. It also mentioned documents with details on plans to subject women of child-bearing age to birth control in Xinjiang.

"Witnesses were clear that the Government of China's actions is a clear attempt to eradicate Uyghur culture and religion," the committee wrote.

Furthermore, the committee asked Canadian leadership to impose sanctions against Chinese officials for human-rights abuses.

Xinjiang region is home to around 10 million Uyghurs. The Turkic Muslim group, which makes up around 45 per cent of Xinjiang's population, has long accused China's authorities of cultural, religious and economic discrimination.

Classified documents known as the China Cables, accessed last year by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, threw light on how the Chinese government uses technology to control Uyghur Muslims worldwide.

However, China regularly denies such mistreatment and says the camps provide vocational training.

The Chinese government has been admonished world-over for its repressive measures against the ethnic Uyghurs like mass detention, mass surveillance, restriction of religious and cultural identities, as well as other gross human rights abuses. (ANI)

12 Taliban insurgents killed in Afghanistan's eastern province: Guv's office

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Kabul [Afghanistan], October 23 (ANI/Sputnik): Twelve Taliban insurgents, including six Pakistani nationals, were killed and seven other were injured in a retaliatory airstrike in Afghanistan's eastern province of Nangarhar, the provincial governor's office said on Friday.

"Twelve Taliban insurgents, including six Pakistanis, were killed and seven others wounded in a retaliatory airstrike in the Dando area of Khogyani district last night," the governor's office said in a statement.

The security forces seized seven Kalashnikov rifles belonging to the Taliban.

No civilians or law enforcement agents were harmed in the counter-attacks. (ANI/Sputnik)

India working with Somalian authorities for return of 33 nationals stuck in Mogadishu: Jaishankar

EAM Minister S Jaishankar.

New Delhi [India], October 23 (ANI): Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the Indian High Commission in Kenya are working for the return of 33 Indians stuck in Mogadishu, Somalia, said Union Minister S Jaishankar on Friday.

India has taken up their predicament with the Somalian authorities, he added.

"MEA and our High Commission in Nairobi are working on relief & return of 33 Indians stuck in Mogadishu, Somalia. High Commission of India in Nairobi, Kenya has taken up their predicament with Somalian authorities. We are in touch with the Somali Embassy in India," Jaishankar tweeted.

Earlier, thirty-three Indian labourers were reportedly held hostage by a company in Somalia for the past eight months. (ANI)

Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora holds protest in front of Pak Embassy in US

Global Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora (GKPD) & other community organisations hold a car protest rally in front of the Embassy of Pakistan in the U.S on Thursday.

Washington DC [US], October 23 (ANI): Global Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora (GKPD) and several other community organisations held a car protest rally in front of the Embassy of Pakistan in the U.S on Thursday (local time), remembering Pak's invasion of Kashmir in 1947.

Scores of people were seen chanting slogans calling Pakistan to vacate the illegally occupied Kashmir. "Pakistan vacate occupied Kashmir. Kashmir is an integrated part of India," one of the posters read.

Another poster said, "The jihadist invasion of 1947 in Kashmir didn't happen overnight, it was planned strategically by Pakistan."

Dr. Mohan Sapru, the rally organizer and Washington, DC GKPD coordinator said: "While using masks and current practice of social distancing, the rally protesters have gathered to voice their anguish and strong condemnation of Pakistan's 73-year long perpetual policy of cross-border terrorism and overt operations in Kashmir, which have especially targeted the minority communities i.e., Kashmiri Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Buddhists."

DC GKPD coordinator also said that Cross-border aggression against peaceful Kashmir by Pakistan-trained and sponsored militia called Kabalis on the fateful day of October 22, 1947 marked the birth of the Kashmir problem.

"The brutality of cross-border Islamic terrorism has continued unabated and resulted in the genocide and forced exodus of indigenous Kashmiri Hindus during the dark period of 1989-1991. Whether heinous terrorist acts happen in Kashmir, or US or any other part of the world, at the end of the day, terrorism is a blot on the conscience of humanity and cannot be a legitimate means to settle disputes in a civilized world," Sapru said.

He further said that the agony and hardships of a few hundred Kashmiri Hindu families, who continued to live in the Kashmir valley, still remain largely unaddressed."

The rally participant and community activist, Sidarth Ambardar, recalled Father George Shanks's account of murder of nuns by the invading Kabali militia in October 1947, and desecration of Chatti Padhshahi Gurdwara. He said: "Pakistani invaders in 1947 terrorized, looted and killed the locals."

European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS), in a recent commentary, called October 22 as the "darkest day" in the history of Jammu and Kashmir when Operation Gulmarg was launched in a bid to seize the territory.

According to a European think tank, the tribal invasion had left between 35,000 and 40,000 residents dead.

"The planners and perpetrators of the tribal invasion were, and remain, without doubt, the foremost enemies of the Kashmiri people. The day the invasion began on October 22, 1947, has to be the darkest day in the history of Jammu and Kashmir," the European think tank said. (ANI)

Preparations underway for PM Modi's rally in Sasaram, Bihar

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

Sasaram (Bihar) [India], October 23 (ANI): Preparations are underway on Friday morning at Biada Maidan in Sasaram ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's rally.

Similar preparations are also being made at Gaya and Bhagalpur.

The Prime Minister will address three rallies in Sasaram, Gaya and Bhagalpu
r in poll-bound Bihar.

Prime Minister Modi is scheduled to hold 12 election rallies in Bihar starting from today.

Earlier former Maharashtra Chief Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Bihar in-charge Devendra Fadnavis said: "Prime Minister Modi will hold 12 election rallies in Bihar for NDA (National Democratic Alliance) candidates. On October 23, he will hold rallies in Sasaram, Gaya and Bhagalpur. On October 28, Prime Minister will hold rallies in Darbhanga, Muzaffarpur and Patna. On November 3, he will hold rallies in Chhapra, East Champaran and Samastipur and later in West Champaran, Saharsa and Araria."

Fadnavis had asserted that people's trust in Prime Minister Modi will not only benefit his party but also its allies.

"A lot of enthusiasm is seen among people, wherever we go in Bihar and take Prime Minister Narendra Modi's name. The country and its people have placed their trust in PM Modi. This trust will benefit not only us but also our allies," he had said.

The BJP and the JDU had agreed to contest on 121-122 seats respectively in the 243-member assembly. The JDU, which has a share of 122 seats according to the understanding, has given seats to Hindustani Awaam Morcha of Jitin Ram Manjhi from its quota.

BJP had formally inducted the Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) into the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and assigned the party 11 seats as part of seat distribution among allies for the Bihar polls.

Bihar assembly elections will be held in three phases -- October 28, November 3, and 7 and the counting of votes will take place on November 10. (ANI)

Uttarakhand: 6 UPLC officials suspended for negligence of duty

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Dehdradun (Uttarakhand) [India], October 23(ANI): Six officials of Uttarakhand Power Corporation Limited (UPCL) were suspended for negligence of duty on Thursday.

Also, twelve officials have been charge-sheeted and three have been given notice.

Energy Secretary Radhika Jha has suspended one general 
manager of UPCL, two superintending engineers, one executive engineer and two accounts cadre officers in UPCL in the recovery of crores of rupees. (ANI)

US Presidential debate: Biden's focus will be on plans to recover from COVID, re-build economy, says Sabrina Singh

Sabrina Singh, Press Secretary to Senator Kamala Harris, speaking to ANI in a virtual interaction on Thursday (local time). Photo/ANI

Washington [US], October 23 (ANI): Sabrina Singh, US Press Secretary to Senator Kamala Harris, on Thursday (local time) said that Democratic Presential candidate Joe Biden's focus during the final debate will be on his plans to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and re-build the country's economy.

In an exclusive interview with ANI, Singh said that during the upcoming final Presidential debate Biden's focus will be on "why he is the best person to not only get through this pandemic but also bring our country and build back better when we get through this pandemic."

"We have a vision where there are hope and opportunity. Meanwhile, on the other side is Donald Trump who has been consistent in sowing division and hate in this country. I think the Americans are tired of that and so I think you are really gonna hear the former Vice President tonight make the case to the American people directly on why his path be the best one to see our country through this multi crisis that you are raising," she said.

She further said that unlike Trump, Biden will hold Vladimir Putin accountable who has continued to "undermine the present 2020 elections".

"You [Donald Trump] cannot criticise what Vladimir Putin has done. Putin has not only sown discord in the 2016 elections but he is continuing to undermine our 2020 elections today. Joe Biden is going to hold someone like Vladimir Putin accountable and that is not something that we have seen with Donald Trump. On contrary, we have seen someone like him [Trump] cozy up to Putin and that's extremely disturbing. Certainly, very different leadership under a Biden-Harris administration," she said.

On being asked about President Trump's biggest failures as POTUS, Singh highlighted the mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, stating that the President was not transparent with the people that resulted in the surge in both coronavirus cases and deaths due to the virus.

Singh further said, "This entire crisis has highlighted how the Trump administration, Donald Trump himself, is not only going to be transparent with the American people but also that they are not equipped to do the job."

"We do not have a plan to contact testing and tracing. If a vaccine is finally found, we as citizens, do not know the manner in which the COVID-19 vaccine will be available to us. We have no plan on how to distribute the vaccine," she added.

Drawing comparison between the upcoming Presidential elections and the previous 2016 US Presidential polls, Singh said that "the voters in Florida and Georgia and Nevada are surpassing some of their numbers at this time from 2016 as they are excited to participate in the opportunity to really make their voices heard".

"Donald Trump might not want to accept the results of the election but that is just too bad because the American people are the ones that decide the fate and outcome of who is elected in the White House in 2020," she said.

Responding to the continuous attacks on Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris, the Press Secretary said, "She is so strong, and it does not register with her she's heard it before. People are gonna make you know completely, whether it's sexist or racist comments."

The final presidential debate will be held at Belmont University in Nashville at 9 PM on Thursday (local time) and will be moderated by NBC News' Kristen Welker. (ANI)

US imposes sanctions against Iranian Ambassador to Iraq

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Washington [US], October 23 (ANI/Sputnik): The United States has imposed sanctions on the Iranian ambassador to Iraq, the Treasury Department said in a statement.

"Today, the US Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is designating Iraj Masjedi, a general in Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-[Quds] Force (IRGC-QF) and Iran's Ambassador to Iraq, for acting for or on behalf of the IRGC-QF," the statement said on Thursday.

Masjedi's designation is pursuant to the US counterterrorism sanctions regime against the IRGC, which the United States asserts is a terrorist entity.

The Treasury Department alleges that Masjedi, supposedly a confidante of the US-assassinated Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, oversaw the training and financing of Iranian-backed militias in Iraq. Additionally, the US claims that Masjedi used his role as ambassador to fund the IRGC's Quds Force.

The imposed sanctions allow authorities to seize all of Masjedi's assets in the United States, should he have any, and prohibit US and foreign entities with engaging in financial transactions with the ambassador.

In addition to the ambassador, the Treasury Department sanctioned five Iranian entities, alleged to have meddled in the US presidential election. (ANI/Sputnik)

China threatens action after US approves USD 1.8 billion in arms sales to Taiwan

Zhao Lijian, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson. (Photo: ANI)

Beijing [China], October 23 (ANI): China has threatened to make "make legitimate and necessary" action after the United States approved the potential sale of three weapon systems to Taiwan, including missiles and artillery, that could have a total value of USD 1.8 billion.

"China urges the US side to fully recognize the very damaging nature of arms sales to Taiwan, abide by the one-China principle and the provisions of the three China-US joint communiques, stop arms sales to and military ties with the Taiwan region, cancel its arms sales plans to avoid further harming China-US relations and cross-strait peace and stability. China will make a legitimate and necessary reaction in the light of the development of the situation," said Zhao Lijian, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, during a press briefing.

The move comes at a time when tensions between China and Taiwan are heightened. The relations between China and the US have also deteriorated in recent times due to various reasons including Indo-Pacific and coronavirus pandemic.

Further congressional notifications are expected to follow, including drones made by General Atomics and land-based Harpoon anti-ship missiles, made by Boeing, to serve as coastal defence cruise missiles.

China has repeatedly threatened Taiwan with invasion and has adopted an aggressive policy to intimidate the self-governing island.

For decades, the Chinese government has claimed authority over Taiwan. Though Taiwan is not recognised by the UN, its government maintains a relationship with the US and does not accept the Chinese authority.

The formal notification gives Congress 30 days to object to any sales but there is broad bipartisan support for the defence of Taiwan. (ANI)

Nigerian President calls on nation to end street protests against police brutality

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari

Abuja [Nigeria], October 23 (ANI/Sputnik): Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday (local time) called on the people to stop taking to the streets to protest against police violence.

"I call on all Nigerians to go about their normal businesses, and enjoin security agencies to protect the lives and properties of all law-abiding citizens without doing harm to those they are meant to protect. I, therefore, call on our youths to discontinue the street protests and constructively engage government in finding solutions," Buhari wrote on Twitter.

The #EndSARS rallies across Nigeria ignited after numerous claims implicated the country's Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) police unit in acts of killings, torture and blackmail. The department was disbanded by the authorities and replaced with the Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) squad. Nonetheless, the protests continued against other forms of police violence.

On Wednesday, Nigerian security forces opened fire on protesters in the southwestern city of Lagos, killing several people and leaving many others wounded. Many international organisations, including the United Nations, condemned the use of military force against protesters. (ANI/Sputnik)

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