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5 Pakistani soldiers killed in blast near LoC: Army

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Five Pakistani Army soldiers were killed and another injured in an explosion near the Line of Control (LoC) on Wednesday, the country's Army said.
 
The nature of the incident that took place in Chamb sector was being investigated, Pakistan armed forces' media wing Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement cited by local media.
 
It claimed that the incident was "an evidence of state-sponsored terrorism".
 
The ISPR identified the dead as Subedar Muhammad Sadiq, Sepoy Muhammamd Tayyab, Naik Sher Zaman, Sepoy Zohaib and Sepoy Ghulam Qasim.
 
IANS
 

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40 migrants killed in air strike in Libya

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At least 40 migrants were killed and more than 80 injured in an alleged air strike by forces loyal to Marshal Khalifa Haftar that hit a detention centre in Libya's capital, a source within the UN-backed government said on Wednesday.
 
According to the source, the attack was carried out overnight by F-16 fighter-bombers taking part in Haftar's military advance toward Tripoli, reported Efe news.
 
"The relief teams are working at the site of the attack. There are dozens of victims," a spokesman for the 'Volcano of Rage' operation launched by the so-called Government of National Accord to beat back Haftar's onslaught on the capital region told Efe.
 
Haftar, a strongman declaring himself Libya's supreme leader, encircled Tripoli on April 4 with the apparent aim of sending a clear message to the international community that his primary objective was to sabotage the current peace plan in place.
 
Since then, constant fighting has been taking place in the rural areas of southern Tripoli. The clashes have killed nearly 600 people, injured more than 5,000 and forced more than 30,000 families to leave their homes and become displaced.
 
The armed clashes have also severely affected thousands of migrants, mostly sub-Saharan Africans, who are in the vicinity of the capital waiting to attempt to illegally migrate to Europe or who are being held in detention centres after failing to do so.
 
According to several GNA officials, Haftar has intensified bombing in response to the loss several days ago of the town of Gharyan, located some 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Tripoli and the base that his troops used for the siege of the capital.
 
Libya is a failed state that was thrust into chaos and civil war after NATO helped various rebel groups overthrow the long dictatorship of Col. Muammar al-Gaddafi.
 
Since 2015 it has had two competing governments, one supported by the UN in Tripoli, which barely controls the capital and some small towns in the west of the country, and the other led by Haftar, who controls the rest of the vast territory and most of the oil resources.
 
IANS
 

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Mallya gets reprieve from UK HC, can appeal extradition ruling

Vijay Mallya
Vijay Mallya
The UK High Court on Tuesday allowed Indian business tycoon Vijay Mallya, charged with fraud and money-laundering back home, to appeal against his extradition to India, local media reported.
 
Mallya, whose extradition order had been upheld by the Westminister Magistrates' Court last year and his appeal against it rejected earlier this year, had moved the High Court in a last-ditch bid to stop being sent to India. 
 
According to the reports, had his appeal failed, he would have been on his way back home shortly. 
 
In the hearing on Tuesday, his lawyer Clare Montgomery argued that Mallya was being targeted on political considerations and had been "deliberately set up as a lightning rod of public anger at India's bad debt". It was unlikely he would get a fair trial in these circumstances, she added.
 
She also argued that Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot, who had cleared Mallya's extradition last year, had made "very serious errors of fact and law".
 
The 63-year-old Mallya, chairman of now defunct Kingfisher Airlines, left India on March 2, 2016 after defaulting on loans amounting to Rs 9,000 crore. He has repeatedly denied fleeing, and said that he is ready to pay back the money he owed to the Indian banks.
 
India had in 2017 filed for Mallya's extradition.
 
A consortium of 13 banks, led by the State Bank of India, has initiated loan recovery proceedings against him in a special court in Mumbai under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act.
 
The Enforcement Directorate had also moved the Special Prevention of Money Laundering Act Court last year to get Mallya declared a "fugitive economic offender" and confiscate his properties, estimated at more than Rs 12,000 crore, making it the first such case of its kind under the new law. 
 
IANS

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50 killed in Nigeria fuel tanker explosion

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At least 50 people have been killed and 70 others injured after a fuel tanker exploded in Nigeria'a Benue state, authorities said on Tuesday.
 
Eyewitnesses said the petrol tanker flipped over when the driver was trying to dodge a bump in the road and exploded in Ahumbe village on Monday.
 
State police spokeswoman Catherine Anene told Efe news that many people died as a result of the fire that spread to nearby homes.
 
Government spokesman Christopher Avi was cited by local media as saying that 50 people were burned to death while the wounded sustained serious injuries.
 
This type of accident is frequent in Nigeria due to the bad conditions of state infrastructure, poor vehicle maintenance and reckless driving.
 
Nigeria, Africa's largest oil producer and most populous country with some 200 million people, imports much of its fuel because its four refineries produce below capacity.
 
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34 killed in powerful Kabul blast

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At least 34 people were killed and 68 others injured after a powerful blast rocked the Afghan capital of Kabul on Monday, authorities said.
 
A witness told Xinhua news agency that militants had entered an under-construction building in the high security Pul-i-Mahmoud Khan area and were exchanging fire with the security forces who reached the area to control the situation.
 
According to the witness, the militants first detonated their explosives-laden car and then began firing.
 
The area is close to a branch of the the Defence Ministry building, a sports stadium, a branch of the Information and Culture Ministry and houses.
 
Following the explosion, which could be heard several kilometres away, a huge rising column of smoke could be seen, reports Efe news.
 
No militant group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet.
 
Monday's attack comes when a Taliban delegation and US representatives are carrying out the seventh round of meetings in Qatar to discuss peace negotiations in Afghanistan.
 
Both sides are seeking a way out of nearly two decades of armed conflict in the nation, although, so far the Taliban have refused to negotiate with the Afghan government.
 
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US: 10 killed in plane crash at an airport in Dallas

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At least ten people have died after a small aircraft crashed at an airport in Dallas, Texas.
 
All ten people on board were killed after it crashed at Addison Airport at 9:10 a.m local time on Sunday, Mary Rosenbleeth, spokeswoman for the city of Addison, was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency.
 
The twin-engine small plane had just taken off when it crashed into a hangar at the airport, about 25 km north of downtown Dallas, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) spokesperson Lynn Lunsford said. The fire destroyed the aircraft.
 
Authorities have not released information about the identities of the people who were killed. Addison fire spokesman Edward Martelle said authorities had not identified the plane's owner.
 
The National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA were sending investigators to the scene, local media reported.
 
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Modi, Trump pledge 'strong leadership to address global challenges'

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump on Friday declared that their countries were "central to global peace and stability" and pledged to "provide strong leadership to address global challenges and build prosperity for their citizens in the decades to come".
Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting United States President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan on June 28, 2019.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting United States President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan on June 28, 2019.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump on Friday declared that their countries were "central to global peace and stability" and pledged to "provide strong leadership to address global challenges and build prosperity for their citizens in the decades to come", according to the White House.
 
The two leaders exchanged "perspectives on progress in the strategic partnership and develop new ideas to bring it to the next level", at their bilateral meeting here on the sidelines of the G20 Summit, the White House said in a readout of their meeting.
 
They "acknowledged the unprecedented breadth and depth of bilateral ties, including economic, trade, energy, defense and security, counter-terrorism, and space", the statement said.
 
"The leaders affirmed that, as responsible democracies, a close partnership between the US and India is central to global peace and stability. They reiterated their commitment to provide strong leadership to address global challenges and build prosperity for their citizens in the decades to come," it added.
 
Before their bilateral meeting, Modi and Trump held a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinto Abe. 
 
After the trilateral meeting, Modi tweeted: "Today's meeting of the JAI (Japan, America, India) Trilateral was a productive one. We had extensive discussions on the Indo-Pacific region, improving connectivity and infrastructure development".
 
A White House statement of the trilateral meeting said the leaders "reaffirmed the critical importance of strengthening US-India-Japan cooperation to reinforce shared core democratic values, which promote global security and prosperity".
 
"They agreed to meet every year aceto ensure successful cooperation in multiple areas, including maritime security, quality infrastructure, and advancing peace and prosperity in the Indian Ocean and Pacific region and beyond."
 
Before his meeting with Modi, Trump said he thought they will have a "very big trade deal to announce".
 
"I think we will just continue to get along with India," he told reporters as they got ready for the talks. "We certainly work together on trade and we'll be discussing trade today."
 
"I think we going to have some very big things to announce. Very big trade deal."
 
Trade is a cause of major friction between India and the US, with Trump on a warpath on tariffs. Last month, US withdrew the General Scheme of Preferences (GSP) trade concessions to India accusing it of failing to provide "equitable and reasonable access" to its markets.
 
India on June 16 retaliated by hiking tariffs on 28 US products.
 
"I look forward to speaking with Prime Minister Modi about the fact that India, for years having put very high tariffs against the US, just recently increased the tariffs even further," Trump tweeted while heading to Osaka on Thursday.
 
Modi said before the talks that the key topics they would discuss include Iran, 5G, bilateral relations and defence relations.
 
He added that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during his recent visit to New Delhi had delivered a "very warm letter" from Trump congratulating him on his recent re-election.
 
Trump has put sanctions on oil trade with Iran, an important energy source for India. 
 
Asked about it prior to his meeting with Modi, Trump said: "We have a lot of time -- there's no rush they can take their time. There is absolutely no time pressure. Hopefully in the end it's going to work out. If it does, great, if it doesn't, you'll be hearing about it."
 
Earlier before the formal start of the trilateral talks, Trump congratulated Modi on his re-election.
 
He praised them for their "tremendous success" in the presence of media as their talk was about to begin.
 
Abe told reporters that their three countries are the "foundation of peace and prosperity in the region" and thanked "Donald Trump and Prime Minister Modi" for their roles.
 
When the three leaders were asked to shake hands for a photograph, Trump initiated a three-way fist bump.
 
Pompeo, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, US National Security Adviser John Bolton, Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner were present at the start of the trilateral meeting.
 
The trilateral meeting began after Trump and Abe had a bilateral meeting.
 
A White House official, who briefed reporters before the trilateral meeting said it was "an opportunity to promote a resilient quality secure infrastructure" and "all three countries promote a free and open Indo-Pacific region".
 
The official said that the leaders planned to discuss "strong naval cooperation", following up on a recent joint exercise in the South China Sea.
 
This was the second trilateral meeting of the three leaders, who had met last year at the Buenos Aires G20 meeting.
 
IANS
 

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NASA announces flying mission to study Titan for origins, signs of life

An illustration showing NASA’s Dragonfly rotorcraft-lander approaching a site on Saturn’s exotic moon, Titan. Credits: NASA/JHU-APL
An illustration showing NASA’s Dragonfly rotorcraft-lander approaching a site on Saturn’s exotic moon, Titan. Credits: NASA/JHU-APL
US space agency NASA has announced that its next destination in the solar system is Titan, Saturn's moon, which is an analog to the very early Earth, and can provide clues to how life may have arisen on our planet. 
 
"Advancing our search for the building blocks of life, the Dragonfly mission will fly multiple sorties to sample and examine sites around Saturn’s icy moon," a press release from NASA said.
 
"Dragonfly will launch in 2026 and arrive in 2034. The rotorcraft will fly to dozens of promising locations on Titan looking for prebiotic chemical processes common on both Titan and Earth," it said.
 
Dragonfly marks the first time NASA will fly a multi-rotor vehicle for science on another planet; it has eight rotors and flies like a large drone. It will take advantage of Titan’s dense atmosphere – four times denser than Earth’s – to become the first vehicle ever to fly its entire science payload to new places for repeatable and targeted access to surface materials.
 
The release said that, during its 2.7-year baseline mission, Dragonfly will explore diverse environments from organic dunes to the floor of an impact crater where liquid water and complex organic materials key to life once existed together for possibly tens of thousands of years.
 
Its instruments will study how far prebiotic chemistry may have progressed. They also will investigate the moon’s atmospheric and surface properties and its subsurface ocean and liquid reservoirs. Additionally, instruments will search for chemical evidence of past or extant life.
 
“With the Dragonfly mission, NASA will once again do what no one else can do,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “Visiting this mysterious ocean world could revolutionize what we know about life in the universe. This cutting-edge mission would have been unthinkable even just a few years ago, but we’re now ready for Dragonfly’s amazing flight.”
 
According to the release, Dragonfly took advantage of 13 years’ worth of Cassini data to choose a calm weather period to land, along with a safe initial landing site and scientifically interesting targets. 
 
It will first land at the equatorial “Shangri-La” dune fields, which are terrestrially similar to the linear dunes in Namibia in southern Africa and offer a diverse sampling location. Dragonfly will explore this region in short flights, building up to a series of longer “leapfrog” flights of up to 5 miles (8 kilometers), stopping along the way to take samples from compelling areas with diverse geography. 
 
It will finally reach the Selk impact crater, where there is evidence of past liquid water, organics – the complex molecules that contain carbon, combined with hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen – and energy, which together make up the recipe for life. 
 
The lander will eventually fly more than 108 miles (175 kilometers) – nearly double the distance traveled to date by all the Mars rovers combined.
 
“Titan is unlike any other place in the solar system, and Dragonfly is like no other mission,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for Science at the agency’s Headquarters in Washington. “It’s remarkable to think of this rotorcraft flying miles and miles across the organic sand dunes of Saturn’s largest moon, exploring the processes that shape this extraordinary environment. Dragonfly will visit a world filled with a wide variety of organic compounds, which are the building blocks of life and could teach us about the origin of life itself.”
 
Titan has a nitrogen-based atmosphere like Earth. Unlike Earth, Titan has clouds and rain of methane. Other organics are formed in the atmosphere and fall like light snow. The moon’s weather and surface processes have combined complex organics, energy, and water similar to those that may have sparked life on our planet.
 
Titan is larger than the planet Mercury and is the second largest moon in our solar system. As it orbits Saturn, it is about 886 million miles (1.4 billion kilometers) away from the Sun, about 10 times farther than Earth. Because it is so far from the Sun, its surface temperature is around -290 degrees Fahrenheit (-179 degrees Celsius). Its surface pressure is also 50 percent higher than Earth’s.
 
Dragonfly was selected as part of the agency’s New Frontiers program, which includes the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, Juno to Jupiter, and OSIRIS-REx to the asteroid Bennu. 
 
Dragonfly is led by Principal Investigator Elizabeth Turtle, who is based at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland. New Frontiers supports missions that have been identified as top solar system exploration priorities by the planetary community. The program is managed by the Planetary Missions Program Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for the agency’s Planetary Science Division in Washington.
 
“The New Frontiers program has transformed our understanding of the solar system, uncovering the inner structure and composition of Jupiter’s turbulent atmosphere, discovering the icy secrets of Pluto’s landscape, revealing mysterious objects in the Kuiper belt, and exploring a near-Earth asteroid for the building blocks of life,” said Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division. “Now we can add Titan to the list of enigmatic worlds NASA will explore.”
 
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Modi and I will announce very big trade deal: Trump

File photo of United States President Donald Trump
File photo of United States President Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump on Friday said ahead of his meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that he thinks they will have a "very big trade deal to announce".
 
Speaking to the media before the trilateral talks between him, Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the two-day G-20 Summit here, Trump said: "I think we are going to have some very big things to announce. Very big trade deal.
 
"We certainly work together on trade and we'll be discussing trade today... I think we will just continue to get along with India." 
 
Modi said that the key topics they would discuss include Iran, 5G, bilateral and defence relations.
 
Modi said that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during his recent visit to New Delhi had delivered a "very warm letter" from Trump congratulating him on his recent re-election.
 
"The hottest country in the world right now is the US and everybody wants to be a part of it," Trump said.
 
"We're going to be discussing that and also how India fits in," Trump said when asked about Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications manufacturer that the US has placed restrictions because of its security considerations.
 
Trump has put sanctions on oil trade with Iran, an important energy source for India.
 
Asked about it, Trump said: "We have a lot of time, there's no rush they can take their time. There is absolutely no time pressure. Hopefully in the end, it's going to work out. If it does, great, if it doesn't, you all be hearing shut it."
 
When the three leaders were asked to shake hands for a photograph, Trump initiated a three-way fist bump.
 
Pompeo, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, National Security Adviser John Bolton, Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner were present at the start of the trilateral meeting.
 
The meeting began after Trump and Abe had bilateral talks. A bilateral meeting between Modi and Trump will take place later in the day.
 
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Modi meets Abe ahead of G20 Summit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in Osaka, Japan on June 27, 2019.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in Osaka, Japan on June 27, 2019.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday met his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe ahead of the two-day G20 Summit slated to take place here on Friday.
 
"Greeting each other as best friends do! Japanese PM @AbeShinzo warmly welcomes PM @narendramodi ahead of their bilateral meeting," External Affairs Minister spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.
 
"Discussed broad range of topics of mutual interest. PM (Modi) said that he was looking forward to visit of PM Abe to India later this year for the Annual Summit," Kumar added.
 
Modi arrived in this Japanese city earlier on Thursday. According to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), Modi "will elaborate on many issues of global importance and present India's viewpoint" during the summit.
 
On the Modi-Abe meeting, the PMO tweeted: "A friendship characterized by warmth and the promise of a bright future. Prime Ministers @narendramodi and @AbeShinzo hold talks in Osaka, the first such meeting between these leaders since the start of Japan's Reiwa era. 
 
"Many aspects of India-Japan relations were discussed."
 
During the two days, Modi will meet other world leaders including US President Donald Trump and also hold a trilateral meeting on the sidelines of the summit with Russian and Chinese Presidents Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, respectively.
 
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Modi arrives in Osaka to attend G20 Summit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Osaka on Thursday morning to attend the G20 Summit to be held on June 28-29 to address major challenges and opportunities being faced by the world.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi being greeted by members of the Indian community on arrival at his hotel in Osaka, Japan on June 27, 2019.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi being greeted by members of the Indian community on arrival at his hotel in Osaka, Japan on June 27, 2019.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived here today to attend the G20 Summit to be held on June 28-29 to address major challenges and opportunities being faced by the world.
 
He was greeted on arrival at the Kansai International airport by senior Japanese and Indian officials.
 
Over the next three days, Modi also has a range of other bilateral and plurilateral engagements.
 
In a pre-departure statement, Modi said women empowerment, issues related to digitalization and artificial intelligence, and progress in achieving SDGs and in their common efforts to address major global challenges such as terrorism and climate change would be part of the G20 Summit.
 
"The Summit will provide an important opportunity to reiterate and reinforce our strong support to reformed multilateralism, which is crucial for preserving rule-based international order in today’s fast-changing world. The Summit will also be a platform for sharing India’s strong developmental experience of the last five years, which provided the basis for a resounding mandate by the people of India to the Government to continue on the path to progress and stability," he said.
 
Modi said the Osaka Summit would also be an important stepping stone for India towards hosting the G-20 Summit in 2022, the 75th anniversary of the country's independence.
 
"On the sidelines, I also look forward to engaging with leaders of our major partner countries on important issues of bilateral and global importance.
 
"I also look forward to host the next Russia, India and China (RIC) Informal Summit on the sidelines, and also to participate in the next informal meetings of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and JAI (Japan, America and India) leaders," he added.
 
Modi is slated to meet United States President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron, among others, for bilateral meetings on the margins of the summit.
 
The G20 Summit will be attended by Heads of State or Government of member-countries, the European Union and other invited countries and international organizations.
 
Established in 1999, G20 was elevated from a forum of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors to that of Heads of State/Government in 2008 to effectively respond to the global financial crisis of 2008. 
 
Since then it has emerged as the premier global forum for international economic cooperation. G20 members represent around 85 per cent of global gross domestic product, over 75 per cent of global trade, and two-thirds of the world’s population.
 
India has participated in all the G20 Summits held so far. India will host the G20 summit in 2022 for the first time.
 
A press release from the Ministry of External Affairs said the summit under Japanese Presidency will be based around the theme "Human-centered future society”.
 
The issues likely to be discussed at the summit include Free trade and economic growth, global economy including taxation, finance, Digital Economy and Artificial Intelligence; Inclusive and Sustainable World; Energy and Environment, Society 5.0, Quality infrastructure, Global Health, Aging, Climate change, and Marine plastic waste. The summit will also adopt a declaration.
 
The issues of importance for India at G20 include energy security, financial stability, disaster resilient infrastructure, reformed multilateralism, WTO reforms, countering terrorism, return of economic fugitives, food security, democratization of technologies and portable social security schemes, the release said.
 
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Hyderabad man killed in San Francisco accident

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A Hyderabad man and another person were killed in a road accident in the US city of San Francisco, police said.
 
The city's authorities have identified the victims as Syed Waseem Ali, 26, from Hyderabad who lived in Fremont, and Sela Henriquez, 49, of San Francisco, reports the San Francisco Examiner newspaper.
 
The collision occurred at about 1.15 a.m. Sunday at Third Street and Paul Avenue. 
 
According to the police, a Mercedes-Benz was speeding on Third Street and didn't stop at a red light, causing a collision with a Toyota sedan.
 
Ali, who was driving the Toyota and had Henriquez as passenger via the Lyft ride-hailing service, were pronounced dead after the crash.
 
Two passengers from the Mercedes were taken to a hospital but are expected to survive. The driver fled on foot, leaving the vehicle behind, and had not been arrested as of early Monday afternoon, police said. 
 
A GoFundMe page has been created on behalf of Ali's family to raise money to transport his body and belongings back to Hyderabad, the San Francisco Examiner reported.
 
Lyft issued a statement following the crash.
 
"We are deeply saddened by this tragic accident and resulting loss of life. Our thoughts are with the victims' family and friends during this difficult time. We have reached out to the rider's family to offer our support and are working to contact the driver's family," the company said.
 
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Uttarakhand BJP MLA suspended over indiscipline

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The ruling BJP in Uttarakhand has suspended Khanpur MLA Kunwar Pranav Singh Champion from the party for three months on charges of indiscipline, a party spokesman said on Sunday.
 
Champion's suspension on Saturday night came after a preliminary report prepared by the state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Disciplinary Committee found him guilty of gross indiscipline. It also took cognizance of the legislator's alleged threats to a journalist. 
 
State BJP President Ajay Bhatt later suspended Champion. 
 
Recently, a video had gone viral in which Champion appeared to be threatening an electronic media journalist. He was also in the news for publicly making fun of BJP MLA from Jhabreda Deshraj Karnawal. 
 
Champion, who wanted a ticket for his wife for the Lok Sabha polls from Haridwar, had described then sitting MP from the seat and now Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank as a "migratory bird".
 
He was among the nine Congress MLAs who had rebelled against Harish Rawat and crossed over to the BJP in 2016. Later, all the nine MLAs were disqualified by the Speaker. 
 
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Ethiopian army chief shot dead during failed coup attempt

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The chief of staff of the Ethiopian army was shot dead during a coup attempt in the northern Amhara region, the Prime Minister's office announced on Sunday on state television.
 
General Seare Mekonnen died after being shot while trying to prevent the coup attempt on Saturday night, in which another military chief, General Gezai Abera, also died, the office said on state television ETV.
 
The president of Amhara region, Ambachew Mekonnen, as well as his adviser, Ezez Wasie, were also shot dead in their office in the regional capital, reports Efe news.
 
The coup against the government of this region, the second largest ethnic group in the country, began late Saturday in the capital, Bahir Dar, and was thwarted soon after by the federal security forces, the prime minister's spokesman, Nigussu Tilahun, announced on ETV.
 
"The coup attempt in Amhara regional state is against the constitution and is intended to scupper the hard-won peace of the region," the prime minister's office said in an initial statement.
 
"This illegal attempt should be condemned by all Ethiopians and the federal government has full capacity to overpower this armed group," it added, without specifying who was behind the attempt.
 
In addition to Bahir Dar, shots were also heard in the country's capital, Addis Ababa, according to reports from the United States embassy in Ethiopia. 
 
"The US Embassy is aware of reports of gunfire in Addis Ababa. Chief of Mission personnel are advised to shelter in place," it said in a statement.
 
Since coming to power in April 2018, ending two years of protests against the previous government, Ethiopian President Abiy Ahmed has been praised both within the country and outside it for his democratic advances, which have led to the return of exiled dissidents as well as the arrest of dozens of senior military and intelligence officials.
 
On July 9, 2018, Abiy and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki signed a joint declaration of peace and friendship to pave the way for a thaw in diplomatic relations between the two countries, which had been suspended since the end of an armed conflict that began over border disputes dating back to the independence of Eritrea in 1993.
 
However, these same reforms and a more balanced distribution of power between the country's nine autonomous regions have also led to increased tensions between the various ethnic groups, with several spirals of violence in a nation of more than 100 million people.
 
Ethiopia, which has more than 80 different ethnic groups, had the largest newly displaced population in the world in 2018, more than two million, owing to intercommunal violence.
 
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Sri Lanka extends Emergency for another month

Maithripala Sirisena (File photo: Xinhua/Easwaran/IANS)
Maithripala Sirisena (File photo: Xinhua/Easwaran/IANS)
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, here on Saturday, extended the State of Emergency by another month, considering the security situation following the April Easter Sunday bombings that killed over 250 people and injured hundreds.
 
Sirisena issued orders to extend the Emergency for another month from Friday midnight, according to a gazette notification.
 
According to the notification, the Emergency was in effect for public security, preservation of public order and maintenance of supplies and services essential to the life of the countrymen, the Colombo Page reported.
 
The President had declared the Emergency on April 22, a day after attacks on three churches, three luxury hotels and two other locations. The bombings were claimed by the Islamic State terror group.
 
Earier on May 22, Sirisena extended the Emergency by a month as security forces continued nationwide raids to hunt down suspects linked to the attacks. He had assured the diplomatic community in Sri Lanka then that it would not be extended. 
 
Sri Lanka's police and military have arrested over 100 suspects in the crackdown.
 
The need to extend Emergency regulations has been questioned by some political leaders and activists in the island country, with the Tamil National Alliance voting against the motion when it was presented in Parliament in May. 
 
"We don't think it's necessary to have emergency regulations in place now," TNA Parliamentarian M. A. Sumanthiran told Efe news. 
 
"The regulations are far-reaching and draconian in nature. Also, two cases are being heard on the regulations in courts. We will be voting against the motion this time as well," he said.
 
The Sri Lankan government has initiated several investigations into the Easter Sunday blasts, including by a presidential committee and a parliamentary select committee. The House panel announced on Saturday that both Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and two former law and order Ministers would meet it to give evidence. 
 
The acting Inspector General of Police ordered on Friday a criminal investigation into lapses by nine top police officers with regard to the bombings. Sri Lankan authorities blame local extremist groups National Thowheed Jamaath (NTJ) and Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim for the attacks.
 
The country's Criminal Investigation Department also brought five suspects, arrested in Dubai in connection with the attacks, to the island earlier this month and are questioning them.
 
The bombings also caused significant damage to Sri Lanka's tourism sector.
 
IANS
 

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Curb terror funding by October: FATF warns Pakistan

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The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has warned Pakistan to improve its counter-terror financing operations in line with an internationally agreed action plan by October or face action, sources said.
 
The FATF also expressed its concerns over Pakistan's failure to complete the action plan first by a January deadline, and again by May.
 
"The FATF strongly urges Pakistan to swiftly complete its action plan by October 2019 when the last set of action plan items are set to expire," the FATF said in a statement on Friday.
 
"Otherwise, the FATF will decide the next step at that time for insufficient progress," the statement added.
 
Pakistan has been already put by the FATF on the "grey list" of countries with insufficient controls to tackle money laundering and terror financing. 
 
IANS
 

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Credible proof linking MBS to Khashoggi killing: UN expert

Jamal Khashoggi
Jamal Khashoggi
There is credible evidence that Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other high-level officials are individually liable for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a UN special rapporteur said in a report on Wednesday.
 
A report by UN extrajudicial executions investigator Agnes Callamard said the evidence merits further investigation by an independent and impartial international inquiry, the BBC reported.
 
Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and a critic of the Saudi Crown Prince, was killed and reportedly dismembered in October 2018 at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul by a team of 15 agents sent from Riyadh. His body has not been found till now.
 
While Riyadh initially denied any knowledge of the incident, Saudi officials later claimed that a group of rogue operators, many of whom belong to the Crown Prince's inner circle, were responsible for the journalist's death.
 
The murder caused international outrage and provoked condemnation of the 33-year-old Crown Prince, also known as "MBS". Saudi authorities, however, insist they were not acting on the Crown Prince's orders.
 
In a 101-page report into Khashoggi's murder, Callamard urged the UN to "demand" a follow-up criminal investigation.
 
She did not make any conclusions on the guilt of the Saudi Crown Prince and the King. Instead, Callamard said that there was "credible evidence meriting further investigation by a proper authority" as to whether the "threshold of criminal responsibility has been met".
 
Callamard said it was her conclusion that Khashoggi was "the victim of a deliberate, premeditated execution" and an "extrajudicial killing for which the state of Saudi Arabia is responsible under international human rights law".
 
There was no immediate reaction from Saudi Arabia.
 
"There is credible evidence, warranting further investigation of high-level Saudi officials' individual liability, including the Crown Prince's. Indeed, this human rights inquiry has shown that there is sufficient credible evidence regarding the responsibility of the Crown Prince demanding further investigation," she said.
 
According to Callamard, there was "no reason why sanctions should not be applied against the Crown Prince and his personal assets". She went to Turkey earlier this year with a team of forensic and legal experts and said she received evidence from Turkish authorities.
 
She said she obtained access to a recording of the killing and had received information about a "financial package" offered to Khashoggi's children.
 
Her report revealed gruesome, nearly minute-by-minute accounting of the events surrounding the killing. It also cited sounds of a buzzing saw that could have been used to dismember Khashoggi's body, media reports said.
 
Callamard said she received no response to her request to travel to Saudi Arabia.
 
Eleven people are on trial in Saudi Arabia over the murder in secret proceedings and five could face the death penalty.
 
Callamard named 15 suspects in the case, while the US State Department publicly identified 16 people for their alleged roles in the killing.
 
IANS
 

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26 injured in Japan earthquake

 
Strong quake strikes northwest Japan
At least 26 people were injured after an earthquake measuring 6.7 on the Richter scale struck Japan's northwestern region, causing landslides and power outages in some areas, authorities said on Wednesday.
 
Seventeen people were injured in Yamagata prefecture, four each in Niigata and Miyagi prefectures, and one in Ishikawa Prefecture, according to the Kyodo News Agency. 
 
There were no reports of missing people, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said.
 
The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) warned of potential collapses of buildings and more landslides as there is a chance of more quakes of similar levels hitting Yamagata and Niigata prefectures facing the Sea of Japan over the following week while rain is expected in parts of the region on Wednesday.
 
The earthquake occurred at 10.22 p.m. on Tuesday at a depth of about 14 km, with its epicenter located off Yamagata, according to the meteorological agency. A tsunami warning was issued but lifted hours later.
 
A 10 cm tsunami was observed in the city of Niigata with smaller ones in other locations including Sakata and Wajima.
 
Multiple landslides occurred in Tsuruoka, according to the Yamagata prefectural government. 
 
Some vehicles were trapped in mud as the temblor caused soil liquefaction in parts of Tsuruoka, and the roof over a sumo ring at an elementary school in the city collapsed, according to the local governments.
 
Over 9,200 houses in Niigata and Yamagata prefectures were hit by power outages but electricity services were restored by 6.44 a.m. on Wednesday, according to Tohoku Electric Power Co.
 
East Japan Railway Co. said the quake caused some delays to its bullet train services Tuesday, affecting around 10,000 people. It began Wednesday's services normally.
 
IANS
 

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12 dead, 125 injured in magnitude 6.0 earthquake in China's Sichuan province

 
Death toll from China quakes rises to 11
At least 12 people died and 125 others suffered injuries after a magnitude 6.0 earthquake hit the Sichuan province in southwest China on Monday night, Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency said on Tuesday, quoting the Ministry of Emergency Management.
 
The quake struck Changning County of Yibin City at 10:55 pm local time on Monday, the China Earthquake Networks Centre (CENC) said.
 
Its epicentre was located at latitude 28.34 degrees North and longitude 104.90 degrees East and it occurred at a depth of 16 km, the report said.
 
Most of the deaths were caused by damaged houses, the report quoted rescue workers as saying.
 
Fifty-three people are receiving treatment in two hospitals in Changning. Among them, two are in critical conditions and six others are severely injured.
 
Rescue and relief teams have been rushed to the affected areas, along with food and other emergency supplies, tents, folding cots, quilts and so on.
 
A major highway connecting Yibin and Xuyong county of Sichuan's Luzhou city was closed and some other roads were also blocked, the report said.
 
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Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi dies in courtroom during trial

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Egypt's former President Mohammed Morsi, ousted by the military in 2013 after one year in office, has collapsed in a courtroom and died, officials said.
 
A top figure in the now-banned Islamist movement Muslim Brotherhood, Morsi had just addressed the court from a cage at a hearing on charges of espionage, the BBC reported.
 
Morsi, 67, had been in custody since his removal after mass protests.
 
The Muslim Brotherhood said the death was a "full-fledged murder" and called for crowds to gather at the funeral.
 
Activists and his family had long complained about his prison conditions, saying Morsi was not receiving treatment for serious health problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes, and was constantly being held under solitary confinement.
 
Morsi collapsed moments after addressing the court in Cairo at a hearing related to charges of espionage emanating from suspected contacts with the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, which had close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
 
He spoke for five minutes from a soundproof glass cage which officials said was designed to prevent him disrupting proceedings. The cause of death was not immediately confirmed but Egypt's public prosecutor said an initial report showed no signs of recent injuries on the body.
 
Last month, his family said authorities had repeatedly denied access to him and that they knew little about his health conditions, a situation that "violated constitutions applied all over the world".
 
In March last year, his youngest son, Abdullah, said officials were "doing this on purpose, since they want to see him dead 'from natural causes' as soon as possible".
 
IANS
 

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4 Indian-American family members found dead inside house in Iowa

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Four members of an Indian-American family were found dead with gunshot wounds inside a house in the US state of Iowa, authorities said.
 
Officers with the West Des Moines Police Department were sent at around 10 a.m. on Saturday to the 900 block of 65th Street, where they found the bodies, reports the local KCRG News.
 
Police identified the bodies as those of Chandrasekhar Sunkara, 44, Lavanya Sunkara, 41, a 15- and a 10-year-old boy.
 
The police said they all died of apparent gunshot wounds but an autopsy has been scheduled to determine the exact cause of death.
 
"This tragedy will impact family, friends, co-workers, anyone that knew this family," Sgt. Dan Wade said in statement. 
 
"We are continuing to work through this investigation. We will follow through until we have answered as many questions as the evidence allows. We are confident, though, that there is no continuing threat to the community."
 
Authorities said other family members -- two adults and two children -- were staying at the home as guests, KCRG News quoted the police as saying. 
 
When the victims were discovered, one of the survivors ran outside looking for help.
 
IANS
 

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Tech firms can't dodge responsibility for chaos they create: Cook

Tim Cook (File photo: IANS)
Tim Cook (File photo: IANS)
Taking a dig at tech giants like Facebook over privacy violations and the unabated spread of fake news, Apple CEO Tim Cook has asked fellow technologists to start taking responsibility for their actions.
 
During a speech at the Stanford University on Sunday, Cook said that whether you like it or not, what you build and what you create defines who you are.
 
"It feels a bit crazy that anyone should have to say this. But if you've built a chaos factory, you can't dodge responsibility for the chaos. Taking responsibility means having the courage to think things through," Cook told students.
 
"We see it every day now, with every data breach, every privacy violation, every blind eye turned to hate speech. Fake news poisoning our national conversation. The false promise of miracles in exchange for a single drop of your blood. Too many seem to think that good intentions excuse away harmful outcomes."
 
"If we accept as normal and unavoidable that everything in our lives can be aggregated, sold or even leaked in the event of a hack, then we lose so much more than data. We lose the freedom to be human," Cook noted.
 
His concerns came in the wake of several users' data violation being reported almost on a daily basis. Silicon Valley has faced fierce criticism in recent years over disinformation, privacy breaches and the misuse of data.
 
According to The New York Times, the Department of Justice is set to probe Google while the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will take on Facebook and Amazon, seeking greater scrutiny from tech companies related to users' privacy and unfair market practices.
 
Facebook is already under investigation by the US FTC over its handling of user data. The social networking platform is expecting a fine of up to $5 billion.
 
"Here's a plain fact -- Silicon Valley is responsible for some of the most revolutionary inventions in modern history. But lately, it seems, this industry is becoming known for a less noble innovation: The belief that you can claim credit without accepting responsibility," Cook told students.
 
According to Cook, in a world without digital privacy, even if you have done nothing wrong other than think differently, you begin to censor yourself.
 
"Not entirely at first. Just a little, bit by bit. To risk less, to hope less, to imagine less, to dare less, to create less, to try less, to talk less, to think less. The chilling effect of digital surveillance is profound, and it touches everything".
 
He said that if we believe that freedom means an environment where great ideas can take root, where they can grow and be nurtured without fear of irrational restrictions or burdens, then it's our duty to change course.
 
"Don't waste your time living someone else's life. Don't try to emulate the people who came before you to the exclusion of everything else, contorting into a shape that doesn't fit," he said.
 
IANS
 

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3 Indian labourers killed in Nepal building collapse

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Three Indian labourers were killed and three others injured when a part of an under-construction building collapsed in Nepal's Dang district on Saturday, officials said.
 
Chief of the Dang District Administration Govinda Prasad Rijal told Xinhua news agency the part of the under-construction Samrat Cement Factory collapsed at 1 a.m. The deceased Indians were from Jharkhand, officials said.
 
Those injured were rushed to local hospitals.
 
Remanta Dhakal, factory's General Manager, said the accident occurred when the labourers were working to set up the sixth floor of the building.
 
IANS
 
 
 

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Xi says China wants Indo-Pak ties to improve

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Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Friday that Beijing was for the improvement in ties between New Delhi and Islamabad but at the same time pushed for the expansion of the controversial China-Pakistan Economic Corridor(CPEC), a multi-billion dollar connectivity project that has caused tensions among the three Asian nations.
 
On the margins of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Xi met Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and told him "China supports India and Pakistan to improve relations" that nosedived after 40 CRPF troopers were killed in a terror attack by Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district on February 14.
 
"We support Pakistan in carrying out the national anti-terrorism action plan and will help Pakistan strengthen its counter-terrorism capacity building. China supports Pakistan and India to improve relations," Xi was quoted as saying by a statement released by the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing.
 
At the same summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi raked up the issue of terrorism and slammed Pakistan in an oblique reference. 
 
Xi also stressed on the need to expand the CPEC, the crown jewel of China's ambitious Belt and Road project. India has sternly opposed the corridor project that plans to connect China's Kashgar with Pakistan's Gwadar through the disputed Kashmir region.
 
"We must expand and enrich the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor with new focus on industrial parks, agriculture and people's livelihood," Xi was quoted as saying by the statement.
 
"It is necessary to seize the opportunity of the escalation of the China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement and vigorously expand bilateral trade. China is willing to provide assistance to Pakistan within its ability," Xi said. 
 
China is Pakistan's close ally and refuses to chide the South Asian nation for harbouring anti-India terrorists.
 
Beijing has also invested billions of dollars in CPEC Pakistan that has come under attack for alleged corruption. The Chinese engineers working on the project have been attacked by militants who are against it.
 
During his meeting with Xi, Khan said: "The Pakistani side will firmly promote the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and will take effective measures to provide security.
 
"China is an all-weather strategic partner of Pakistan. The Pakistani side thanks the Chinese side for its valuable support and assistance for a long time. It highly values China's positive role in promoting international and regional peace and security and is committed to continuously deepening its strategic relationship with China."
 
IANS
 

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China, India should not pose threat to each other: Xi

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Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the two countries should not pose a threat to each other and step up cooperation in various fields, including the construction of the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) Economic Corridor.
 
After Xi met Modi for the first time after the Indian leader was re-elected Prime Minister, on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation at Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan, the Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a statement late Thursday evening, giving details about the meet between the two leaders, who also discussed the US' protectionist trade policy.
 
Xi, who congratulated Modi on his re-election, said both countries needed to accept their differences and expand their cooperation in various spheres.
 
He pointed out that China and India are the only two emerging market countries with a population of one billion in the world, and they are at an important stage of rapid development. 
 
"The cooperation between China and India will not only help each other's development, but will also contribute to peace, stability, and prosperity in Asia and the world," he said. 
 
Xi also emphasised that "the two sides should adhere to the basic judgment that China and India... do not pose a threat to each other. They must persist in deepening mutual trust, focusing on cooperation, and accepting differences so that China-India relations become a more positive asset and positive energy for promoting the development of the two countries".
 
He stressed the need to step up cooperation in investment, production capacity, tourism, and among others, expand benefits of common interests to jointly promote regional interconnectivity -- including the construction of the BCIM, and better realise cooperative development and common development.
 
BCIM is also one of the major six corridors of China's Belt and Road connectivity project. It aims to connect China's eastern city of Kunming with India's Kolkata through Bangladesh's Dhaka and Myanmar's Mandalay. India had not opposed the BCIM but its response to the project was tepid as it said to have concerns about China expanding its influence in its eastern neighbours.
 
India also fears the project would expose its northeastern region.
 
Xi also told Modi "that it was necessary to make good use of mechanisms such as the meeting of special representatives on the border issue, strengthen the building of confidence measures, and maintain stability in the border areas of the two countries".
 
The two countries have a dispute over their 3,448 km long border, which is also the ninth largest boundary in the world. 
 
Xi also said that "as important representatives of developing countries and emerging market economies, China and India must jointly safeguard free trade and multilateralism and safeguard the legitimate development rights of developing countries".
 
The US has turned up the heat on Indian and China as it in May took its trade spat with China to the next level by slapping tariffs on its goods worth $200 billion and ended the preferential status for Indian goods earlier this month.
 
Modi told Xi that the Indian side was willing to maintain close high-level exchanges with China, strengthen strategic communication, promote bilateral relations in a wide range of fields, expand new areas of cooperation, and properly handle their differences.
 
"India and China should jointly plan the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries next year and enhance cultural exchanges between the two countries," Modi was quoted as saying by the statement.
 
IANS
 

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